I wanted to excerpt a piece from this week’s New Yorker about longtime radical radio host Bob Fass, but the article isn’t online. However, the magazine’s website has something even better to offer: Two long, downloadable clips from the show, including a rambling 93-minute, 1966 interview with Bob Dylan.
(*Update, 3/11/07. Looks like the links were taken down. Oh well.) (*Corrected update, 3/12/07: They’ve just been moved to here. I’ve fixed the first link. Thanks, Steve.)
On the Dylan Timeline, 1966 is the year he released “Blonde on Blonde” and toured with members of The Band. I use the term “interview” very loosely; it’ s more like a visit, although they do take calls from listeners. I haven’t had time to listen to all the Dylan clip, but early on, he talks about meeting Liberace, expresses amazement that Lightnin’ Hopkins actually recorded a song called “I Wish I Was a Baby,” and feigns anger when a caller won’t recognize him as an “ethnic folksinger.”
For those who hadn’t heard of him, Bob Fass went to work for NYC’s Pacifica station WBAI in the early 1960s, getting assigned the overnight beat. He turned it into “Radio Unnamable,” which became a nightly free-form platform for alternative politics, underground music, police brutality reports, marijuana and on-air psychotherapy. He’s been on and off the air ever since, rising and falling based on the station’s mercurial politics. At 73, he now appears Thursday nights. According to Fisher, the other nights, Fass cruises around the city in a beat-up Chrysler, “imagining the show he might be doing.”
Over the years, Fass’ regular guests included Abbie Hoffman, who came up with the term “Yippie” while listening to a 1967 New Year’s Eve show in which Fass wondered aloud how to radicalize dope-smoking hippies, and then called to show to share his brainstorm with Fass’ listeners. Years later, Hoffman broadcast his vasectomy live on Fass’ show.
If you want to read the whole thing, find the New Yorker with a cartoon of a piano lesson on the cover. The issue is dated December 4, 2006.