Bob Dylan’s The Story Of East Orange – New Jersey- Live In New York Gaslight Cafe – September 6 – 1961

Bob Dylan's The Story Of East Orange - New Jersey- Live In New York Gaslight Cafe - September 6 - 1961

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Timothy Herrick ([email protected]):

East Orange, which is south of Paterson, is where Woody Guthrie was
hospitalized and died. Dylan visited him in the hospital, an important
historic moment for music.

A city of northeast New Jersey, a residential suburb of Newark. Population, 73,552.

That song is really about Dylan's early disillusionment 
with the New York City Folk scene. He comes to the city,
which is cold and hard, and they call him a hillbilly. He gets a harmonica
job, but it pays nothing. (a dollar a day). The second to last stanza Dylan
quotes Woody Guthrie, "A very Great Man once said that some people rob you
with a fountain pen." The last stanza he leaves, to East Orange, one presumes
to visit Woody Guthrie. 


First time I ever worked in East Orange, New Jersey —
Folks, never go to East Orange, New Jersey,
It’s a horrible town.
I one had to play in a coffeehouse out there.
It was so bad — uh — so bad,
People playing chess out there — uh —
It’s all they thought about
Was chess ‘n’ chess ‘n’ chess.
People come up to me
You play a song, you play a real quiet song’
In the middle of the song ya hear “check”
And “Hey, that was a good move”
And all kinds of stuff like that.

Yes, folks, it was so bad I had a little dream out there
The first night I worked,
About this chess playing stuff.
I dreamed I went to work out in East Orange, New Jersey,
And — uh — about the time I quit in two days
I went there to ask the guy for my money,
“I worked two days for you”
He says, “Uh, well, o.k., we don’t pay money around here, though.”
I says, “Uh, yeah?” He says, “Uh, well”
He says, “Uh, we pay chessmen.”
I said, “Uh, well, gimme my chessmen then. I worked for two days.”

I was sort of — didn’t really figure —
I thought he was lying at first,
But I took it anyway.
He gave me a king and a queen for working two days.
I says, “Uh, fine, that’s o.k.”
So I took my king and queen, went down to a bar, the nearest bar I could find.
I walked in the bar and ordered a pint.
Down the bar, the bartender,
I says, “Can I have a pint?”
I’ll be damned, he give me a pint.
He asks me for the money,
I gave him my king and queen.
I’ll be damned, he took that king and queen,
Threw it under the counter,
And brought me out four pawns, two bishops, and a rook for change.

Little story about East Orange, New Jersey.




*The 1961 East Orange High yearbook references The Cave in a prediction about the 1961 graduates:
“As a late arrival opens the door of East Orange’s famous cafe “The Cave,” his
eyes become accustomed to the smog-like atmosphere and he smells the pungent
espresso coffee perking in time with the beats of the bongos.
Jimmie Hooper’s “Hippers” swing out with a modern version of “On, East
Orange,” while from across the dim room come the opening strains of “Stand
Up and Cheer,” transmitted by Billie Brooks and his combo.
With an experienced air, Al Monica, the Dick Clark of ’81, announces that
David Tute, the versatile entertainer of international renown, will present his
ever-popular night club act.
Suddenly, whistles pierce the smoke as models Judy Curry, Brigitte Falck, and
Randy Bishop enter, wearing the latest fashions of designer Sharon Jetter.
Seated in a conservative corner, Sheila Flower, Rosalind Bjornson, and Laura
Fitzpatrick industriously collect information for their theses on the influence of the
Cave upon its middle-aged patrons.”


East Orange during its first 100 years, 1863 to 1963, with some emphasis on Stockton School and its surrounding neighborhoods. “Happiness isn’t something you experience; it’s something you remember.” Oscar Levant



"The real story is Bob came to East Orange every weekend for 4 or 5 months. 
He got paid in money, not much, but money. There was a lot of chess playing going on.
l Bob was loved and his music was greatly admired and appreciated. 
I met Bob at the Gerde's Folk City hootenanny on a Monday night 
and asked him to play for our coffee house in East Orange,the Cave. 
He did. I think it was 1959 or the beginning of 1960."
From Keith, 2009


Bob Dylan at Lone Star Cafe 10 Photos (February 16 – 1983 and 29 May 1988)

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