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Dino Valenti Gets Together

Dino Valenti Gets Together

          “Let’s Get Together” is on of the most recognizable songs of the 1960s, particularly the version done by the Youngbloods. The name Dino Valenti should also be as known since it was he who penned the song. Valenti may or may not have written another staple of the era, “Hey Joe,” though there seems to be some fuzziness about that. It may be a reworked traditional song or a song written by Billy Roberts and Len Partridge who “gave” the song to Valenti while Valenti was in jail (marijuana charges) to help Valenti financially.

To add to a bit of the confusion that can surround Valenti, one should also know that he was born Chester William “Chet” Powers, Jr.  on October 7, 1937 and was also known as a songwriter, as Jesse Oris Farrow. He was the lead singer of the outstanding Quicksilver Messenger Service.  Valenti died on November 16, 1994.

dino valenti

Dino Valenti Gets Together

Kingston Trio

          In any case, it was on this date, June 1, 1964 that the Kingston Trio released “Let’s Get Together” on their Back to Town album. If you were a Kingston Trio fan and bought the album, then you would have become familiar with the song. The album did reach #22 on Billboard Pop Album charts.

Kingston Trio singing “Let’s Get Together” from their Back in Town album.

Dino Valenti Gets Together

Dino Valenti 

Here is Dino Valenti singing the song himself:

Dino Valenti Gets Together

We Five

The We Five (of “You Were On My Mind” fame) covered the song in 1965, but it still didn’t catch on.

Dino Valenti Gets Together


Even in 1967 when Jesse Colin Young and the Youngbloods did what became definitive version, it did not do well commercially reaching #62 on the charts.

Fortuitously for the song and them, the song became part of a Public Service Announcement and re-energized their version which was re-released in 1969 and finally established deep roots in American music.

Dino Valenti Gets Together
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Crosby Stills Nash Crosby Stills Nash

Crosby Stills Nash Crosby Stills Nash

May 29, 1969

Crosby Stills Nash Crosby Stills Nash

Crosby Stills Nash Crosby Stills Nash

E Puribus Unum

          The Hollies were part of the British Invasion on the heels of America’s Beatlemania and we first heard them on “Look Through Any Window” without realizing we were listening to Graham Nash.

          The Byrds were part of “that” California sound that provided counterpoint to the Beatles. It was Roger McGuinn whose voice we were hearing mainly, but David Crosby’s was an important part, too.

We likely thought Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” was a war-protest song, not realizing it was about teenagers being allowed to stay out late. If someone had said Stephen Stills we may or may not have recognized the name.

Then we found out that Buffalo Springfield was no more; that the Byrds kicked David Crosby out of the band.

Crosby Stills Nash Crosby Stills Nash

April 1969

          In early April 1969, the brand new Rolling Stone magazine had an article about the three finishing their album (Rolling Stone magazine article). The article gave high praise to this latest “supergroup” : “The album, as yet untitled, is arguably the most talked-about LP-in-progress in Los Angeles, one of the most talked-about in the industry.”

          When Atlantic did release the album on May 29, 1969 such praise gave it an automatic boost. Unlike today, the group did not tour beforehand nor did  it tour right away.  And by the time they got to Woodstock and sang in front of the half million strong it was only their second gig. And they were, quote, scared shitless.

Crosby Stills Nash Crosby Stills Nash

Crosby, Stills & Nash album

          Though they were new, Crosby, Stills and Nash (no Oxford comma) did not need Woodstock and it’s accompanying movie and triple album exposure (Warner Bros owned the rights…Atlantic by this time was under WB’s umbrella…and Cotillion, the Woodstock album’s label was under Atlantic’s umbrella), but it helped of course.

The CS & N album went on to have two hit singles (” “Marrakesh Express” and “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” ) and  itself peaked at #6 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart. It now has had sales of over 4,200,000 copies.

Crosby Stills Nash Crosby Stills Nash

Cover trivia

Some trivia about the well-known album cover taken by the famed Henry Diltz. When Diltz took the photo, the band hadn’t settled on a name yet, but did within a day or two. Realizing that the band name did not match the photo, they returned to re-shoot. Unfortunately, the building had been demolished in the interim.

          When the jacket is fully opened the “whole” photo appears. At least it appears to appear with drummer Dallas Taylor Prisoner of Woodstock. That part of the photo was pasted in later with a photo of Taylor posed in Crosby’s door.

Crosby Stills Nash Crosby Stills Nash
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Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Released May 27, 1963
Freewheelin Bob Dylan
photo by Don Hunstein
“I’ll let you be in my dream, if you let me be in yours.”

Now we all know Bob Dylan. We have heard the songs on, Bob Dylanhis first album. We may know that he only wrote two of the album’s 13 songs: “Talkin’ New York” and “Song to Woody.”  His premier album an iconic moment in American history, though we didn’t realize it at the time.

The album sold about 2,500 copies its first year.

Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Times Changed

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan changed that story. Other than “Corina Corina,” Dylan wrote all its songs and as funny as “Talkin’ New York” may have been and as touching “Song to Woody” was, Freewheelin’  showed Dylan’s genius blooming.

The album, produced by John H Hammond, has a minimalist sound that concentrates our listening on Dylan’s lyrics. To note the personnel is important nonetheless:

  • Bob Dylan – guitar, harmonica, keyboards, vocals
  • Howie Collins – guitar
  • Leonard Gaskin – bass guitar
  • Bruce Langhorne – guitar
  • Herb Lovelle – drums
  • Dick Wellstood – piano

Each of these musicians deserve separate recognition. A personal favorite is Bruce Langhorne, the inspiration for Dylan’s “Mr Tambourine Man.” Another time.

Freewheelin Bob Dylan


Side One

  1. Blowin’ In the Wind
  2. Girl from the North Country
  3. Masters of War
  4. Down the Highway
  5. Bob Dyan’s Blues
  6. A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall
Side 2

  1. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
  2. Bob Dylan’s Dream
  3. Oxford Town
  4. Talkin’ World War III Blues
  5. Corrina, Corrina
  6. Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance
  7. I Shall Be Free
Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Don Hunstein

As memorable as each of the album’s songs is, Don Hunstein’s cover photo is equally so. Hunstein first began as an amateur photographer while in the Air Force and stationed in Europe. His interest became a hobby and after returning to the US and living in New York City, his hobby became a profession. As with so much in life, his timing was serendipitous.

Rock and roll was in a growth spurt and Hunstein landed a job at Columbia Records. Also lucky for Hunstein, Columbia recognized Hunstein’s talent and had him take pictures not just for albums, but of artists while recording. In their casual most human moments.

That is what he re-created for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Though posed, the photo presents Dylan and Suze Rotolo, his then girlfriend, as if in a candid moment.

Freewheelin Bob Dylan
another photo that same day also by Don Hunstein
Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Suze’s Take

In a 2008 NY Times article, Rotolo said of the photo, “He wore a very thin jacket, because image was all. Our apartment was always cold, so I had a sweater on, plus I borrowed one of his big, bulky sweaters. On top of that I put a coat. So I felt like an Italian sausage. Every time I look at that picture, I think I look fat.”

Freewheelin Bob Dylan
photos by Don Hunstein
Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Temporary change

Freewheelin’ was more than a moment. It was a prediction. Dylan would record two more albums in its style before going rogue in 1965 and quitting work on Maggie’s farm. That choice changed the American music scene as much as any single event in the history of American music and in many cases, 20th century Western civilization.

Though Dylan may have been referring to the human tendency toward violence when he sang…

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Pro and Con

The words turned out to be a prediction of Dylan’s change of artistic direction. Many fans hated 1965 because of that change.

Decades later, we can list dozens of songs we’d not have with us if it weren’t for that change and Dylan’s freewheelin’ attitude.

As Stephen Thomas Eriwine writes in his All Music reviewIt’s hard to overestimate the importance of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, the record that firmly established Dylan as an unparalleled songwriter, one of considerable skill, imagination, and vision. 

Freewheelin Bob Dylan


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