Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Every time I read something about very valuable “Freewheelin' Bob Dylan,” it seems the focus of the four controversial tracks is the one about the John Birch Society.

Once and for all I'd like to know if it is just that song that brought about the recall, or all of the four.

I would also like to know the names of the four replacement tracks.

Lastly, has anyone learned the identity of the lady pictured on the front cover, walking alongside Bob Dylan? She is not mentioned anywhere on the original cover.
—Cedric Dudley, Chicago

DEAR CEDRIC: First, here are the specific changes made on each side of the disc.

Side One: “Rocks and Gravel” and “Let Me Die in My Footsteps” are replaced with “Girl from the North Country” and “Masters of War.”

Side Two: “Gamblin' Willie's Dead Man's Hand” and “Talkin' John Birch Society Blues” are replaced with “Bob Dylan's Dream” and “Talking World War III Blues.”

The controversy surrounded “Talkin' John Birch Society Blues,” regarded by some in the media as somewhat inflammatory and, worse yet from Columbia's standpoint, potentially libelous.

Rather than deal with bitching Birchers, Columbia asked Dylan to replace that one track.

Bob opted instead to remove four songs, the other three being ones he simply preferred less than his replacement choices.

That cover scene, shot in New York City on Jones Street, between Bleeker and West 4th, pictures 21-year-old Dylan and his live-in lady friend, Suze Rotolo.

No doubt they picked the location because of its proximity to where Dylan lived at the time, at 161 West 4th Street, between Cornelia and Jones.

But, as Mr. Dylan once sang, “The Times They Are a-Changin'.”

Many buildings in that section of the West Village, including the one at Bob's old address, are now occupied by purveyors of exotic adult novelties.

DEAR JERRY: A few weeks after Johnny Ace killed himself playing Russian Roulette, a woman had a hit with a blues song titled “Johnny's Gone.”

Who is that singer, and was it the first Johnny Ace tribute issued?
—Erica Krill, Sheboygan, Wisc.

DEAR ERICA: The meaning is the same, but the exact title is “Johnny Has Gone.”

By Varetta Dillard, this Top 10 single (Savoy 1153), sung to accompaniment similar to “Pledging My Love,” includes references to several Johnny Ace hits: “My Song;” “Pledging My Love;” “The Clock;” “Cross My Heart;” “Never Let Me Go;”

Dillard's outsold the other Johnny Ace tributes but it is neither the first nor the second one released.

First came the two-sided tribute: “Johnny Ace's Last Letter,” by Frankie Irwin, backed with “Why, Johnny, Why,” by Linda Hayes with Johnny Moore's Blazers (Hollywood 1031).

A few days later, Aladdin Records arranged for Johnny Fuller to cover “Johnny Ace's Last Letter” (Aladdin 3278).

Besides these Johnny Ace tributes, two others on the market then are “Johnny's Still Singing” (Five Wings) (King 4778) and “In Memory (A Tribute to Johnny Ace)” (Marie Adams and the Johnny Otis Orchestra) (Peacock 1649). The later is to the tune of “The Clock,” and also mentions his other hits.

IZ ZAT SO? Wondering if your vinyl copy of “The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan” is one of those valuable first pressings?

Regardless of what is printed on the cover and labels, you must play the disc to be sure!

If what you hear matches the tracks listed above, you've probably struck it rich. A near-mint first issue can increase your new worth by at least $10,000.

Second pressings, all of which have the four replacement tracks, are valued at $20 to $30.

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