The Gaslight was originally a ‘basket house’, where performers were paid the proceeds of a passed-around basket. Opened in 1958 by John Mitchell…, the dark, steamy, subterranean Gaslight had showcased beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso but became a folk club when Sam Hood took over. Dylan premiered “Masters of War” and many other songs here…
Ralph Rinzler, Bob Dylan, and John Herald, Gaslight Café, 1961 (John Cohen).
The Gaslight Cafe, 116 MacDougal Street. L: Dylan playing there in 1962; R: an exterior shot c. 1962
As previously mentioned, the basement of 116 MacDougal street which was formerly the Gaslight as described in Chronicles Volume 1 is now a bar called The Up and Up. However, all reference to the historical significance of this locality has been removed. But someone with a reasonable imagination and a strong sense of history as well as a feeling for the spirit of place can visit many of the scenes of events in the book – the hotel Earle, now the Washington Square Hotel has some of the original feel of the period (the stairway below), MacDougal is still a grubby music, comedy, bar scene, the Square is still full of music on a good day, the Music Inn is still as quirky as it was described in the book and just to walk the streets – well, most of the buildings are still there. You read this book and you can’t help becoming immersed in the period so why not add a physical presence if you can. It’s as close as you can get but it’s there.
The Gaslight in the late 50s, with Liz’s 65-cent hamburgers advertised in the window of Caricature (© Photo-File Service)
(The Gaslight Cafe on 116 McDougal Street in Greenwich Village – 1958 – became the launch pad for Dylan of the 1960s folk scene).
Bob Dylan – New York City, NY, Gaslight Café (September 1961 & 15th October 1962) [Gaslight Tapes]
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