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.
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
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