A chance to see Bob Dylan's handwritten lyrics to "Blowin' in the Wind" along with other treasures of American folk music go on display at the Museum of the City of New York Wednesday. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed this report.
Folk music began in rural America but a new exhibit shows how NYC became the heart of the american folk music revival in the 50s and 60s, attracting greats like Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, Odetta and more.
“So New York became a magnet for performers but it’s also the place where the record labels were, the radio stations, the publishers, the music stores, and altogether that made this web that launched folk music to becoming a national phenomenon,” says chief curator and deputy director Sarah Henry.
It was a revival of traditional american music and new songs written and performed in that style.
Stephen Petrus coauthored the book "Folk City: New York and the American Folk Music Revival"—which inspired this exhibit. He also tracked down many of the artifacts.
“Original hand-written lyrics to Bob Dylan’s songs ‘Blowing in the Wind,’ ‘Masters of War,’ ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ and ‘Maggie’s Farm.’ Really jewels. We’ve got Odetta’s guitar—she was considered the voice of the Civil Rights Movement, Leadbelly’s guitar, numerous instruments, concert posters, flyers from the venues in the village like Gerdes Folk City, The Bitter End, The Gaslight Café,” says Petrus.
Bob Dylan is, of course, an iconic figure in the folk music scene but eventually he went electric. Well, that controversy will also be explored.
“We’re going to have a program in late July to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ‘Dylan going Electric’ at the Newport Folk Festival so we’ve got a few Dylan experts here,” Petrus says.
The exhibit celebrates this era of music, but also connect the dots to much of what's hot today in indie rock, folk rock and beyond. Folk City is up through November.
For more information, go to MCNY.org.