I have just received the seven-track CD of the “Bob Dylan in Concert Brandeis University 1963.” On the backside of the CD it allegedly reproduces a ticket stub at the weekend folk festival in Waltham, Massachusetts. I don’t know if this were a reproduction of an actual ticket or a caricature. In any event it contains an egregious error for a concert: The wrong day of the week!
May 10th, 1963
The reason I caught the error that May 10, 1963 was a Friday not a Saturday, is the rapid sequence of impending censorship. Dylan’s third track, on this magnificent concert and CD, was “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues” which is actually closer to the print original in Bob Dylan Lyrics than the version on The Bootleg Series, Vols 1-3. On Sunday May 12, 1963 Dylan had scheduled a coveted gig on the Ed Sullivan Show but at the last moment was not permitted to perform the song. (The iconic Beatles’s appearance would occur the following February, 1964). CBS censor Stowe Phelps warned it was too critical of the far-right wing John Birch Society and that CBS would be vulnerable to defamation and libel litigation. The crazed censor thought Dylan compared the Birchers to the American nazi, George Lincoln Rockwell. How that is derived from the lyrics is ludicrous despite the reference to Mr Rockwell. The reference is actully about the movie, Exodus; there is no reference to the Birchers in that verse. See below.
Dylan appeared at Brandeis two days before the New York-based Ed Sullivan Show on FRIDAY May 10, 1963. I believe it was his last live performance before his scheduled appearance on CBS. With egregious cowardice, CBS told the Minnesota native he could choose another song. Dylan stated he had rehearsed the disputed song the afternoon of the show. “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues” was approved by Ed Sullivan and Dylan told Mr Phelps to allow the song or he would not perform. Resisting the latest version of McCarthyism, he courageously gave up a major gig. Either the newly released CD is a bumbling fake reproduction of a concert-ticket stub or the ticket was incorrectly printed in 1963. Dylan sang at Brandeis on a Friday. He sang two sets interrupted by an intermission. They moved part of the audience between the two sets and altered a curtain to improve the acoustics. I highlighted the offending verse that sarcastically praised Mr Rockwell as an anti-communist: the litmus test of loyalty in Cold War America:
Well, I was feelin’ sad and feelin’ blue
I didn’t know what in the world I wus gonna do
Them Communists they wus comin’ around
They wus in the air
They wus on the ground
They wouldn’t gimme no peace . . .
So I run down most hurriedly
And joined up with the John Birch Society
I got me a secret membership card
And started off a-walkin’ down the road
Yee-hoo, I’m a real John Bircher now!
Look out you Commies!
Now we all agree with Hitler’s views
Although he killed six million Jews
It don’t matter too much that he was a Fascist
At least you can’t say he was a Communist!
That’s to say like if you got a cold you take a shot of malaria
Well, I wus lookin’ everywhere for them gol-darned Reds
I got up in the mornin’ ’n’ looked under my bed
Looked in the sink, behind the door
Looked in the glove compartment of my car
Couldn’t find ’em . . .
I wus lookin’ high an’ low for them Reds everywhere
I wus lookin’ in the sink an’ underneath the chair
I looked way up my chimney hole
I even looked deep down inside my toilet bowl
They got away . . .
Well, I wus sittin’ home alone an’ started to sweat
Figured they wus in my T.V. set
Peeked behind the picture frame
Got a shock from my feet, hittin’ right up in the brain
Them Reds caused it!
I know they did . . . them hard-core ones
Well, I quit my job so I could work all alone
Then I changed my name to Sherlock Holmes
Followed some clues from my detective bag
And discovered they wus red stripes on the American flag!
That ol’ Betsy Ross . . .
Well, I investigated all the books in the library
Ninety percent of ’em gotta be burned away
I investigated all the people that I knowed
Ninety-eight percent of them gotta go
The other two percent are fellow Birchers . . . just like me
Now Eisenhower, he’s a Russian spy
Lincoln, Jefferson and that Roosevelt guy
To my knowledge there’s just one man
That’s really a true American: George Lincoln Rockwell
I know for a fact he hates Commies cus he picketed the movie Exodus
Well, I fin’ly started thinkin’ straight
When I run outa things to investigate
Couldn’t imagine doin’ anything else
So now I’m sittin’ home investigatin’ myself!
Hope I don’t find out anything . . . hmm, great God!
Copyright © 1970 by Special Rider Music; renewed 1998 by Special Rider Music