Come you ladies and you gentlemen, a-listen to my songThe other night I fulfilled a long-standing dream of treading the boards at the legendary Gaslight Café in Greenwich Village, now known as 116 MacDougal St. During its heyday from 1958-1971, the Gaslight hosted the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Mississippi John Hurt, and was "overrun by every guitar-picker who had ever migrated to Greenwich Village," according to the late Al Aronowitz.
Sing it to you right, but you might think it's wrong
Just a little glimpse of a story I'll tell
"Bout an East Coast city that you all know well... ~ Hard Times in New York Town
This time it was all about the inspired word - sans guitar. I signed up for a full evening of poetry and panic bliss and had a blast. The room is literally underground, beneath MacDougal, and is easily missed if you're not looking for it.
I first heard of the Gaslight when I came across a three-record box set of Dylan's Gaslight Tapes on sale at Track Records on Seymour St. in Vancouver in 1987, just before my first busking trip across Europe.
It's a fantastic album, full of classic folk standards, audience murmers and the odd clinking glass. I knew it was only a matter of time before I'd discover the remarkable room in a New York City village that conjured both Jimmy Dean and the Child Ballads...