Cynthia Gooding, a traditional folk singer, is best known for her time as a presenter on WBAI radio, hosting two shows, “Cynthia and Sensible” and “Folksinger’s Choice”, on which she interviewed Bob Dylan in 1962.
Gooding was the ideal person to put the often reticent Bob Dylan at ease. She was a willing listener and was able to engage Dylan through her considerable knowledge of folk music. She had met Dylan on several occasions previously, going back to 1959 when he attended a party after one of Gooding’s Minneapolis gigs. As often happened at these get-togethers, a guitar was passed around and Gooding was apparently suitably impressed and charmed by young Mr Dylan’s performance.
Although Gooding says in her Folksinger’s Choice interview that Dylan “is one of the quickest rises in folk music”, at the time this show was broadcast, probably on March 11, 1962, Dylan was still pretty much an unknown. His first album had not yet been released and he had only just begun writing his own songs. Also, Dylan was still reinventing his own fanciful past. A past that would supposedly include skipping school and working in a carnival for about six years when in actual fact, Dylan graduated from Hibbing High in June 1959 and, if he did work in a carnival at all, which is highly unlikely, it would have been more like six days than six years! However, far from spoiling the show, these tall tales only go to enhance one of the best early recordings we have of Bob Dylan.
The show, which is interspersed with chat between Gooding and Dylan, futures 11 songs, three of them newly minted early Dylan originals. Folksinger’s Choice contains the only known Dylan performances of ‘Smokestack Lightning’, ‘Hard Travelin’’ and ‘Roll On, John’ and features the first known outings of ‘The Death Of Emmett Till’ and ‘Standing On The Highway’. ‘Folksinger’s Choice’ is therefore an incredibly important early document.
1. (I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle (Hank Williams / Jimmy Davies)
2. Fixin’ To Die (Bukka White)
3. Smokestack Lightning (Burnett)
4. Hard Travelin’ (Woody Guthrie)
5. The Death Of Emmett Till (Dylan)
6. Standing On The Highway (Dylan)
7. Roll On, John (trad., arr. Bob Dylan)
8. Stealin’, Stealin’ (trad., arr. Memphis Jug Band)
9. Makes a Long Time Man Feel Bad (trad.)
10. Baby Please Don’t Go (Big Joe Williams)
11. Hard Times In New York Town (Dylan)