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8 Wb J?Ufe Menschen 1pohnc11, dort lass ich n1ich 11icdcr Nur biise Menschen haben keine Lieder. Where good n1en dwell is where n1y heart belongs For evil n1en alone possess no songs. -G()ETHE I:N ENGLAND I HAD CULTIVATED AND CHERISHED my contact with other folksingers. In America there was so much more folk music-a veritable feast. When I arrived in December 1954, the Weavers were still blacklisted, no new records of theirs were available, and their public performances had dwindled in number. But individual concerts were sponsored by organizations that did not give a damn about witch-hunts. During my very first week in New York, something I had hoped for and thought would not happen for a long time actually materialized. What a joy it was one morning to open the newspaper and find that, on that very evening, Pete Seeger was performing uptown at Columbia University. I took a taxi-which it turned out I could not afford. Who knew that Manhattan, which looked so narrow on the map, had such expensive cab rides in store when going uptown? In the end I did not care about blowing a chunk Folk Ua-e • 153 of my rehearsal salary. Pete's concert was well worth it, especially with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee thrown in as surprise guests. I went backstage afterward and introduced myself. Although we had mutual friends and acquaintances, my name rang no bell; I had not thought it would. It was my first contact with the dean of the folk scene in America, but it certainly would not be the last. Just as I had gravitated in England to the places frequented by singers and guitar players, so it was only natural that soon after arriving in New York I should gravitate to Greenwich Village, the home of artists, writers, painters, n1usicians, and other free~living types. Most of the folksinging parties took place there, either in cramped apartments or in drafty lofts. In the wintertime the apartments were invariably too hot or too cold. The radiators did not work or, when they did, could not be turned off. As for the lofts, these were always too cold; although with lots of people at a party it was not too bad. Being close to each other helped keep everybody reasonably warm. The Village could be a confusing place for outsiders. For one thing, the streets had names, not numbers, and the rectangular scheme of the rest of Manhattan was not much help here. Even some of the numbered streets did funny things. West Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth crossed West Fourth, unaccountably. Driving a car you might ask a local for directions and be told, "You can't get there from here." There was another part of the Village population which was at the opposite end of the social and political spectrum from the artists and the hippies . The old-time residents, mostly of Italian descent, were among the most conservative, clearly frowning upon the lifestyle of their bearded and sandaled neighbors. While my sympathies and allegiances were with the artists, I also liked to observe the straight and un-hip. The Italian-American speech patterns alone delighted me. I saw a man in a T-shirt leaning out of a window and shouting to a man waiting in the street, "Wha Loo?" The answer was a staccato "Coo-cah." Obviously some island language or, at best, a regional dialect from Calabria. But no, it was English. Translated: "What happened to Louie?" Answer: "Couldn't come." What intrigued me was not only the dialect and accent, but also the choice of words and phrases, grammar be damned. A woman, watering a plant, spilled some water out of a top-floor window, which hit a passerby in the street below. He looked up and saw the woman still standing by her window and yelled irately, "You outta your mind' Who the hell do you think you are?" She yelled back, "Drop dead. That's who!" I met with, partied with, and sang with many folksingers. Although we all came from vastly different backgrounds, we quickly 15+ · THEO developed strong bonds of camaraderie. I renewed friendships begun in England with Oscar Brand and Jean Ritchie. I met and sang with the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. with Ed McCurdy, Jo Mapes, Gene and Francesca, Leon Bibb, Glenn Yarbrough, Ray Boguslav (who later accompanied me both in concert and on recordings ), and Cynthia Gooding. There...


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