Bob Dylan Can’t Get In the Door

Excerpted from Jim Rooney’s book In It for the Long Run.

Occasionally we would make a weekend trip to New York to hang out with all the pickers down there. On arrival we would inevitably head for Izzy Young’s Folklore Center on Bleeker Street. Izzy was one of those larger-than-life people—full of energy, absolutely committed to folk music as a force for social change. The front of the store had records, songbooks, and instruction books. Izzy had a cramped, crowded office at the back where he would hold court with anyone who happened to come in.

Bill and I quickly figured out that if we hung around Izzy’s long enough someone we knew—or wanted to know—would come in, and one thing would lead to another. One day there was this kid in the back hunched over Izzy’s typewriter, typing furiously. Eventually he took a break, and Izzy introduced me to Bob Dylan. After a while we made our way to a bar called The Dugout, next to The Bitter End, which was the most “professional” folk club in the Village. Bob and I hit it off. Over a few beers we discovered a mutual love for Hank Williams. Theo Bikel was running a hootenanny next door, so we decided to go in and sign up. We were told that the list was full, so we just found a place in the hallway leading back to the kitchen and sang some Hank Williams songs to each other. Probably one of the last times Bob couldn’t get in a door!