Archive for May 1st, 2023

GC Myers- Secret Garden

Secret Garden— At the Principle Gallery

Well, I wake up in the mornin’
And the ding dong rings
You go a marchin’ to the table
You see the same old thing
Baby, all I want to tell ya
A knife, a fork and a pan
And if you say a thing about it
You’re in trouble with the man

Let the midnight special
Shine a light on me
Let the midnight special
Shine it’s everlovin’ light on me

The Midnight Special, Leadbelly

A little busy this Monday morning but I thought I’d share another song from the recently departed Harry Belafonte. This is his take on the folk classic, The Midnight Special, from 1962. It’s a notable performance because it marks the first time that Bob Dylan appears on a released recording. Relatively unknown at the time, Dylan was brought in at the last minute to fill in on harmonica when Sonny Terry, the celebrated bluesman who Belafonte and his producers wanted for the session, became suddenly unavailable. 

Belafonte wrote of the session and how Dylan came in with a bag filled with harmonicas. After they established the key and tuning, Dylan picked out one from the bag, soaked it in water, then did his part. When Belafonte was satisfied with the take, they asked if  Dylan wanted to hear the tape. Dylan said no. He then headed out the door, stopping to throw the harmonica into a garbage can.

Belafonte watched and wondered if this was a display of disdain and disrespect for Belafonte’s music. He later found out that Dylan was using cheap dime store harmonicas and that they were often of little use after the way he had soaked and played them. Belafonte became a Dylan fan but it wasn’t until  many years later when he read Dylan’s autobiographical book Chronicles that he learned that Dylan was a huge Belafonte fan as well. Dylan felt that his experience with that recording session was one of the most special of his career, being transformative for him. He wrote that he felt “anointed” by having recorded with one of the great men of the time.

It’s a fine version and an interesting story with two giants of music at different points in their careers.

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