I'm working on a book about the so-called "VD Radio Project" of the late `40s and early `50s that included contributions from Merle Travis, Hank Williams Sr., Woody Guthrie, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Roy Acuff among many others.
Although not directly connected to the VD Radio Project, I've been trying to determine the origins of the so-called Woody Guthrie "VD Medley" Dylan played on the `61 Minnesota Tapes. Ramblin' Jack Elliott is quoted in Shelton's "No Direction Home" as saying, "I suppose I taught Bobby a few of my songs. Those old VD songs by Woody that nobody wanted the young kids to know, he picked them up from me...." but I think I've found Dylan himself contradicting that.
Google Books shows a snippet from Carl Benson's "The Bob Dylan Companion" which reads...
"...Jack doesn't know that many songs. He's had a lot of chances ["oh callow youth" - interjection from Fred]. I went out to the Gleasons in New Jersey and stayed out there for a while in East Orange. They have a lot of [Woody] Guthrie tapes -- his VD songs. Learned a bunch of those, sung them to Woody."http://books.google.com/books?id=40GzAA ... rch_anchor
I'm assuming that's from one of the letters Dylan sent home during that period, but can't tell for sure since Google will only display the snippet. Before I go to the expense of purchasing a copy of "The Companion," I was wondering if anyone who owns it might verify the passage. It's on Page 5. Is it a quote from a Dylan letter?
I think the tape Dylan refers to is possibly something now residing in the Guthrie archives in Mt. Kisco, NY, which I'm hoping to visit this Summer. The tape, from 1949, is labeled in Woody's hand, "VD Songs" and probably contains the VD medley Dylan learned. On the other hand, Guthrie wrote several VD songs during this period, including, "A Child of VD," and the songs used in "The Lonesome Traveler" in the VD Radio Project. The VD medley itself, (VD Waltz, VD Blues, VD City and VD Gunner's Blues) appear to have been composed by Guthrie over a five year period, from 1945 through `49.
While the subject is probably of limited appeal.
If anyone has any more information about the VD medley, or can quote the source of the passage from "The Bob Dylan Companion," I'd greatly appreciate it.