Friday, December 5, 2008

Hear Richard on Dave Marsh's KICK OUT THE JAMS radio show on XM 50 The Loft this Sunday, December 7th

I'll be discussing my new book, WORLDS OF SOUND, with rock critic/radio personality Dave Marsh this Sunday, December 7th, from about 10:30 to 11 AM on his satellite radio show, KICK OUT THE JAMS, broadcast on XM 50 "The Loft" and Sirius Satelitte Radio. Hope you'll listen in!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Another Washington, DC, signing!


I'll be signing copies of my new book, WORLDS OF SOUND: THE STORY OF SMITHSONIAN/FOLKWAYS, at the grand reopening of the National Museum of American History, on Friday, November 21st, between 2 and 4 PM.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More Radio Shows!

Here's links to a few more radio shows that feature me talking about my new book, WORLDS OF SOUND. Happy listening.

Tapestry of the Times:
Talk of the Nation:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Richard Talks It Up on WNYC's Sound Check

Hear a fascinating conversation about "Is folk music dead?" (and why is that skinny, long haired guitarist looking so gaunt??) on WNYC's Sound Check featuring me along with New Yorker contributor Burkhard Bilger.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

THIS SATURDAY NOVEMBER 1st! Signing/reading/Mariachi concert at Politics and Prose, Washington, DC,. for WORLDS OF SOUND

I'll be signing copies of my new book, WORLDS OF SOUND, at Politcs & Prose bookstore in Washington, DC, on Saturday, November 1st from 3 to 4 PM.

Read more:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More on Moe: Preview from WORLDS OF SOUND

Moses Asch, pictured at the controls of Cue Studios in the late '50s, believed that all sounds should be available to everyone. Today, when the music labels are busily battling against "piracy," it's interesting to remember that the problem of "who owns" sound recordings has been around as long as recording themselves. Do the major labels have the right to control recordings, even those that they themselves have allowed to go out of print? Moses Asch was a champion of the people's right to know, including an artist's right to have his recordings available even when they were not commercially successful. In my new book, WORLDS OF SOUND: THE STORY OF SMITHSONIAN FOLKWAYS, I tell how Moe reissued Woody Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads at Guthrie's request because RCA had put the records out of print. Over a decade later, RCA threatened to sue Asch over this "infringement." Here's more from the book:

Photo (c) David Gahr

Asch’s attitude toward the big labels crystallized early on when Woody Guthrie complained to him that RCA had withdraw his Dust Bowl Ballads album due to poor sales. Even though the label was no longer selling the recordings, they insisted they still held the rights, and wouldn’t either issue the records or give the rights back to Guthrie. Asch simply took the matter into his own hands, reissuing the recordings himself, challenging Victor to respond.

Victor eventually responded, when the folk revival suddenly made reissuing Guthrie’s original recordings commercially viable. In 1964, Victor wrote to Asch challenging his reissue of the Dust Bowl Ballads 78s, which Asch had recently converted from the original 10 inch album (issued with Guthrie’s blessings in 1950) to a full-size LP. Asch typically replied to Victor that he had every right to issue the material, having Guthrie’s approval—in fact Guthrie had pleaded with him to make the recordings available. Further, he had bought the original records on the open market and—once RCA declared them out of print—felt that they were fair game for reissue. Asch goes on to tell how Guthrie had approached RCA twice, in 1948 and 1950, and the label had declined to reissue the recordings on both occasions. Asch closed his letter explaining his belief that:

cultural property belongs to all and is limited to individual ownership only in so far as the copyright of the material is subjected to and limited to. Since records do not carry this copyright and since Folkways is in a unique position regarding the above, I cannot see what RCA can do about this, except to make a nuisance of it. I have patience and fortitude.

Indeed, Asch did have "patience and fortitude." Rather than fight with him, RCA simply reissued the Dust Bowl Ballads on its own label, adding tow previously unissued masters to its LP. Asch could hardly complain.

For Asch the right of “the people” to have access to recordings like Guthrie’s was greater than corporate ownership rights. During the early ‘50s, when he reissued Guthrie, the Jazz series, and the Anthology, the major labels showed little or no interest in their back catalog. Soon, specialty labels like Riverside (originally started to reissue early jazz recordings), Origin Jazz Library and Yazoo (blues reissues), and County (old time country music) would rise to carry forward this mission.

Asch was correct that copyright didn’t apply to sound recordings; the law was not updated until 1978, so that technically all records made before that date were “public domain.” However Asch went further than merely copyright law, basing his philosophy on the Constitution, where he found that the people were given “the right to know” that superseded copyright:

The Constitution of the United States was to me a very basic document. When World War II began there was a shortage of metals, copper and shellac, so the big companies broke up the masters . . . of Bessie Smith and all the other early recordings. They all disappeared . . . I started to realize here the Constitution was saying “dissemination”—the right to know is a right of the people, and there the record company wasn’t caring whether people have that right or not. They were destroying property which they claimed was their own. I always claimed what they were destroying was the culture, so I started to reissue some of the records which I thought ought to be preserved.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Here's a way to hear the WORLDS OF SOUND interview without having to listen to the whole program -- Download this to your MP3 player and jog to the rhythms of the tree frogs and the words of your genial author, RC.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

CBS World News Roundup Feature on Worlds of Sound

Here me speak!! Amaze your ears! You can hear a brief piece on my new book, Worlds of Sound, on this week's CBS WORLD NEWS ROUNDUP. The interview comes about 32 minutes into the show.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Richard on the Radio: Forthcoming Interviews

Hey! Want to hear me talk about my new book, WORLDS OF SOUND. You're in luck, I'll be speaking on a number of radio shows, most available for podcasting over the Web. Here's the list so far:

Scheduled Programs:

· Week of October 10 Sam Litzinger, CBS News Weekend Roundup (broadcast nationally throughout the week on different CBS affiliates)
· October 14, 7-9 PM Lilli Kuzma, Folk Festival, WDCB Public Radio, Chicago
· October 16, 4:30 PM (MST) Jerry Puffer, KSEN-AM Radio, Montana
· October 29, 11 AM David Dye, World Café, WXPN Philadelphia (and NPR nationally)
· November 3, 2 PM John Schaefer, Sound Check, WNYC FM, NY
· Dec. 7th, 10 AM Dave Marsh, Kick Out the Jams, Sirius Satellite Radio

Broadcast Dates to Be Announced:

· Aaron Heinken, Tapestry of the Times, Baltimore (WYPR), WGBH (Boston), and other NPR stations. Taping November 1st
· Neal Conan, Talk of the Nation, NPR. Taping October 30th.
· Sam Litzinger and Jeff Place, Sound Sessions with Smithsonian Folkways, WAMU, Washington, DC, already recorded

Tell your friends!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Hi Everyone:

Smithsonian/Folkways has launched its own WORLDS OF SOUND webpage to accompany my new book, WORLDS OF SOUND: THE STORY OF SMITHSONIAN/FOLKWAYS. It's just in its beginning stages, but soon it will feature full notes for the book, interview transcripts, additional photos and illustrations, audio clips, and lots more! Plus, if you order YOUR COPY of the book directly from Smithsonian/Folkways, they'll throw in a FREE SAMPLER CD that features never-before-released archival material along with samples from the many collectors profiled in the book.

So, why not visit the new site:

Have fun!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Upcoming Book Signings

Richard Carlin will be speaking about WORLDS OF SOUND and signing copies of his new book throughout this fall. The first confirmed dates are:
18 October: Chicago, IL Old Town School of Folk Music 6:30 PM
1 November. Washington, DC Politics & Prose Bookstore 3:00 PM
15 November Montclair, NJ Wachung Booksellers 1:00 PM

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Yours Merrily, George Young

Among concertina history enthusiasts and post card collectors (admittedly a group slightly smaller than your local branch of the Star Trek fan club), many images pose mysteries that are seemingly unsolvable. In most cases, photos of proud concertinists displaying their instruments or proclaiming their virtuosity go unidentified -- who is that Salvationist? Why did he go to the trouble of having a postcard printed with his image emblazoned on it?
None is more mysterious than the ever-merry George Young, a blind concertinist apparently from the North of England. Young was certainly industrious: there are at least 4 different postcard images of him that were printed, and they must have been printed in good quantities as they turn up more regularly than photo cards of star performers like Alexander Prince. Usually portrayed holding his top-of-the-line Lachenal Edeophone -- that strange 12-sided concertina that has been described as the closest thing to a square circle -- Young's card always feature his trademark greeting, "Yours merrily, George Young."
Despite the profusion of cards, no one has been able to trace a newspaper notice marking a performance by Young, nor is there any sheet music, phonograph recordings, poster or handbill that has survived attesting to his popularity. Maybe he just played for local events or had a relative in the postcard printing business who gave him good rates on cards.
Despite his apparent lack of acclaim, he left his mark, merrily, on many lives who kept his cards as some kind of cherished memorial to a bygone recital, where the blind concertina player amazed with his repertory of the latest popular melodies. Or so we must imagine.
And think also of the countless other George Youngs who played in anonymity, self-proclaimed master entertainers, whose worlds probably extended just a few kilometers from home.
And still stubbornly he remains: Merrily yours, George Young. World's most pictured unknown concertina player. If nothing else, a tireless self-promoter. Long may his fame resound.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


If you'd like, you can preorder my new book by following this link to Amazon:

You'll also save a bunch off the list price!

Tell your friends and family . . .

Monday, August 4, 2008

Morris Dancers or Minstrel Show?

The influence of American minstrel shows on British music has been well documented. Early performers like Joel Walker Sweeney and Dam Emmett toured England to great acclaim, introducing the banjo and blackface humor to British audiences and inspiring homegrown performers to adapt the style. (See my brother's biography of Joel Walker Sweeney publsihed by McFarland as just one of many sources.)

This image, found by my friend Perry Werner, speaks to the influence of blackface and banjos but also to older British entertainments, specifically the Morris Dance and short plays associated with it. In fact, the motley crew here seems to borrow from many different traditions: the clown like figure on the far left playing the fiddle joined with the blackface banjo players, suggesting a circus connection (initially, some blackface banjo players in the US performed as part of traveling circuses, so perhaps the connection is there). On the other hand, the well-dressed bones player (in the rear center) and the top-hatted fiddler on the right seem to be parodies of British upper-crust performers.

Exactly what the occasion was for this photo -- whether this was a regular traveling performing troupe or a one-time gathering perhaps for a local village fundraiser or fair -- is unknown. (At least by me -- anyone out there with thoughts about who these folks might be, please post!) This kind of cross-fertilization--the crazy quilt of traditions that come together through the imaginations of performers uninhibited by any "rules" that might keep different performance styles apart--is to me the truest expression of what happens in traditional settings. Scholars try to categorize and separate but ordinary folks just perform for the fun of it -- and draw on whatever inspirations seem right to them.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Advance Praise for WORLDS OF SOUND

I'm thrilled to post these initial comments about my forthcoming book, WORLDS OF SOUND: THE SMITHSONIAN FOLKWAYS STORY. Forgive me for blogging my own horn!!

"Worlds of Sound tells a tale that sings, drums, plays, chirps, rings, trills, and thrums. When I was a boy, I stumbled onto a Folkways record of Pygmy music from Africa, and those voices sang directly into my soul. Folkways Records changed my life. Thank you, Richard Carlin, for telling the Folkways story—one of the most vibrant, exciting tales of all time.”
—Mickey Hart, musician and author

“Worlds of Sound is a monumental study that captures the vision of Moses "Moe" Asch and his lifelong effort to preserve folk music in the 20th century. Asch's unwavering commitment to social justice and his passion for folk music inspired his massive Folkways Recordings, which are a national treasure of recorded sound. Richard Carlin eloquently captures Asch's life and his recordings in a book that features stunning photography and artwork.”
William Ferris, co-editor of Encyclopedia of Southern Culture

“This entertaining romp chronicles how some of the oddest characters in American popular culture — from drugged out record collector Harry Smith to documentarian Studs Turkel — helped Moses “Moe” Asch create a label that is now run by the Smithsonian. Few music histories are as all-encompassing as this one, but whether he’s writing about Bob Dylan or the Carter family, Carlin shows a rare combination of authority and passion that makes any reader want to pull out these dusty recordings and feel their magic once again.”— Charles R. Cross, author of Room Full of Mirrors: The Biography of Jimi Hendrix

"Richard Carlin's Worlds of Sound is an excellent document. So many of the artists featured in this book are familiar to me, and it was a treat to learn their stories through the history of Folkways Records. Carlin really finds the details that make the music come alive—like finding out that Albert Einstein inspired Moses Asch to record all the sounds of the world.”
Roger McGuinn, cofounder and front man, The Byrds

Saturday, June 28, 2008

More About the Fayre Four

Through the article I wrote on the Fayre Four Sisters (posted at, I was fortunate to receive an email from Peter Brown, whose uncle, Sydney, married Tina Webb, the leader/arranger for the great vaudeville concertina group, The Fayre Four Sisters. I'm pleased to post some of Peter's memories here along with a wonderful image--he thinks its the first taken of the full group--from around 1912.
PHOTO: L to r: Sylvia, Inga, Tina, Lillian. Here you see the 2 one-string fiddles that they incorporated in their act.

Here's a part of Peter's email:
This is the 'history' of the group as I recall from talking with Tina & her sisters:

- They first went on the stage in 1912 & were soon a sensation for their beauty & their talent &and the fact that they were 'unusual' being a quartet of 4 young women.

-- they became big stars at the London Palladium & were 'top of the bill' there for many years, I believe into the 1930's.

- the 4 of them went on musical tours throughout the world. The only place that their father forbid them to visit was Russia. He often performed in the Russian State Circus & considered the Country to be 'unsafe' for 4 beautiful spinsters! They were in Vienna when the Russian Revolution took place & told me harrowing stories of meeting bourgeois families fleeing into Europe and exchanging gold, silver & jewellery for food & shelter.

- their musical act involved every sort of concertina, accordions, 2 one-string fiddles & the piano. Their repertoire was mainly popular classical music, but latterly they were involved in big musical shows (Rogers & Hammerstein, Gershuin, etc...) Tina was the one who arranged their music. Lillian looked after their accounts & living expenses,& Inga took charge of bookings & overseas travel, & Sylvia took care of their wardrobe & was responsible for the making of their fabulous costumes.

- Tina was widowed in 1976 (I think!) . Shortly after this Sylvia suffered a stroke whilst on a visit to her, & died in Conwy Hospital. Inga was left alone in the Lambeth house & decided to sell up & move to live with Tina. Tina, Inga & Lillian lived into their 90's. They were indeed secretive about their ages! Inga was the eldest & died well into her 90's.

- Tina's musical ability & memory was extraordinary. Though suffering badly from arthritis in her hands, at 92 she would sit down at the piano & play any of the great piano concertos without any musical score in front of her! Amazing!

- Tina continued to play the piano for the two operatic societies' rehearsals until a dreadful accident when she was 92 yrs old. She was on the stage during a rehearsal, & afterwards, blinded by the footlights, she stepped off the stage onto the steps -- but they had been moved to the other end of the stage. She was lucky not to have been killed, but sustained a bad fracture to one of her ankles. She was a stoic & refused to seek medical attention. I found her in a bad state shortly after & insisted that she went to hospital. She went down-hill rapidly from then and went to live in a rest home where she died after a few months there.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Coming Attractions and Shameless Plugs

My new book, Worlds of Sound: The Story of Smithsonian Folkways, is coming this fall from Smithsonian Books/HarperCollins. It's the story of Moses Asch (see my entry, "Stereo Is A Lie," below) and how he singlehandedly preserved all the sounds of his time . . . and more. Over the coming months, I'll be posting more about Moe and Folkways Records as well as my relationship with him.

Meanwhile, for my concertina friends near and far, I'll be posting some of my history of the English concertina, along with interviews and photos. This will be squeezed out over the coming months. (Sorry for bad concertina humor, but that's all I got left at this time of day.)

So keep watching this space. I promise to have something new and exciting up soon.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Fred W. McDarrah (1926-2007): Let Us Now Praise Grumpy Men

This webblog is turning into a catalog of the grumpiest but most creative folks on the planet – not exactly my goal when I started out, but I guess I’ve worked with a lot of hard-as-nails types—who all turn out to be secret softies. Or at least so I like to remember them.

Nor was it my intention to write about photographers in particular, since most of the people I’ve known are musicians or writers. But still the recent passing of two of New York’s hardest boiled cameramen—David Gahr this year and previously Fred W. McDarrah—has made me realize how important these difficult, endearing men were to me.

Fred was another one of those crusty New Yorkers who scared away the common folk by yelling at them over the phone. His phone was a heavy, black rotary model – a relic of the ‘50s – but only such a well-made machine could take the abuse of Fred’s righteous indignation. He was always angry about some mistreatment – how his work was undervalued; how he had foolishly settled for a lower fee than he deserved; how you needed to go back to your publisher and beg, borrow, or steal the extra bucks that he needed otherwise he couldn’t possibly keep working with you. The higher he held you in esteem, the more he enjoyed spinning your wheels, and every encounter was a death-match test of your ability to recognize his worth.

A little more panache would have landed Fred a higher standing in the world of journalistic photography. He might have even ended up working for a slick magazine, except the idea of photographing to someone else’s agenda would probably have nauseated him. Fred started out selling ads for the Village Voice when it was still a neighborhood news-sheet; he worked his way up to be Photo Editor, which meant he pretty much covered all the angles—from politics and police work to the wondrous strange world of the Village art scene—while also training (in his abusive-but-loving way) a cadre of younger photographers.

I met Fred through the author John Gruen. I had edited collections of Gruen’s dance and art interviews, and he suggested that I might like to reprint his first book, The New Bohemia, which included an ample selection of Fred’s photographs. Gruen was the polar opposite of Fred; his apartment was a carefully presented stage set, with art nouveau wallpaper and velvety chairs. He had a refined sense of being refined, and liked to name drop the various artistic celebrities whom he had profiled and befriended. Fred was a street tough compared to John’s cloistered intellect, and the two would never have worked together except that Fred was assigned to take photos for an article John wrote for the Herald Tribune, on the new artists of the East Village, which became the basis for the book. Fred’s photos were badly cropped in the original, and he was not given equal billing to Gruen, and all these hard feelings had been festering for decades when I sheepishly called him and asked for permission to reprint his work.

After the ritual yelling that was the beginning of any true friendship with Fred, it took months of delicate negotiation to actually get him to participate in the new edition, and I had to show him along the way that I would respect his work and properly present it. Once I had won his trust, however, Fred was ready to produce dozens of books based on his work, always with the steadying influence of his wife, Gloria, who often also authored the text to go with his pictures.

Fred seemed to soften over the years – or maybe I became more open – and although he still enjoyed arguing – what New Yorker doesn’t? – the arguments became more like banter, less like shock therapy. He could even relax and recall some of those moments that made him the quintessential New York photographer. Once, we were meeting with Art D’Lughoff to negotiate for a signing for one of Fred’s book at Art’s famous Village Gate nightclub. D’Lughoff was sniffing for money to underwrite the event—which I didn’t have—while Fred was vainly trying to get him to provide something for nearly nothing—which Art wasn’t about to do. Nonetheless, there was a certain camaraderie among these veterans of New York’s art scene.

“Remember that time Norman Mailer threw up on you,” Art asked Fred with a big grin.

“Those were the days,” Fred replied, pleased to be associated in any way with Mailer, and the excitement and tumult that defined New York in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Stereo Is A Lie"--Moses Asch

Thinking about David Gahr brought back memories of Moses Asch . . . the following is a brief excerpt from the book I'm writing about Moe, Folkways Records, and his attempt to document "all the sounds of contemporary life."

As a young record producer for Moe Asch, I brought him a tape recorded in two-track stereo, admittedly primitively made in the basement of an Irish musician’s home. I wrote on the tape box “STEREO” in large letters, because Moe had previously issued an album of mine in mono—despite it being a stereo source. He took one look and said contemptuously to me: “Stereo is a lie.”

“But all recording is a lie,” I replied to Moe, “I mean, any recording that you make is a ‘translation’ onto tape of the real performance.”
At which point he reached behind his desk, where there were several shelves of small African figures, grabbed one, and threw it in my direction.

Because he believed recordings were “documents,” Moses Asch had strong feelings about how recording sessions should be conducted. He had begun his career as an audio engineer, and was a believer in using a single microphone, and ideally making a single take. Barring a major mistake, the “real performance” would be captured best in this way. In the early days, the recording was cut directly to a wax or acetate-coated disc, so there was no opportunity to manipulate or change the sound. In the later ‘50s, when “hi fi” was introduced, Asch vehemently opposed it because the original recordings were being manipulated (the “highs”—or higher frequencies--were being boosted and the “lows” compressed) so that the finished records would sound better on the playback equipment of the day. Asch became known as the advocate of “flat” recordings.

Peter Bartók, a recording engineer and close associate of Moe’s from his early days, commented in a lengthy interview in 2006 that an absolutely “flat” recording would be impossible to make. All equipment has built-in parameters to compensate for the mechanics of sound reproduction. In the 78 era, for instance, Bartók notes that bass frequencies had to be compensated for, otherwise the grooves on the record would have been so wide that the needle wouldn’t track. When LPs were first introduced, it took a while for engineers to work out the new parameters that would make recordings sound “natural.” Bartók —who did a great deal of mastering work and recording for Asch in the ‘50s and ‘60s—freely admits that he used equalization and other techniques to improve the raw tapes that Asch supplied.

I believe that Asch’s notion of “flat” recording was integral to his belief that a recording engineer and studio should be as “transparent” as possible in serving the artist’s vision. The major commercial labels used the studio to create a “product” based on the idea of selling as many records as possible; the artist’s intentions came second or third to the main purpose of making a profit. Asch believed that the studio should be a place where creativity was allowed to blossom. “Flatness” to him meant removing any barriers between the artist and the listener.

Just as ‘50s era “color” films have a glossy, surreal quality, early “Hi-Fi Stereo” recordings can sound artificial to today’s ears. As a member of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in the ‘50s, Asch vigorously opposed its introduction. Peter Bartók said that Moe was always particular when he was mastering a tape that Bartók take care to represent all the frequencies equally, without “favoring” one over the other:

He did like a certain kind of style that … – whether I happened to agree with it – all of the frequencies had to be represented. It shouldn’t be predominantly highs at the expense of the lows, but they all had to be there in their proper relationship.

Amusingly, Asch printed on the back sleeve of some Folkways releases in the later ‘50s this tongue-in-cheek tag line: “Folkways Hi Fi Records Play 2X (Twice) As Good on Stereo Equipment.” He meant, of course, that if you play a mono record on a stereo set, you hear the music out of both speakers—presumably making the record sound “twice as good.” Few probably realized that he was taking a jab at Hi Fi’s claim for superior sound quality.

Many listeners criticized Folkways recordings for their poor “quality.” Asch himself did little to counter this claim, gruffly answering an NPR interviewer who asked whether listeners were becoming more demanding about quality, “I tell them to go to hell! OK? Do you want the guts or do you want the quality.” However, this is somewhat misleading; Asch didn’t mean he would issue any recording, but that the quality of the recording itself was secondary to the importance of the particular performance. He strongly objected when Izzy Young suggested that Folkways included “mistakes” in their recordings:

No, no, no. . . . I don’t think I have ever issued a record with a mistake on it as such. If a singer like Lead Belly or Woody says to me don’t issue those things, I made a mistake, that’s something else. I would never issue those, but if an artist says after he hears the thing “We didn’t do this to make a million bucks, to be a commercial record. We did this because I remembered the song and this is the way I sang it.” Then I am proud to issue it.

Many artists were surprised when they first worked with Asch; he rarely interfered with a session, and sometimes even left the room while the machines ran and the musicians played. He consistently stated “I do not edit or control my artists.” This kind of freedom was absolutely unheard of in the commercial recording world. It is why so many performers and collectors remained committed to Folkways, despite Asch’s sometimes unpredictable behavior and always irregular payment.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

David Gahr (1922-2008): Some Personal Memories

Irascible as the day was long, David Gahr was the greatest music photographer of the last 5 decades, I'd say. He was discovered by the gruff and difficult Moses Asch, head of Folkways Records, who taught David to look for the truth behind the performer. David's profane love of his work -- and hatred for phoniness in all its manifestations -- was infectious, and he managed to see the creative spark as it occurred. Compare the photos of others who worked at the same spots and you'll see what I mean -- David's pictures are always superior because both David's and his subject's characters shine through.

David was always ready to tell me I was underpricing myself -- pushing me to value what I did more highly -- as well as to not work for those who failed to share our mutual vision. I was always inclined to compromise, but David never did and although I could not always meet his high standards at least I was inspired to try.

I had the pleasant and difficult task of working with David over the last few months before his death -- he allowed me to come to his home and forage through his 1000s of individual images to find just the right ones for a book that I'm completing on the history of Folkways Records. The work was full of laughter but David was quick to anger if he felt I was shortchanging the task, or settling for second-best. There was always another image to hunt down, to find the very best that could possibly be used, to represent both the spirit of Folkways and David's own contributions to it.

I was pleased that I had the opportunity to take David on one of his last adventures, a trip to his beloved Costco, located under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. Along with my friend Perry, who was helping me with my research, we took him to enjoy a lunch of $1.50 hotdogs. Although we encouraged him to purchase staples, like eggs and milk, David was more interested in stocking up on large containers of cheeseballs, gifts for his grandchildren, and tube socks. These were the necessities that he missed most in his home-bound later years.

His artistry was intertwined with his character: an earthbound love of all that was human. His eye will sorely be missed.