Saturday, September 29, 2018

How Hip Capitalist Multi-Millionaire Musician Dylan Obtained Melody For "The Ballad of Emmett Till" Protest Folk Song

Over 56 years ago a now-longtime hip capitalist multi-millionaire musician, whose stage name was Bob Dylan, wrote the lyrics to a protest folk song about the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi on August 28, 1955, titled "The Ballad of Emmett Till."

But the melody for "The Ballad of Emmett Till" was apparently created not by Dylan, but by an early 1960s African-American protest folk songwriter and protest folk singer named Len Chandler.

In a February 1, 1962 entry contained in Izzy Young's Notebook that appeared in the Chicago Review Press's 2018 book that Jeff Burger edited, titled Dylan On Dylan: Interviews and Encounters, the then-nearly 21 year-old Dylan is quoted as saying the following:

"Wrote a song the other night Ballad of Emmett Till. After I wrote it someone said another song was written but not like it. I wrote it for CORE--I'm playing it February 23 [1962]. I think it's the best thing I've written. Only song I play with a capo. Stole the melody from Len Chandler--a song he wrote about a Colorado bus driver...Getting some money from Columbia. I'm supposed to be making all kinds of money, I seem...I'm sort of disconnecting myself from the folk music scene..."

And in the text of a March 1962 interview with Cynthia Gooding, that the Pacifica Foundation's listener-sponsored WBAI radio station in New York City aired, which also was included in the 2018 Dylan On Dylan book which Jeff Burger edited, the then-nearly 21 year-old Dylan is quoted as saying the following:

"Well, I just wrote songs...You wanna hear one?...Well, let me see. What kind do you wanna hear? I got a new one I wrote...Yeah, I got a new one. This one's called `Emmett Till.' Oh, by the way, I stole the melody from Len Chandler. And he's a funny guy. He's a folksinger guy. He uses a lot of funny chords when he plays and he always wants me to use some of these chords, trying to teach the new chords all the time. Well, he played me this one. He said, `Don't those chords sound nice??' And I said. `They sure do.' So I stole the whole thing...Yeah...Melody's his...Wait till Chandler hears the melody, though..."