inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #0 of 288: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 24 Sep 02 18:56
Richie Unterberger is the author of "Turn! Turn! Turn!: The '60s Folk-Rock
Revolution," published by Backbeat Books in summer 2002. It documents the
birth and heyday of folk-rock from 1964 to mid-1966, from its roots in the
folk revival through the birth of electric folk-rock in the hands of the
Byrds and Bob Dylan and the rise to stardom of the Lovin' Spoonful, the
Mamas & the Papas, Donovan, and Simon & Garfunkel. Its sequel, "Eight Miles
High: Folk-Rock's Flight from Haight-Ashbury to Woodstock," covers folk-rock
from mid-1966 to 1970, and will be published by Backbeat in 2003. Both
volumes draw on well over 100 first-hand interviews with the era's
performers, producers, session musicians, record executives, and

Richie's other books include "Unknown Legends of Rock 'n' roll" (Backbeat,
1998), which profiles 60 underappreciated cult rock artists of all styles
and eras. His "Urban Spacemen & Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators &
Eccentric Visionaries of '60s Rock" (Backbeat, 2000) contains more in-depth
surveys of 20 underrated greats of the era, again drawing on dozens of
first-hand interviews. Unterberger is also author of "The Rough Guide to
Music USA," a guidebook to the evolution of regional popular music styles
throughout America in the twentieth century, and the travel guidebook "The
Rough Guide to Seattle." A senior editor for the All Music Guide, he lives
in San Francisco. More information about Richie Unterberger and his books
can be found on his Web site at

Our moderator for this conversation is Dave Zimmer. Dave is a native
Californian who now lives in New Jersey and works in New York City, is a
music journalist and corporate communications writer/editor, with a
particular passion for folk-rock. In fact, he's often said his musical heart
resides in Laurel Canyon, where some pretty fair California folk-rock groups
found their wings.

Dave's book, "Crosby, Stills & Nash: The Biography" (Da Capo Press), was an
Inkwell topic this past July. And while this is Dave's first experience as
an Inkwell topic moderator, he's used to this kind of Q&A forum, having
interviewed more than 500 artists - from Aerosmith to Joni Mitchell to Neil

A music book junkie, Dave thought he knew pretty much everything there was
to know about folk-rock ... until he read Richie's tome, "Turn! Turn!
Turn!", whereupon he discovered new information nuggets on virtually every

Please welcome Richie and Dave!
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #1 of 288: Dave Zimmer (zimmerdave) Wed 25 Sep 02 07:47
OK, Richie. Here we go ... first question ... As a term and musical
genre, "folk-rock" has often been misunderstood by the public and,
frankly, even music critics. In your book, how did you address these
misconceptions and provide readers with a clear view of all that
folk-rock represents and encompasses?   
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #2 of 288: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 25 Sep 02 10:02
"Turn! Turn! Turn!" focuses on folk-rock as it first sounded when it
emerged in the mid-1960s. As with most musical styles, the exact 
perception or definition will vary according to the listener. It's also
often been forgotten that "folk-rock" was not a label that arose among
musicians or grassroots fans, but almost certainly from the media.
Specfically, it was Billboard magazine that popularized the term, with
a June 12, 1965 cover story that focused on the Byrds (whose "Mr.
Tambourine Man" had just gone into the Top Ten of their charts) and
used the term "folk-rock" a half dozen times. As musicians hadn't come
up with the term themselves, *they* even had trouble defining it, and
were sometimes even displeased about the label. ("I don't play
folk-rock" was Bob Dylan's comment at a December 1965 press conference
in San Francisco.) This is even true to some extent more than 35 years
later, among the more than 100 musicians, producers, managers, etc. I

So I don't try to define folk-rock too rigorously in the book. But
generally, I took the view of folk-rock as music that, in varying
admixtures, took the best elements of both folk and rock music and
combined them into a new style that neither folk nor rock could have
reached on their own. That can be the case whether it's an original
song, a cover of a Bob Dylan song, or a cover of a traditional folk
song. The Byrds sometimes did all of those things within the same

In my introduction, I note that I'd rather be more inclusive than less
inclusive, covering all important music that could fall under a
folk-rock umbrella rather than defining it too strictly. Musical
"purism," which was prevalent in many factions of the early-'60s folk
community, was what many folk-rockers were reacting to in the first
place, and one of folk-rock's strengths was its flexibility and
eclecticism. This was one of the chief differences between "folk" and
"folk-rock." Folk-rock was changing constantly, incredibly rapidly; as
Donovan told me, "Folk-rock is not only a sound. It is a manifesto of

Thus the book takes in all music of the mid-1960s that borrowed from
both folk and rock, with the Mamas and the Papas probably representing
the most pop-influenced edge of the spectrum; the Fugs at the most
radical, political, and subversive edge; emerging singer-songwriters
like Fred Neil, Tim Hardin, Ian & Sylvia, Judy Collins, and Richard &
Mimi Farina, who were barely using electric instruments on their first
folk-rock recordings, at the folkiest corner; and even some garage
bands (like the Leaves, of "Hey Joe" fame) and the Turtles (whose first
hit, "It Ain't Me Babe," was a Bob Dylan cover) that at times plugged
into folk-rock. If there were two artists that mixed the sounds of folk
and rock more effectively than any other, they were the Byrds and Bob
Dylan. I view the Byrds specifically as the Beatles of folk-rock, in
that they were the music's center, much as the Beatles were the center
of the British Invasion.

As to how I addressed folk-rock's definitions and misconceptions in
the main body of the book, I tended to group certain sub-genres of
folk-rock into their own sections, while maintaining a general
chronological flow and progression moving from early 1964 to mid-1966
(with one chapter on the music's roots in the early-'60s folk revival).
I.e. there were the California bands emerging on Sunset Strip in the
wake of the Byrds, like Buffalo Springfield, Love, and the Leaves; the
very few British folk-rockers of note at the time (only Donovan really
made a major contribution in the mid-1960s); the teen garage bands that
borrowed liberally from folk-rock; and the singer-songwriters emerging
from the topical folk song movement who started to gingerly electrify.
I took particular pleasure in drawing connections and illustrating
influences between these somewhat different schools, setting in relief
both their differences and their common ground. I also took care to
note how folk-rock influenced rock musicians not commonly classified as
folk-rockers, particularly the Beatles in their "Rubber Soul" period,
but also British Invaders like Them (who covered Paul Simon and Bob
Dylan songs) and Manfred Mann (who Dylan anointed as his favorite

I also wove in many quotes from both my first-hand interviews and
articles from the mainstream news press, the music trade press, and the
more underground folk press, to reflect the many (and sometimes
contradictory) ways folk-rock was viewed and defined when it was
actually happening. The media was about as variable in its definition
of folk-rock then as listeners and critics are today. Sometimes it was
even hostile, whether in its negative aesthetic critiques of the music,
or in fanning accusations of drug and sex allusions that today seem
mild and silly, but helped at the time to curtail the airplay of
classics like "Eight Miles High."

It should be noted that the book only goes up to mid-1966, so it
doesn't cover everything that folk-rock encompasses, even if we limit
that to what it encompassed in the 1960s. Other important branches of
1960s folk-rock -- country-rock, the birth of the singer-songwriting
movement, the British folk-rock of artists like Fairport Convention and
Nick Drake, and the psychedelic folk-rock of California bands like the
Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Country Joe & the Fish -- are
covered in the book's sequel, "Eight Miles High," which comes out in
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #3 of 288: Dave Zimmer (zimmerdave) Wed 25 Sep 02 11:36
Great answer, Richie.  Can't wait to read "Eight Miles High" next
year. Meanwhile, in "Turn! Turn! Turn!," I was fascinated by your
coverage of many of the behind-the-scenes people. Among them, how
important was Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman to the evolution of
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #4 of 288: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 25 Sep 02 14:11
As brief background, Jac Holzman was president and founder of Elektra
Records. By 1964 or so, Elektra was the best and most innovative
independent folk music record company in America, along with its rival
Vanguard Records. Holzman was not a simple office executive (Elektra
was in any case still pretty small). He was directly involved in the
production of many Elektra Records, and in signing and working with
many of its artists.

Jac Holzman was important to folk-rock in that he was among the
earliest  record industry figures to see the potential of expanding
recorded folk music from simple acoustic arrangements and traditional
material to fuller, and eventually electric, arrangements and songs by
young, contemporary singer-songwriters. This was evident in some
Elektra releases even before folk-rock really took off in 1965. Judy
Henske's "High Flying Bird" (later covered by numerous rock artists,
including the Jefferson Airplane), recorded circa late 1963, is about
as close to folk-rock as anything recorded before 1964.

Also around late 1963, Judy Collins recorded her third Elektra album,
"#3," which included covers of songs by writers like Bob Dylan and
Hamilton Camp (most famous for "Pride of Man," later covered by
Quicksilver Messenger Service). More importantly, it also included a
cover of Pete Seeger's "Turn! Turn! Turn!" that was much more musically
attractive than the plaintive Seeger original. Playing guitar and
arranging that song, in addition to playing guitar and arranging on
much of the rest of the album, was a young pre-Byrds Roger McGuinn. It
wasn't a folk-rock song  (or album), but it was a crucial transition in
the song's process from folk ballad to the full electric folk-rock
version the Byrds, with Roger McGuinn on lead guitar, took to #1 in
late 1965. The album, incidentally, also featured a version of Seeger's
"The Bells of Rhymney," which McGuinn and the Byrds would again record
in a full electric folk-rock version for their first album.

In 1964, there was an obscure Elektra single by Dino Valenti, author
of "Get Together" (a hit for the Youngbloods in the late 1960s), that
matches folky songs to weird pop-rock production and pop-soul backup
vocals, complete with harpsichord by then-session man Leon Russell. An
outtake Valenti did at the time, "Black Betty," sounds pretty close to
the blues-folk-rock of early-1965 Bob Dylan. And lastly, Elektra issued
a single by the Beefeaters around the end of 1964, "Please Let Me Love
You"/"Don't Be Long." The Beefeaters were actually an early version of
the Byrds, with Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, and Gene Clark, with L.A.
session men comprising the rhythm section. It's pretty close to the
sound of the Byrds in 1965, if more Beatlesque and primitive.

In 1965 and 1966, Elektra made important, if sometimes tentative,
early folk-rock recordings by Fred Neil, Judy Collins, Tom Rush, Love,
and Tim Buckley. The significance of this is not solely in the quality
of those albums, though they were pretty high. It also conferred
considerable respectability on folk-rock to have an established folk
label move into folk-rock (and an established folk star like Judy
Collins move into folk-rock), at a time when that was considered a
sellout by many folk purists. If Elektra was doing it, the reasoning
could go, folk-rock couldn't be that bad.

As Crawdaddy editor Paul Williams is quoted in my book, "It was
interesting and very cool that Love was on Elektra. That would cause
folk music fans at college radio, which I was, actually, to start
listening to 'Message to Pretty' and the first Love album, and discover
they liked it. But they would listen to it *because* it was on
Elektra. 'Message to Pretty,' you couldn't resist that if you were a
folk fan. And it wasn't just like, 'Well, I like Love, but I only like
these songs.' Pretty soon you liked the whole thing. It was like you
were discovering that the new rock and roll was *your* music."

In more specific contributions, Holzman was courageous enough to open
a west coast office and start signing west coast-based acts like Love
and Tim Buckley, when few indie labels that started in the east coast
were doing things like that. He was also promoting acts like Love and
Tim Buckley to the LP market, which automatically gave them more
respectability than folk-rockers whose output was based around attempts
at hit singles. Holzman was also recognized as a record label
president actually in touch with the grass roots of its fan base.
Holzman advertised in piddly-dink folkzines that could have had no
chance of affording his product great exposure, apparently more as a
gesture of support than profit-driven marketing; wrote personal
missives to the letters section of tiny-circulation periodicals like
the Little Sandy Review; and personally befriended young
folk-turned-rock journalists like Paul Nelson and Paul Williams.

Holzman and Elektra were not perfect; no record label and its
president could be. Elektra let Phil Ochs and Tom Rush go at the point
when both of those artists were reaching their peaks. Phil Ochs's one
electric folk-rock recording for Elektra, an excellent electric
arrangement of his "I Ain't Marching Anymore" (with the Blues Project
as backup band), was inexplicably only released in the UK. Holzman
didn't sign the Beefeaters to a long-term contract, and they became the
Byrds and went to Columbia. Elektra missed opportunities to sign Janis
Ian, the Lovin' Spoonful, Buffalo Springfield, James Taylor, and Joni
Mitchell, in some cases because they couldn't compete with better
financial offers from bigger labels, and in some cases because of
errors of judgement. Some of the artists Elektra did sign weren't that
good; David Blue's sole album, a 1966 Elektra release, is about as
gauche a mid-1960s Bob Dylan imitation as was ever released. Later in
the 1960s, naturally, Elektra moved further away from a folk-rock base,
particularly with the success of the Doors, though they continued to
sign interesting folk-rock acts like the Incredible String Band and the
much more obscure British folk-rock group Eclection.

But generally, Elektra's folk-rock releases, though small in number,
kept to a very high standard, in content and in its legendary artwork.
Holzman also seems to have been one of the fairer record executives of
his time in paying and respecting his artists, though standards of
financial renumeration throughout the industry were pretty low. He was
generally willing to be far more open-minded about moving from acoustic
to electric music, and taking some bold artistic chances in his
signings and studio production (whether he was directly involved or
delegated this to others), than most record executives of the era,
whether from a major label or an independent one.
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #5 of 288: David Gans (tnf) Wed 25 Sep 02 18:34

Welcome, Richie, and welcome back, Dave!

I really love this book!  It made me want to listen to hours and hours of
music -- the stuff in my collection and lots of records I never heard but now
feel are essential.

And like Dave, I can't wait for the next volume!
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #6 of 288: Dave Zimmer (zimmerdave) Thu 26 Sep 02 06:52
With a combination of intensive research and many personal, first-hand
interviews, you obviously had a wealth of material to work with. What
were some of the keys to threading it all together into a fluid
narrative? And at what point in the process did you (or your publisher)
decide that your folk-rock study was going to be presented in two
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #7 of 288: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Thu 26 Sep 02 09:25
One of the keys was striking a balance between first-hand interview
material, research from archival material such as press clippings and
quotes from the time, and detailed yet critical description of the
music. I didn't want those without enormous expertise in the subject to
feel lost. At the same time I wanted to supply enough layers of detail
to interest and educate readers who brought a good deal of knowledge
to the topic already.

It was also important to maintain something of a chronological
progression so that readers could see how musicians influenced each
other, and the music itself changed, over time. It's impossible to do a
month-by-month sort of progression, as you might be able to do with a
biography of one artist or one band, because so much was happening at
once all over the place (though, as it happens, it seemed like most of
the crucial innovations came from New York City and Los Angeles). But
at the same time, it's vital not to assume readers are overly familiar
with the story, or get ahead of yourself by not grouping events in at
least the general vicinity of each other.

Most crucially, I think, there had to be some flow and connectivity
when I went from performer to performer, movement to movement, and
reaction to counterreaction. This could be something as simple as, when
transiting from discussing the Byrds' recording of "Mr. Tambourine
Man" to Dylan's recording of "Bringing It All Back Home," noting that
Dylan was working on that within days of the Byrds recording the
single, and that both were recording for Columbia Records, though on
different coasts. Or it could be a little more complex, as in grouping
the solo folk-rock New York singer-songwriters that emerged around
early 1966 according to the labels they recorded, so that it wasn't
just a few paragraphs on a dozen different artists with no links
between them. You can have fun with this too, as in noting the odd
circumstance in which the ultimate angst protest rock singer (Barry
McGuire) gave the ultimate sunshine pop folk-rock group (the Mamas &
the Papas) their biggest break, as a way of guiding the text from Barry
McGuire to the Mamas & the Papas, who both emerged at roughly the same
time (the Mamas just a bit later than McGuire) and shared the same

In crude terms, the text's something of a huge shaggy dog story. But
putting in a constant transitional links, I hope, made the mass of
information interrelate and also made for a more pleasing reading
experience. There are some other books that cover a musical genre by
leaping from performer to performer, era to era, and so forth. While I
do read some of those as I admire them for their information and
research, I wish in general they were more conscious of being
reader-friendly, as they're jumpy and hard to read in many cases. You
can have both the information and an intelligent book that's pleasant
and fun to read.

Also, although I wove in a fair amount of background commentary on the
sociopolitical climate of the era and how it shaped some of the music
(and how some of the music shaped it), I determined early on that it
would be secondary to the story of the music. This was the source of
some conflict when I was first shaping my proposal in 1998; there was
some sentiment among people working with me (not my publisher) that it
should be something like half a history of 1960s folk-rock, and half a
history of 1960s social change and popular culture. I thought this
would have been a big mistake, and would have caused the book to read
poorly and not really satisfy either music fans or social historians.
There are uncounted books about 1960s history, politics, and culture.
There was not a single book, however, that went into the whole history
of 1960s folk-rock in great depth. I believed it made far more sense to
focus mostly on the 1960s folk-rock, and on the sociopolitical factors
as they related to folk-rock.

Originally I planned this as a 400-page single-volume work, covering
folk-rock through the entire 1960s. When I finished the manuscript, it
was evident that it wasn't going to fit into 400 pages. The publisher
and I then determined that we should do two 300-page volumes, as I had
so much material and it would have really taken some of the guts out of
the story to cut it down. This in turn allowed me to do quite a bit of
additional interviews and research for the second volume (covering
mid-1966 to 1970) over the first half of 2002, and I think the coverage
of those years has improved substantially as a result.
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #8 of 288: Dave Zimmer (zimmerdave) Thu 26 Sep 02 11:20
As you were putting together "Turn! Turn! Turn!", what were some of
your favorite "surprise discoveries" and who, in your view, are a
couple of the most important unsung folk-rock artists that you
unearthed and subsequently shed light on in your book? 
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #9 of 288: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Thu 26 Sep 02 12:27
Much of what I found in my research confirmed things I knew or
suspected, rather than being that surprising. I'm not sure what *the*
most surprising thing was that I found out, but here are a few of them.
Some of them aren't central issues in the folk-rock story, just
aspects that definitely did surprise me and which I'd not read about
before in other sources.

Several artists on the Vanguard Records label made the point that they
felt Vanguard put much more promotion behind their classical catalog
than their folk and rock roster. This surprised me, since Joan Baez was
bringing in so much money for them, and to a lesser degree they were
selling a great deal of records with their folk and folk-rock roster:
Ian & Sylvia, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Richard & Mimi Farina, their Newport
Folk Festival compilations, and much more.

*Many* more American folk artists cited the Beatles as their reason
for going electric, rather than Bob Dylan. I would have guessed this,
but the ratio was extreme; I think only three or four artists cited
Dylan as a motivation for going electric, whereas tons of people cited
the Beatles.

The folk magazine Sing Out is often cited as among the forefront of
the leaders of purists resistant to folk-rock. Going through the
magazines and talking to some contributors (including editor Irwin
Silber), it was quite apparent that the magazine actually did present a
wide spectrum of opinions, some against electric folk-rock, some for

Although unfortunately I was unable to locate the author of the
Billboard page one article on June 12, 1965 about folk-rock (Elliot
Tiegel), it does seem that this story was responsible for actually
coining the term "folk-rock," something I'd never seen specifically
cited before (though I did read speculation once that Tiegel originated
the term).

Happy Traum's story about Ahmet Ertegun wanting his folk group, the
New World Singers, to go electric in the early 1960s (pre-British
Invasion) was something I'd never heard about before, though he
actually assumed I must have heard about it and I had to prompt him to
relate the whole story.

I never knew about those very early folkies in Los Angeles circa
1964-early 1965 trying to go electric by putting DeArmond pickups in
their acoustics and trying to (unsuccessfully) simulate an electric
guitar, which I found amusing. They even stuffed towels inside the
guitars to keep them from feeding back before they realized they really
had to get real electric guitars instead of trying to get around the
expense and effort of learning to play amplified instruments.

Chris Hillman's story about Randy Sparks, who had a stable of
wholesome young variety folk revival groups, trying to get the Byrds
off Columbia because of jealousy was something I'd never heard before.

I was surprised how many people cited the Paul Butterfield Blues Band
as influential in opening the folk circuit to electric rock, as I'd
never really thought of them as a folk-rock band.

I was surprised how many future L.A. folk-rockers played at Disneyland
in wholesome folk combos before going electric.

After I was done, I was surprised to realize how there were virtually
no women involved in the business/promotion/industry side of folk-rock
(management, record label executives, club owners, journalists, session
musicians), though there were quite a few women involved as

I was very surprised by how differently some of the British people I
interviewed define "folk-rock" than Americans do. (That comes more into
play in my upcoming sequel, "Eight Miles High.") Some of them take a
much more rigorous view, thinking of it quite literally as a band
playing a traditional folk song with electric instruments, a la
Fairport Convention, and thinking of someone like Neil Young (whom I
view as one of the *definitive* folk-rockers) as just a rock star. But
on the other hand, many British listeners and musicians have a very
similar take on what folk-rock is as Americans do, and revere Neil
Young as a definitive folk-rocker, so it's an odd discrepancy.

Although there was supposedly a raging debate of purists vs. electric
folk-rockers in 1965-66, I really couldn't find any purist who still
felt strongly that folk-rock was bad and a sellout 35 years later.
Maybe a bunch of them changed their opinions, maybe some of them are
embarrassed to admit it.

There are quite a few unsung folk-rock artists I cover in the book:
Richard & Mimi Farina, the Daily Flash, Jim & Jean, the Leaves, P.F.
Sloan, Tim Hardin, and others. I'll just comment here on a few. Fred
Neil was the singer-songwriter's singer-songwriter, not too popular
among the public, but influential on a posse of other, usually slightly
younger musicians: David Crosby, Stephen Stills, John Sebastian (who
recorded with Neil as a sideman), Barry McGuire, Denny Doherty of the
Mamas & the Papas, Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane. He's most
known as the author of "Everybody's Talkin'" (a hit for Nilsson), but
did a few fine albums mixing light folk-rock with blues, pop, country,
and a magnificent super-low voice. The Rising Sons were a very
interesting Los Angeles group that featured Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder in
the same band, blending blues, rock, folk, and British Invasion, but
only recorded one single (though a good CD with about twenty additional
tracks came out in the 1990s). The Blue Things were in my opinion the
finest obscure folk-rock band of the mid-1960s, sounding like a cross
between the Byrds and the Beau Brummels. They were pretty popular in
the Midwest (they were from Kansas), but never broke nationally.
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #10 of 288: Dave Zimmer (zimmerdave) Thu 26 Sep 02 14:55
Though hardly unsung, Donovan is rightfully positioned toward the head
of the folk-rock class in your book. Many rock critics, however, have
tended to under-value if not outright dismiss Donovan as a major
artist. Why do you think he has often not received proper recognition? 
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #11 of 288: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Thu 26 Sep 02 17:37
In rock criticism, there's often a bias toward the realistic and the
hard-nosed, rather than the idealistic and the tender-hearted. The
Velvet Underground are always going to get championed by critics
because they delved into decadence, sex, and drugs with abrasive volume
on much (though by no means all) of their material. Musicians like
Donovan, who have a kind of glass-half-full approach and frequently
delve into mythology, fairy tales, children's songs, nursery rhymes,
and such are often put down as pie-eyed hippies, or sappy old farts who
are irrelevant at best and need to be assassinated at worst.

As for myself, I think there's room for both the Velvet Underground
and Donovan. And furthermore, when you bother to investigate the
discography of Donovan (and for that matter the Velvet Underground) in
depth, you find that the music is much more diverse than is usually
acknowledged by black-and-white categorization. Donovan went into some 
pretty ferociously hard-rocking songs like "Season of the Witch" and
"Hurdy Gurdy Man." "Hurdy Gurdy Man" used three future members of Led
Zeppelin, and "Sunshine Superman" had lead guitar by Jimmy Page --
hardly the mark of a softie. He also had some rather cynical and
cutting lyrics from time to time, as in "Season of the Witch."

It's true that he often went into gentle and florid moods that could
get twee, and that his albums (with the notable exception of "Sunshine
Superman") usually were more uneven than those of the major artists of
the era, folk-rock or otherwise. But it's also true that few if any
rock musicians were as good at gentle and florid music as Donovan was. 
"The Fat Angel," "Celeste," "Guinevere," "Three King Fishers," all
from "Sunshine Superman" alone, are good examples of this, as are more
well-known subsequent hits like "Mellow Yellow," "Wear Your Love Like
Heaven," and "Jennifer Juniper." His voice and phrasing sound like no
one else's, and he's an excellent guitar player. (In the 1965 British
Dylan tour documentary "Don't Look Back," Alan Price of the Animals
tells Dylan that Donovan's guitar playing is better than Dylan's,

In Britain especially, Donovan's reputation has suffered because he's
still, unbelievably, often dismissed as a Dylan imitator. Donovan was
only similar to Dylan, however, for about one year (1965), or about two
albums, before moving fully into electric music and establishing his
own vision. Even his 1965 recordings ("Catch the Wind" is the most
famous one) are not Dylan clones -- in my opinion Donovan's early work
was already more melodic than Dylan's, and espousing his own somewhat
more humanistic vision. As Donovan put it to me, Dylan sounded like
Woody Guthrie for five minutes, and Donovan sounded like Dylan for five

But the image of Donovan playing an early pleasant lightweight song in
a hotel room scene "Don't Look Back," followed by Dylan playing "It's
All Over Now Baby Blue," is often seized upon by sweeping historians as
a capsule illustration of a pretender to the throne being shut down by
the king. It should also be borne in mind that when this semi-duel
occurred before the cameras, Donovan was just 18, and Dylan five years
older. When Dylan was 18, he wasn't even a recording artist. He was
still struggling to put over traditional folk songs in coffeehouses.
It's not fair to compare them on the basis of this scene, and it could
actually be argued that Donovan was considerably ahead of where Dylan
had been at the age of 18.

As Donovan also emphasizes in the book, he was almost alone among UK
folkies in his eagerness to embrace electric instruments and expand his
arrangements in the mid-1960s. This was an openness not just to the
basic combination of folk and rock, but also an openness in general to
all kinds of influences from jazz, classical, Indian music, beatnik
poetry, and spiritual pursuits. He was seen as something of a pop
sellout by folk purists, and because he was so anamolous, he was
perhaps at the time and subsequently not given enough credit by either
the folk or the pop world, neither of which could fully claim him as
their own.

Incidentally, one of the most frequent comments I've gotten since the
book has come out is readers thanking me for giving Donovan so much
positive coverage in the book. Numerous musicians I interviewed praised
him as well. There are a lot of closet Donovan fans out there, and
they're not all old wide-eyed hippies, far from it.
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #12 of 288: Dave Zimmer (zimmerdave) Fri 27 Sep 02 06:32
What an excellent discourse on Donovan, Richie. Your book does,
indeed, give him his well-earned due. His music has been in rotation on
my turntable (then CD changer) since the '60s. I can hear "Celeste" in
my mental jukebox right now.  

In advance of the parting of the curtain on this topic (cut to David
and Jon backstage yanking on a knotted and gnarled rope)... a two-part
question ... what inspired you to become a music journalist/book
author? And what led you to folk-rock as a musical point of focus?
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #13 of 288: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Fri 27 Sep 02 10:35
My road to music journalism started, I suppose, like many writers, way
back when I was a childhood fan. In college I started to move from
being just a fan to getting closer to the music in media as a college
radio programmer/announcer. Then I began reviewing records, which led
to a position as an editor of Option magazine from 1985 to 1991, which
covered independent/alternative music of all kinds.

I've been reviewing many records and writing bios for the All Music
Guide for almost ten years, but there was coming a time when reviewing
endless numbers of records wasn't enough. I wanted to get closer to the
stories behind the music and the musicians, and to be able to tell
stories that were more complex and multilayered than a record review or
essay or short article could allow. That led me to begin writing books
in the mid-1990s, which allowed me to interview several hundred
musicians. That to me has always been the most enjoyable part of the

For my first few books, I concentrated on chapters on overlooked or
"cult" rock musicians, which gave me the chance to talk to people whose
stories had either rarely been told or hadn't often been told
properly. That was in itself very exciting, but as often happens the
further along a writer's career process gets, the self-actualization
process began to kick in. Around late 1998 I began thinking of doing a
book that told a whole story, rather than collecting pieces I'd written
on individual artists and bands. Also I wanted to weave in some
social, political, and popular culture history into whatever story I
told as well.

The history of 1960s folk-rock seemed an ideal combination for that
purpose: a style in which two streams came together to form something
new, shaped by social forces of which the musicians were sometimes
barely conscious, and also resulting in a music that in turn helped
shape the times (and helped shape music and culture over the next few
decades). But to be honest, that wasn't even the #1 reason for
selecting the topic. What motivated me more than anything was that I
love the music, was intrigued by how it developed so suddenly and so
explosively, and wanted to find out myself exactly how it happened, as
no other book to my knowledge had done that.

Another consideration was that folk-rock, unlike many styles of music,
is one that never goes stale for me. There are so many different
tributaries to follow, so many rich divergences, that it's hard to
exhaust. And I knew I'd be working on the book for a few years, so it
was important to me that I'd be able to maintain my enthusiasm the
whole way through and not get tired of it. And I didn't, even though
the book ended up being two 300-page books.

And finally, I was eager to broaden my writing and hopefully my
audience to include music and musicians that had an impact on the
mainstream, rather than just the cult fringes. It's been important for
me to expose underrated and neglected artists, but it doesn't mean I
don't revere some major stars as being the most important innovators of
all. In "Turn! Turn! Turn!," I was able to, I hope, shed some new
light on the evolution of Dylan, the Byrds, Donovan, the Mamas & the
Papas, the Lovin' Spoonful, and such well-known groups, at the same
time illustrating how other semi-forgotten artists like Fred Neil and
Richard & Mimi Farina were innovative and influential as well. It's
been the ideal mating of investigating some little-known history of
major figures, and bringing some history of little-known figures to a
more mainstream treatment. Being able to interview nearly 150 people of
the course of the book, some of them of far greater renown than I'd
ever interviewed before (Roger McGuinn, Donovan, John Sebastian, Judy
Collins), was quite a kick as well.
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #14 of 288: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Fri 27 Sep 02 13:12
I can't wait to get my hands on this book, Richie. Thanks for taking
the time and great effort to put it together.

Was it Donovan himself in "Don't Look Back" who calls Dylan, to
Dylan's face, "just a big noise"? (Dylan's reply was something like:
"Yeah, but I'm a bigger noise than you.") 

And... Fascinating info about "Hurdy Gurdy Man." I've never understand
why that remarkable record isn't more highly regarded. It kills. 
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #15 of 288: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 27 Sep 02 13:24

Agree absolutely, and looking forward to this whole discussion!  Funny,
though, I can think of overtly folksy Donovan tunes, but I never thought of
him in that camp at the time.  Unlike those who I'd thought of as Brit
folk rockers, such as Fairport Convention.  Donovan was a sort of magical
soft rock to me more than a body of work I associated with "folk."

I wonder, do you think the music endures better than the label has?  
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #16 of 288: like trying to breathe cream of wheat directly from the blurping vat (sd) Fri 27 Sep 02 16:22
Hi Richie, good to see you here! I was going to remind you of the old Lost
Music Network/OP days pre Option. I've enjoyed your writing since then and
try to keep an eye out for other writers from the period (Calvin Johnson,
Steve Fisk, etc. etc.)

Speaking of Electra, where do you place Koerner, Ray and Glover in all of
this? I'm still amazed by them all these years later.

inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #17 of 288: John Ross (johnross) Fri 27 Sep 02 17:15
Brian Pearson (English folksinger associated with MacColl's Critics Group)
once told me that he was a regular at the same folk club (in St. Albans?) as
Donovan. "When Donovan got up to sing, that was usually a signal for a lot
of people to leave the room and get another pint from the bar". Which
suggests that he was not particularly respected by the hardcore folkies.

I have had the sense that the presence of the record companies with serious
distribution, like Vanguard and Elektra somehow made the New York folk scene
(and to a lesser degree, Cambridge) much more visible than similar scenes in
other places. There was lots happening in places like Chicago, Montreal and
the Bay Area, but it took a lot longer for those folks to become widely

A couple of questions for Richie:

I've always thought Judy Collins' recording of "I'll Keep it With Mine" was
an important transition between the more folk-style sound of her "#3", "In
Concert" and "Fifth Album", and the art-song shtick that she moved into with
"In My Life". Why hasn't that track ever been released, except as a DJ-only

You talk about the Elektra "What's Shakin" album in the book. Because it was
on Elektra, I remember playing in on the radio a lot more than we would have
if it had been on, say, RCA or Epic. Did Holzman et al expect it to be a
turning point toward making Elektra a serious Rock label, or was it just an
effort to cash in on a bunch of old tracks by people who became important on
other labels (like the Lovin Spoonful and eric Clapton)?

You might go into this more in the second book, but I think you understate
the importance of the separate-but-parallel folk revival that was happening
in Britain at the same time--the earlier skiffle fad was hugely important,
as was the impact of peple like Bert Jansch and Martin Carthy. Didn't they
have an impact on the first wave of American folk-rock?
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #18 of 288: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Sat 28 Sep 02 00:32
Here are answers for the above questions, a paragraph at a time.

It was *not* Donovan who calls Dylan "a big noise" in "Don't Look
Back." That was an unidentified (to my knowledge, anyway)
drunken-looking guy at a party in Dylan's hotel. It follows a dispute
about who threw a glass out a window, which prompted complaints from
the hotel. I don't have a copy of "Don't Look Back" handy (I rented it
several times when doing the book), but according to one of my books
Dylan's reply was "I know it, man -- I *know* I'm a big noise." This
*is* the party where Donovan sings "To Sing For You" followed by Dylan
singing "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," but Donovan doesn't argue with
Dylan in the film, and it's pretty hard to imagine Donovan being that
obnoxious, then or now.

Gail, if your question is whether actual folk-rock music has endured
better than the label "folk-rock," I'd say yes. Many people don't think
of Dylan, Donovan, etc. as "folk-rock" anymore, and just think of them
as singer-songwriters or as musicians. The term folk-rock isn't
applied nearly as much in the mainstream media now as it was in the
1960s, though people still listen to and appreciate its originators.
But back then it *was* frequently applied, particularly in 1965 and
1966, and the general liberal application of the term "folk-rock" to
music that prominently mixes elements of folk and rock still has some
meaning, more so to such music of the 1960s than such music of
subsequent decades.

Koerner, Ray and Glover were notable 1960s folk performers in their
execution of energetic White folk-blues. But I just don't hear "rock"
in their recordings, and don't see them as too influential on folk-rock
musicians. I drew a definite line in the book at not including
in-depth coverage of notable '60s folk musicians who didn't do or
barely did any folk-rock, except sometimes to note particularly
important direct influences they had on folk-rock (as Pete Seeger did
by writing "Turn! Turn! Turn!" itself). Except for one chapter on the
roots of folk-rock in the early-'60s folk revival, it's a book about
electric folk-rock music, not about '60s folk music or equally about
'60s folk music and '60s folk-rock.

Judy Collins had this to say to me about "I'll Keep It With Mine"
(only a small part of the quote is used in the book): "I'll tell you
that I seriously, I listened to everything when I put together the
*Forever* compilation for Elektra. I really listened to everything, and
I listened to that. And you know, it's just not very good, honestly.
It's just not very good. We never put it on an album because we didn't
think it was very good. I put up with a lot, you know, you put up with
a lot when you go back and listen to things. And the truth of the
matter is that I don't think there's anything in my archives at Elektra
that was unplaced, that was an orphan, so to speak. Because we picked
-- I picked all the songs, and I recorded them, and we put them on the
albums. We didn't do things we didn't like, and we didn't do things we
weren't sure of. And that's the one exception to the rule. I just don't
like it. I mean, I like the idea. I love the idea that he said, at
least said to me, that he wrote the song for me. Then he told Joanie
Baez that he wrote it for her. And then there was some talk about that,
as to who did what. Of course, he says, in his bootleg tape album, and
also his retrospective album, that he wrote the song for me. 

"It's not a very good song, particularly. Certainly not a Dylan song
that lives up to its name. It doesn't really go anywhere, the lyric's
kind of (laughs) flat, and the singing is very flat. So I don't like
it. I know that it's around, people tell me about it. But there's a
very good reason that it never made it onto an album. And believe me,
if I had thought it had any legs whatsoever, or that I could live with
it, I would've put it on that compilation. Because, you know, it's a
good talking point, and people get excited. A new album, a new song by
Bobby that nobody's ever heard, or nobody's heard in a long time. But
it's not very good."

So basically, it hasn't been reissued because she doesn't like the

I didn't ask Jac Holzman about "What's Shakin'," which was released
right around the time Elektra put out its first real wall-to-wall
electric rock album (Love's first album) in 1966; "What's Shakin'"'s
catalog # is the one right after "Love." You could email Jac directly
at, an address that he gives on the website of his
autobiography, "Follow the Music" (

I do get into the British '60s folk revival more in my second volume,
because it flowed better to group a bigger discussion of it in the
chapter where I start to discuss the wave of post-Donovan British
folk-rock musicians who started to emerge and record around 1966-67:
the Incredible String Band, the Pentangle, Fairport Convention. But, I 
*don't* think it was all that influential on the first wave of
American folk-rock in the mid-1960s. The influence of skiffle was felt
mostly in how skiffle helped lead to British Invasion groups like the
Beatles, but the Beatles sounded far different from skiffle music by
the time they became popular in America and influenced young acoustic
folk musicians like the future members of the Byrds. Martin Carthy's
influence on Bob Dylan and Paul Simon is noted in the book. But to go
back to my earlier point when talking about Koerner, Ray and Glover, he
did *not* play folk-rock (until the early 1970s with Steeleye Span, at
least), and he wasn't too well known in the States or influential upon
first-generation American folk-rockers. His influence on later British
folk-rockers like Fairport Convention was substantial and is noted in
the second volume, though again Carthy himself didn't do folk-rock in
the 1960s, so the coverage of his own work is not in- depth. Bert
Jansch really wasn't too well known in the States prior to the late
1960s, though Neil Young has cited him as a big influence, as did
Donovan (who covered some of his material and was inspired to write
original songs with Jansch references with "Bert's Blues" and "House of
Jansch"). Jansch is covered far more in the second volume, mostly in
relation to the group Pentangle, of which of course he was a key
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #19 of 288: Dave Zimmer (zimmerdave) Sat 28 Sep 02 04:56
The regional aspects of folk-rock are covered extensively in your
book, with New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco emerging as the
primary U.S. centers of growth. In your view, what where some of the
particular characteristics that differentiated the folk-rock scenes?
And what did they share? 
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #20 of 288: Administrivia (jonl) Sat 28 Sep 02 06:56
Just an administrative comment for those who are following this 
discussion, and are not members of the WELL.  You can join the 
discussion, too, by sending your comments and questions to
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #21 of 288: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Sat 28 Sep 02 09:58
Many musicians traveled back and forth between New York and California
as they were getting established, so it's harder to separate the two
scenes than it might appear. The Mamas & the Papas tell that story in
"Creeque Alley," where they sing about coming back to New York after
forming in the Virgin Islands, to find that friends like Roger McGuinn
and Barry McGuire who used to spend time in Greenwich Village have made
it in L.A. (and of course the Mamas themselves soon followed them to

Generally, though, New York folk-rock emphasized solo
singer-songwriters considerably more than Los Angeles folk-rock, which
emphasized groups. There really weren't that many notable New York
folk-rock groups, the most important exception naturally being the
Lovin' Spoonful. There were also the Fugs, whose folk roots weren't
quite as extensive as the Lovin' Spoonful; the Blues Project, who only
went into folk-rock rather than blues-rock once in a while; and the
Youngbloods, who emerged a little after the Lovin' Spoonful, who also
spent a lot of time on the Cambridge scene, and who moved to San
Francisco not far into their recording career.

Session musicians were important to both New York and Los Angeles
folk-rock. But generally the approach and attitude of session musicians
and production was a little staider in New York, and looser and more
comfortable with rock in Los Angeles. New York session musicians were
more old-school, and that's one of the reasons you find so many of the
same people -- Al Kooper, Bruce Langhorne, Harvey Brooks -- showing up
on so many of the early New York folk-rock recordings, by Dylan and
others. It wasn't easy to find relatively young (very young, as in the
case of Al Kooper and some others) and sympathetic musicians who could
support this new music. As producer/manager Arthur Gorson (who worked
with Tom Rush, Phil Ochs, Jim & Jean, David Blue, and others) says in
the book, "We knew the people who played with Dylan, because they were
around the same scene.  We didn't know anyone else. *We* were the only
people we knew!"

In L.A., by contrast, there were A-team session musicians like Hal
Blaine, Carol Kaye, Joe Osborne, and Earl Palmer who had the same level
of professionalism as their New York counterparts, but were looser and
more adaptable to any style, including folk-rock. Earl Palmer might be
most known for playing New Orleans R&B and rock, as he did with Little
Richard, but he's actually the drummer on the very first single by the
Byrds -- not "Mr. Tambourine Man," but the one that McGuinn, David
Crosby, and Gene Clark did for Elektra before that as the Beefeaters.
Palmer also plays drums on Judy Henske's 1963 recording "High Flying
Bird," which as noted in an earlier question was about as close as
anyone came to folk-rock prior to 1964. The Byrds, incidentally, did
use top L.A. session men including Leon Russell and Hal Blaine on "Mr.
Tambourine Man," though McGuinn played the 12-string guitar (could it
have been anyone else?). There's no evidence, however, that session men
comprised the group on anything but the Byrds' first single, and the
group has to continue to fend off accusations that they didn't play on
their subsequent records to this day.

Getting more into some stylistic differences between New York and L.A.
folk-rock, generally New York folk-rock had a lot more introspection,
topicality, and angst, while Los Angeles folk-rock was kind of sunnier,
more into expressions of personal joy and liberation, a little more
melodic, and more tied into instrumental virtuosity and interplay
(which in turn ties into the different session players some artists
used). Those are over-generalizations with many exceptions, of course,
but generally you see those tendencies often.

There were a couple of quotes about this from industry figures in the
book that comment on the East-West Coast differences. Jac Holzman,
president of Elektra Records, said, "California in that period was a
hangin'-out place. People would just get together, coagulate into a
group. The social scene was extremely flexible and flowing. People were
in and out of bands day by day. Everybody was up at everybody's house.
It was a very special dynamic that was going on, that New York was
conducitve to. You don't sort of lie out under the stars in New York,
get loaded, pass the guitar around, smoke a joint, do harmonies. That
doesn't happen in New York that easily. But it sure happened in L.A."

Michael Ochs, manager of his brother Phil Ochs and now a major
archivist of rock photos and recordings, said this: "Most of the record
companies were based in the east, so I think the West Coast was more
experimental. I think the Byrds wouldn't have been able to record as
well as they did as soon if they were on the east. There were no
traditions, there were no limitations as far as, 'Well, this is not
done.' It was a much more open scene, and definitely slicker, because
the West Coast is much more teen-oriented. The East Coast is a little
more staid."

I'm not commenting so much on the differences in the San Francisco
folk-rock scene because that emerged as a folk-rock center a little
later, and a more briefly, than NYC or LA did. Also it emerged just a
little too late to be covered in "Turn! Turn! Turn!," although the
contributions of SF acts the Beau Brummels and the We Five are noted;
it'll be covered much more thoroughly in the sequel "Eight Miles High,"
in the first chapter in fact.

But generally, San Francisco folk-rock had a yet looser and more
freewheeling vibe, I think in part because unlike NYC or LA it wasn't a
major recording center. It might be hard to conceive of today, when
the San Francisco area's best recording studios are as state-of-the-art
as any, but back in 1965 it was still the provinces as far as the
industry went. Even after San Francisco folk-rock and
folk-rock-influenced groups like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead,
Country Joe & the Fish, and Big Brother emerged, they actually often
did little or no recording in San Francisco; the Airplane recorded in
LA and didn't record in SF until "Volunteers" in 1969.

So musicians were, at least at the very beginning of the summer of
Love, out of the major media eye and recording center, and developed
their music in a manner less concerned with making it and following
trends. Stylistically, over-generalizing again, San Francisco folk-rock
had a more bittersweet melodic flavor, alternating major and minor
modes very skillfully, and also conjuring some very pleasing
dissonances in the harmonies, as oxymoronic as "pleasing dissonances"
might sound. You hear this in the male-female harmonic blends of
Jefferson Airplane (particularly between Marty Balin and Grace Slick),
certainly, and also in such relatively unknown acts like Blackburn &
Snow, who only did a couple of singles, but were in my opinion, along
with the Blue Things, the best obscure folk-rock act of the 1960s. (A
20-track Blackburn & Snow CD, filled out with a lot of unreleased
material, is now available.)

In addition, and again I get into this a lot in "Eight Miles High,"
the transition from folk to folk-rock to folk-rock-influenced
psychedelia was more rapid in San Francisco than anywhere else. Drugs
had a lot to do with that, of course, but so did the city's unique
social climate at the time and the musicians' countercultural
open-mindedness to new ideas. They rapidly assimilated ideas from jazz
improvisation and Indian-influenced music to create something different
from folk-rock, even if it was psychedelic music that often had a
folk-rock base. It's not often mentioned, but most of the major San
Francisco psychedelic rock bands -- the Airplane, Country Joe & the
Fish, the Dead, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Quicksilver
Messenger Service -- were in part or largely comprised of ex-folkies,
who went into psychedelic music very quickly after going through brief
folk-rock phases, sometimes making folk-rock a big part of their music
initially (Jefferson Airplane), sometimes just showing some hints of it
in their early repertoire (Big Brother, Quicksilver). There were also
minor San Francisco Bay Area bands that made similar transitions, like
the Charlatans and Mad River.
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #22 of 288: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Sat 28 Sep 02 13:17
Richie, thanks for clearing up the Donovan question in the "Don't Look
Back" documentary. The "big noise" guy had the same dark curly hair as

This has all been terribly fascinating. We're all interested here, of
course, in the subject you address in "Turn! Turn! Turn!" and "Eight
Miles High," but I'm wondering how you pitched the books for
prospective publishers. Did the success of "Positively 4th Street" by
David Hajdu help your cause? (Well, I don't know if the Hajdu book is
considered a success by a publishers' standard.) Are the books you
delivered the ones you pitched? If not, what were the changes in
approach, and how were they decided?  
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #23 of 288: tambourine verde (barb-albq) Sat 28 Sep 02 13:23
Excellent discussion. It made me remember a picture of Donovan I used
to have on my bedroom wall as a teen. It was from some Brit music
magazine and featured Donovan, looking about 10 years old, wearing his
all-denim outfit, including working man cap, and holding a beat up
acoustic with a sticker on it saying "This machine kills." As
discussed, he rather quickly morphed into the psychedelic dream guy as
he left behind the folky facade in favor of much more adventurous
music. I'm among that bunch who think his music and contributions are
very underrated. I was unaware of Zep member particpation on the Hurdy
Gurdy era recordings. Thanks for that. And I must read the book...
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #24 of 288: Dave Zimmer (zimmerdave) Sat 28 Sep 02 13:27
>Blackburn & Snow, who only did a couple of singles, but were in my
opinion, along with the Blue Things, the best obscure folk-rock act of
the 1960s. >A 20-track Blackburn & Snow CD, filled out with a lot of
unreleased material, is now available. 

A Blackburn & Snow CD exists? I'll definitely have to check that out.
I had a chance to get to know Jeff Blackburn in the summer of 1977 when
he was playing with Neil Young in a Santa Cruz bar band called The
Ducks. Blackburn's music, at that time, was funky "country roll." I
must admit I've never heard a track by Blackburn & Snow. What was their
sound like? 
inkwell.vue.160 : Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
permalink #25 of 288: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Sat 28 Sep 02 13:30
>>>Stylistically, over-generalizing again, San Francisco folk-rock had
a more bittersweet melodic flavor, alternating major and minor modes
very skillfully, and also conjuring some very pleasing dissonances in
the harmonies, as oxymoronic as "pleasing dissonances" might sound. You
hear this in the male-female harmonic blends of Jefferson Airplane
(particularly between Marty Balin and Grace Slick)...<<<

I remember reading, years ago, comments by Marty Balin about why he
and the Airplane's original singer, Signe Anderson, chose to harmonize
in fifths rather than in the more traditional (and certainly more
traditional folk) thirds, but I cannot remember now the reason, alas.
In any event the singing-in-fifths continued with Slick, though I think
across rock history it's a pretty unusual male-female harmony choice. 

(I might've read his comments in "The Jefferson Airplane and the San
Francisco Sound," the book by the late Ralph J. Gleason, long out of
print, though I've got a copy upstairs and I guess I could look this


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