Post by William J. Clinton on Nov 14, 2004 15:04:06 GMT -5
As published in the letters column of the NYTimes Book Review, November 14, 2004:
Tom Carson's review of Bob Dylan's "Chronicles" punctures a lot of the mystique, but also reveals some basic ignorance of the Greenwich Village folk scene. Having spent the last two years editing the memoir of Dylan's mentor, Dave Von Ronk, I can assure Carson that both Dylan's romantic primitivism and his fascination with history were the common coin of that scene. Dylan would certainly have known at 20 that the Cafe Bizarre "used to be Aaron Burr's livery stable" -- that is the first thing that anyone who played the club remembers about it. Before Dylan transformed the folk world into a mass of self-involved singer-songwriters, it was populated by amateur historians posing as what Van Ronk liked to call "neo-ethics," and they all treasured their carefully honed hayseed accents and their links to previous self-mythologizers like Walt Whitman. Dylan's memoir, quirky as it may be, gives a straightforward sense of that time and place.
There's a longer, even more interesting comment on on3 story in Chronicles on Wald's website, at