Friday, December 30, 2011

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxviii)

By late May 1971, I had written enough original protest folk songs-- that reflected a late 1960s anti-imperialist New Left revolutionary consciousness--and folk love songs--that reflected a male radical feminist left perspective--for some kind of vinyl record album that I felt a label like Folkways, Vanguard or Elektra might be interested in distributing.

But although I had played tenor saxophone in high school bands for three years, I no longer knew anyone else who was a musician. And I did not know anyone who might be able to get Folkways, Vanguard or Elektra interested in recording protest folk songs and folk love songs like “He Walked Up The Hill,” “Livin’ On Stolen Goods,” “Open Up Your Eyes,” “Bloody Minds,” and “Waitin’ For The People,” that I had already written by this time.

Within the Belmont neighborhood in the Bronx where I lived, the Italian-American white guys in their early 20s who hung out on the corner at 188th Street and Cambreling Street were still just into singing Dion and the Belmonts’ hits from the late 1950s and early 1960s a cappella. And they neither needed me to accompany them on a guitar nor had any interest in either listening to the kind of protest folk or folk love songs that I was then writing or to any other kind of folk music.

And the younger teenage guys whom I had heard perform at some kind of neighborhood talent contest that was held one Sunday afternoon in a local school auditorium a few months earlier were just into loudly playing cover songs of 1960s “bubble gum” rock music (that they had heard on the AM radio stations) with their electric guitars in a skillful way, in their Beatles-imitation band groups. And they seemed unaware that there had ever been such a thing as an early 1960s commercial folk music boom in the USA.

So starting out with no New York City folk music sub-culture contacts and no New York City record industry contacts and no money except my initial welfare check payment, it was hard to know where to begin in any attempt to get the protest folk and folk love songs I had written onto a record, on the radio airwaves or into the world outside of my rent-controlled slum apartment in the Bronx.