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The Conscience of the Folk Revival: The Writings of Israel "Izzy" Young (American Folk Music and Folk Musicians) (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 19. Dezember 2012

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Many fine performers and songwriters flourished in the folk music revival of the 1950s-70s. The general public knows about many of them, but even folk devotees may not know about Izzy Young (b. 1928), a seminal figure in the revival. As a labor of love, Young ran the Greenwich Village store Folklore Center from 1957 to 1973. In addition to offering books, records, and instruments for sale, the Folklore Center became a vital hangout for folk musicians Young encouraged and mentored, for example, Bob Dylan. Young branched out to promote folk concerts, have a radio show, and write articles. This book presents, among other material, all his "Frets and Frails" columns, which ran in the journal Sing Out! from 1959 to 1969. Filled with news of folksingers' lives and creative efforts, the columns offer refreshingly outspoken views of the genre and the music business. Also included in the volume are Young's earlier and later writings and interviews. This material should prove very valuable for researchers of the folk revival and popular culture of the time, and should interest serious fans as well. With this book, Young, who has lived in Sweden since 1973, gets well-deserved recognition. Summing Up: Highly recommended. CHOICE The Conscience of the Folk Revival: The Writings of Israel "Izzy" Young is the definitive account of [Young's] folk revival experiences and observations. Living Blues The Conscience of the Folk Revival portrays the activities and values of the Folk Revival through the writings of an important figure within it. Journal of American Folklore Scott Barretta's selections gather together a body of little-known published materials...Some content is newsy, freezeframing points in time. Some insights and observations about Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, part-hero-part-bete noir Alan Lomax, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger and the New Lost City Ramblers might well blow you away. Some targets remain as pertinent today as the day [Izzy Young] delivered them...A romp of a read which will be over too soon. But it won't be done with you. fRoots Izzy Young, pioneer, guiding spirit, and legendary force of nature, makes musical things happen. He saw a lot and heard everything from his Folklore Center perch during the MacDougal Street '60s, and he wrote it all down. This inspired collection, history composed as it happened, tells it like it was, with Izzy's keen intelligence and his hearty generous soul. -- Sean Wilentz, author of Bob Dylan in America It is impossible to imagine the Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1960s without Izzy Young-in a world of quirky, talented characters, he provided a forum that was superlatively quirky and nurtured the greatest talents. I got much of my early education by roaming through the writings collected here, alternately thrilled and exasperated, but always envious because he was at the center of it all. -- Elijah Wald, author of How the Beatles Destroyed Rock N Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Scott Barretta is an instructor of sociology at the University of Mississippi, a writer/researcher for the Mississippi Blues Trail, and the host of the Highway 61 radio show on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. He is former editor of the magazines Jefferson (Swedish) and Living Blues and has written for magazines such as MOJO, Oxford American, and SingOut! Israel Goodman "Izzy" Young, born in Manhattan in 1928, opened the Folklore Center in Greenwich Village in 1957, which sold books, music, and instruments, and served as the unofficial epicenter of the emerging folk music scene. Both on his own and as a founding member of the Friends of Old Time Music, Young staged hundreds of concerts, including most famously Bob Dylan's first. From 1959 to 1969 Young chronicled the folk revival through his "Frets to Frails" column in Sing Out!, where he both documented day-to-day events and also addressed contentious issues including commercialism and copyright. In 1973 Young moved to Stockholm, where he founded the Folklore Centrum.


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A Necessary Reference Volume of the 1960s American Folk Music Revival 15. Mai 2013
Von dirtrdblues - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
In his introduction to the Swedish audio edition of Bob Dylan's 2004 memoir 'Chronicles, Volume One,' the writer, folklore enthusiast, and promoter Israel "Izzy" Young states, "All I wanted in life" was "to be a part of American folkmusic." He was specifically referring to the Folklore Center, his Greenwich Village shop that served as a de-facto headquarters of folk-related activity in New York City from 1957 to 1973, which--as editor Scott Barretta points out--placed Young at the heart of the national folk revival as well. Both an active participant in and an astute observer of the activity around him, Young documented the scene in various personal journals, self-published writings, and magazine columns that Barretta has collected in 'The Conscience of the Folk Revival: The Writings of Israel "Izzy" Young,' the latest edition in Scarecrow Press' American Folk Music and Folk Musicians Series.

A blues writer and researcher familiar to longtime readers of 'Living Blues' as a former editor and frequent contributor, Barretta met Young when he relocated to Sweden in 1992. Young himself has resided there since 1973, where he operates the Folklore Centrum and promotes concerts of indigenous and international folk music, much as he did during the American folk revival while living in his native New York.

Young's most famous association during those years was with Bob Dylan, who became a frequent visitor to Young's establishment soon after arriving in the Village. Young also promoted Dylan's first formal concert in New York City, held at Carnegie Chapter Hall in 1961. Along with Young's own writings on Dylan--fond, yet critical and clear-eyed in turns--the appendix includes Dylan's handwritten manuscripts of two unrecorded songs, "Go Away You Bomb" and "Talking Folklore Center."

Besides Jewish roots and a passion for folk music, Young also shared with Dylan a refusal to be pigeonholed. Young's own folk music initiation came via his involvement with the local folk dance community, and he chose the name "Folklore Center" for his business by virtue of his varied cultural interests: "I think Pete Seeger at the time said it should be called Folk Music Center or Folk Dance Center, but I felt under the strict term `folklore,' I had complete freedom. I could do whatever I wanted."

Likewise, Young was liberal politically without being an ideologue. Possessing a dislike of communism rooted in his working-class upbringing, Young told Irwin Silber, "I still hate you commies, but I'll write for you," when the latter asked him to join the staff of 'Sing Out!' magazine. Young's column, entitled "Frets and Frails," is presented here in its entirety. It largely consisted of brief notations of various happenings both in the Village and in the greater folk music scene: births, marriages, deaths, arrivals, departures, performances, group roster changes, and the like. Besides providing a real-time account of the folk revival's lifespan, the sheer number of names Young listed in his column is a reminder that it involved many more than the handful of most famous figures, rendering this a necessary reference volume of the musical and cultural movement.

More engaging are Young's refreshingly blunt opinions on various issues, which are scattered throughout "Frets and Frails." "American Blues are being recognized in England and Europe while they are not encouraged enough here--especially by Folk Music Journals and Magazines," he wrote in the winter of 1959-1960--a full decade before the founding of 'Living Blues.' He was particularly concerned with matters of copyright: "Did you know that John Lomax Sr. wrote 'Goodnight, Irene'?" Young asked in his second "Sing Out!" column, and over the years he openly criticized those who recorded and copyrighted traditional songs without properly crediting their source or explaining their methodology. In a paper entitled "Folk Music and Copyright, Lomax and Leadbelly," written in the 1990s and included here, Young expanded upon this topic, calling for clarification of the manner in which John and Alan Lomax copyrighted songs recorded by Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter. (See [...] for an explication of the Lomaxes' association with Ledbetter.)

Young is quoted as saying that he has no plans to publish an autobiography, but rather will "write short `stories,' from time to time, that are more like historical accounts, and that feels good to me, sort of my mind actively helping and encouraging me to write the way I like to." This seems a shame, as Barretta notes in his preface the delight Young took in recounting his memories of musicians such as Big Joe Williams, Robert Pete Williams, and Reverend Gary Davis--stories that remain unpublished. Hopefully Young will commit these and more to print, but until then, 'The Conscience of the Folk Revival: The Writings of Israel "Izzy" Young' is the definitive account of his folk revival experiences and observations.

(I originally wrote this review for 'Living Blues'; it appeared in Issue #224/April 2013, p. 68. Re-used here with permission.--Melanie Young)
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