I (Jack) was part of the emerging Scottish folk-music scene at around the same time that like-minded young Americans were heading for Greenwich Village to discover much the same buzz and counter-culture. In the early 1960s, subversiveness had a musical soundtrack. My Edinburgh-centered version had little direct musical connection with its American cousin, other than very occasional imported albums and songs heard 2nd or 3rd hand from the likes of Archie Fisher or Josh McCrae, but the undercurrent of questioning authority and plotting the green revolution was similar. In my case there was also a Pete Seeger concert in Edinburgh and a stage shared with Carolyn Hester in Aberdeen.
But I had never been to Greenwich Village – until last Saturday, that is!
Finding ourselves in New York and asked what we’d like to see, Wendy gave me a grin and said, “Greenwich Village.” And so I got my picture taken standing in Bleeker Street, then McDougal Street and finally in Washington Square Park. An old ghost had been laid to rest; a place that had assumed near-mythic proportions in my mind was beneath my feet and in my view. Although the area has no doubt changed a lot—we saw boutique shops and chain stores where some of the old folkie corners had once questioned how we lived our lives—the buildings are mostly unaltered, the cellars still there though fulfilling a different function.
It was a lovely day out for this child of the sixties, to see where the great ‘Folk Scare’ was rooted and the park where the ‘revolution’ was plotted as young musicians who would later become household names gathered to jam.
Finally, the following morning we shared breakfast with our hosts, including Nichole’s father-in-law, Harvey. (Nichole is Wendy’s editor at St. Martin’s Press.) It turned out that he had been to the NYC parties back in those days when Bob Dylan had also attended. Conversation at the table took us both back to respective youth and shared cultural signposts. I was able to reminisce about attending Dylan’s 1966 Edinburgh concert, just 2 days before the famous ‘Judas’ accusation in Manchester.
(The photo on the right is of me at the corner of Bleeker and McDougal Streets, with Wendy’s agent Pamela at left, thoughtfully keeping Wendy from being killed as she steps into the street to photograph me!)