e American Pie Website

Dear Saul,

Don McLean came into my Folklore Center from time to time like everybody else, to chat, look at the latest magazines and so on.  It was around 1972 and I was having bad problems with money and getting ready to move to Sweden, and Don, one day, said that he would gladly do a concert for me, which made me very happy, and he would get half the gate, as everyone else did, and no guarantee.

I did some 700 or 800 concerts, all without a contract. People would call, Izzy I'll be in NYC in two weeks can you do a concert at the store, and I did, and, of course, they would get more than people usually got at the expensive coffee houses around, and I had nothing to sell in the way of drinks, just music, no sound system, no lighting system, and I know that Don got much more for his concerts, so that he was doing it as support for me, in the nicest way possible, and the most wonderful for the public that came, folkies like myself.

The concert took place at the Washington Square Methodist Church where I put on concerts too large for my store, and I had a little sound system, with Don Wade, who took maybe 25 bucks a night, for him and all the equipment, and our agreement was not to make the sound more than 10% stronger, so that people still had to listen, rather than get the music shoved into their ears.

Over 400 people came, and the Church was dangerously overcrowded and I sat at the entrance selling tickets, praying that there wouldn't be a famous fire and catastrophe that night. The larger concerts would be between 100 and 250 tickets sold. So the night started off wonderfully and I couldn't really listen as I was outside the door, making sure that nothing would happen to disturb the concert, and I was happy with all the aplause, and he played a long time, and no drinks, no bar, no nothing, just happy people listening to a happy performer and, of course, where everyone knew everyone else and everyone knew Don from other concerts and he knew lots of people, and that is not the situation today, as we both know.

The concert is ending and I hear a huge sound of cheering but I have no idea what or why. Don soon comes outside and I am to pay him half, as usual. He is smiling, smiling. I took in 840 dollars, so I said to myself, that I'll give him 400 instead of 420 dollars and that would make no difference, and make up a little for all the concerts I lost money on. And he started laughing. Izzy I'm giving you all the money! He told the audience that I was getting it all and that's when the spontaneous cheering took place. In retrospect I can say that the cheering was a kind of recognition of all my occasional little tricks of survival - such as the best concert series in NYC, at prices between 1 and 2 bucks - that everyone knew about.

He hails a cab to go home, it is late, and suddenly he returns and says  Izzy, I forgot my wallet, can you lend me ten dollars. I give him some 15 or so one dollar bills out of my bulging pocket. And it was delicious to live like that that evening. Where I am a part of things, mostly quietly in my Folklore Center, getting people together as my calling, I can say now. Always talking, yes, and often writing in a notebook, and people loving my column in Sing Out!, never knowing who I was going to write about or attack or whatever.

So I hope this is enough for you. I have not ever told anyone about the story, nor is it written down, and I am sure that it will be no problem for Don and it won't besmirch my reputation in the slightest. But you can send me a copy of the book, to the address below.
Take care,

Izzy later sent a second email:
Wait! I see that it is a website you're working on. Not kosher! I hate websites as being unreal impersonal and lots of garbage to wade through. I never thought of the sacred store as being mine, but, but, but, Bob Dylan wrote a song in 1962 called Talking Folklore Center, and lots of people have named me in their books and articles. Good luck,

Izzy Young, who still refuses to have a website, but I am slowly acceding to the concept and I'll probably have one going by the time I am 80 in a year and a half.

Izzy Young
Stockholm, Sweden
16th October 2006