Carnival Stories

Bob Dylan was just 20 years old when he appeared on the Folksingers Choice radio program on WBAI FM in New York City. He’d arrived in Manhattan just a few years earlier and was playing in the coffee houses of Greenwich Village – at one in particular he was paid “a dollar plus a cheeseburger.”

We uncovered the hour-long interview at Pacifica Radio Archives. It was conducted by Cynthia Gooding, a folk singer who played in the coffee houses and clubs in New York City’s Greenwich Village in the 1950s and 60s. She hosted Folksingers Choice. During their conversation, Dylan played some of his own songs (“The Death of Emmett Till”, “Standing on the Highway”) and covers of classics by Howlin’ Wolf, Hank Williams, and Woody Guthrie. I scored this episode, animated by Patrick Smith, with Dylan tuning up his guitar and playing his harmonica.

It’s a wonderful snapshot in time, with a young Dylan before he was famous and before he even released his debut album. He’s nervous and funny. He’s just a guy with a guitar with a little mischief underneath.