David Blue – An "oral" biography.

Waiting for a thorough article about David Blue to appear, I have put together this little mosaic of quotes about him. I hope that somebody out there will help me flesh it out with newspaper clippings, memories and opinions.

Born Stuart David Cohen, 18 Feb.1941, Pawtucket RI.

Joined the US Navy in 1958, but soon went to New York and became part of the Greenwich Village folk scene. Initially he wanted to work as an actor but, influenced by Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan, he started putting his poetry to music. Soon he was performing his songs on the coffehouse circuit:

______________________

"I recall hearing him perform under the name David Cohen at the Interlude in Kew Gardens, Queens, NY, around 1963 or 1964. That's about the same time Pat Sky and Michael Cooney were hanging out there. So was Al Kuda, later known as Al Kooper when he backed up Dylan or when he played with Blood, Sweat, and Tears. David's best song was then and still is "I Like to Sleep Late in the Morning."

(Steve Suffet in an e-mail to rec.music.folk)

______________________

"At the beginning, no one in the "in'' crowd liked David, except for Phil Ochs. Phil thought he was a tremendous performer and songwriter. Later on, people started coming around to his music. David's music was all romantic. Phil's was all political. In fact, David. Phil and Dylan were an interesting threesome when it came to writing about women. David would write about women who most people didn't know - the exotics; Dylan wrote about the universals; and Phil didn't write about them at all …"

Marc Elliot
(quoted in “Hoot! A 25-Year History of the Greenwich Village Music Scene.”by Robbie Wolliver ( St. Martin's Press, 1986)

______________________

David’s first appearance on record was on the Elektra LP “The Singer / Songwriter Project” where he performed three songs under the name David Cohen. Around the same time he appeared as one of the Broadside Singers on "Broadside Ballads, Vol.3"

______________________


“David Cohen originally hails from Rhode Island, but has travelled this country many times. These days, he commutes between New York and Boston. His most important influence, musically, has been Luke Faust, an outstanding although little-known interpreter of traditional music.”

Josh Dunson in the original liner notes to “The Singer / Songwriter Project”.



______________________


"David was a talented, tortured soul. Like other poets of the time, he had the misfortune of being viewed with suspicion by those who thought Dylan was the fountainhead of all deep lyric of the period. David always said he was a poet, not a singer. His first albums for Elektra were produced by Gorson, who couldn't, and engineered by Bill Szymczyk, who couldn't yet. At least Szymczyk learned while he earned, and had become proficient by the time he worked on Jim & Jean's first album. Anyway, I have always appreciated David's work, even "Justine" and "The Gasman......". I agree that "I Like To Sleep Late in The Morning" was/is a classic, but my favorite was always "The Grand Hotel", especially as covered by Jim and Jean Glover. It became obvious that the life of S. David Cohen, was spiraling out of control when it was announced that he was the new head of promotion for Asylum Records. Not long after, he was gone."

Bill Ashford in an e-mail to rec. music. folk

______________________


In December of '65, I went to a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York called "Sing Out! for Peace," sponsored in part (if my memory serves) by the folk song magazine Sing Out! This wasn't long after Dylan went electric and the repercussions were still being felt. The show cost a dollar and went on all night. Every folksinger at the time was there and those who weren't (Joan Baez, Jack Elliott for instance) sent telegrams of support. One after another, they followed each other on stage for one song. It was the one time I saw Mimi & Richard Farina. I was 14, and sitting with friends in one of Carnegie's many balconies, probably the highest one. Somewhere around 3 or 4 in the morning, a guy comes out on stage with a harmonica holder around his neck, wearing a suede jacket and blue jeans (which was how Dylan dressed in concert during the folkie days) with very long curly hair. The audience let out a collective gasp, even though serious Dylan fans knew he didn't dress like that any more. Dylan's name was not among the telegraphs of support announcements. Could it be? The singer moved towards the microphone. "My name is David Blue," he said.

Peter Stone Brown in an e-mail to the web-master

______________________


“I remember seeing David at the Gaslight on Macdougal in 1964-5. He had his problems with Dylan. Bob treated him very poorly. He was not as approachable as the other guys ( Ochs, Gil Turner, Freddy Neil, Happy and Artie ). One was almost afraid of him.”

The signature “Bruce” in an e-mail to rec. music. folk

______________________


Although I had heard some of his earlier recordings, I first saw David Blue play in approx. 1966-1967 when he was performing with a band he called "David Blue and The American Patrol". I saw him playing primarily at The Bitter End but they were also playing in various clubs around Greenwich Village. The American Patrol's sound was a bit tougher than Blue's solo Elektra album and we all thought they was very, very good at that time. He had some talented musicians playing with him, esp. the guitarist, although I can't remember his name. Unfortunately the American Patrol project was short lived. I don't believe they ever recorded but I would love to be wrong about that.

Kenny Schachat in an e-mail to the webmaster

______________________


Davids first album was released under the name “David Blue”; a nick-name given him by Bob Dylan. This record was musically very influenced by Dylan’s “Bringin’ it all back home”.

David’s next album, "These 23 Days in September", shows him emerging as a distinctive voice. The Dylan influence is gone, replaced by an understated style all his own. Commercially neither this album or the follow-up, “Me”, issued under his real name, was a success, but they are both low-key masterpieces of the singer/songwriter genre.


Above: Promo material from Asylum.

In 1970 David Blue got a contract with Asylum records and issued what many people regard as his masterpiece: "Stories", a collection of bleak, introspective vignettes.

"Nice Baby & the Angel" was another, more upbeat, masterpiece. It was followed by two, more uneven, albums: “Comin’ Back for More” and “Cupid’s Arrow”.

______________________



David Blue also took part in Bob Dylan's “The Rolling Thunder Review”:


“David Blue keeps showing up at different places on the tour. He flies in from his own tour schedule in the South whenever he gets a break. Blue gangster suit, bleary eyed, hoarse throat, wrinkled scarf, he always gives he impression he's trying to repair his health but never quite gets on top. He runs a stream of words at us over breakfast. "Yeah, the groupies always get heavier at it than you. They cop your style then turn it around on you. Hey, you know Dylan's wife Sara is gonna show up in Niagara. You wanna see a heavy chick? Just wait until her and Joni Mitchell get around each other. You'll get some shit on camera then, I can guarantee it. Sara's a very regal, powerful chick, and Joni's gettin' into her empress bag now. I mean Joni's a real queen now. She's really gettin' up there. You just wait until they get in front of the camera." It turns out they never will. At least not when I was around. At one point there was talk of them doing some kind of Greek Siren scene with the men groveling at their feet, but that never panned out. Somewhere along the line they turned into hookers in front of the camera, along with Joan Baez. I don't know how that happened."

Sam Shepard in: Rolling Thunder Logbook (NY: Viking Press, 1977)

______________________



Above: Eric Andersen (left) & David 1967.

" Joni Mitchell had taken care of David for years. She told me once that she was going over her books, and there were more checks made out to David than there were to the phone company. Once he called her because he was desperate for money, he was being thrown out of his apartment. So she got the money to him. The next day, just by chance, she runs into David on the street in the Village and he's standing there with two dozen roses. He had taken the money and bought the roses for his new girlfriend. Joni understandably flipped out and David typically remarked back to her, "Come on, Joni, why do you have to be such a bitch?"

Eric Andersen (quoted in “Hoot! A 25-Year History of the Greenwich Village Music Scene.”by Robbie Wolliver ( St. Martin's Press, 1986)

______________________

In the late seventies David Blue recorded an unissued album for Warner Brothers and concentrated on his acting and writing career:

______________________


“I got to know David Blue (real name: S. David Cohen) when he spent a year or so living in Montreal in the late-1970s. He came here to play the "Leonard" character in a stage show based on excerpts from the songs, poetry and novels of Leonard Cohen. David was in awe of Leonard and, I believe, they were friends. They were not related. David always struck me as being quite bitter that he had not achieved the fame of some of his friends and acquaintances like Dylan, Cohen, Joni Mitchell, etc.”

Mike Regenstreif in an e-mail to rec.music.folk

______________________


David Blue was working on another album when he died of heart attack while jogging in Washington Square Park on December 2, 1982.