All posts by Patrick Edmondson

“…he not busy being born is busy dying…”

The Great Speckled Bird 5/12/69 vol 2 #9 p11

[The layout of the following article and lyrics was nonlinear, with sections and paragraphs arranged around photos and other graphics.]

 “I will secretly accept you,

And together we’ll fly South.”

 “Leave your stepping stones behind

There’s something that calls for you.

Forget the dead you left, they will not follow you.

The vagabond who’s rapping at your door

Is standing in the clothes that you once wore.

Strike another match–go start anew,

And it’s all over now, Baby Blue.”

 “And I’ll tell it and speak it and think it and breathe it

And reflect from the mountain so all souls can see it.

And I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’

And I’ll know my song well before I start singin’.”


“In a soldier’s stance I aimed my hand

At the mongrel dogs who teach.

Fearing not I’d become my enemy

At the instant that I preached.

My existence led by confusion boats

Mutinied from stern to bow–

Ah, but I was so much older then,

I’m younger than that now.”

 Bob Dylan chronicles a newborn musical soul in fetters: hillbilly theatrics and black-face minstrelsy stifle its expression and obscure its real identity. The guitar is raucous and untutored, its forms a parody of the strengths of black bluesmen and white troubadours who sang of hard times. Only the harmonica sings. A rough, fresh humor explodes through all the tradition and the intense preoccupation with death. The sound is uptight, confined. Woody Guthrie is mentor.

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan begins the pendulum swing away from the experience of the black man. Traditional white folk and “topical” forms are explored and expanded in a relaxation of the musical tensions of the first album. Interaction between voice and guitar is the keystone–both rough, both searching for a style and a form, but this time creating music in the process. Superlative harmonica offerings continue to hold the straining parts together. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” presages the sounds to come: a perfect musical and lyrical creation with guitar, vocal and harmonic textures intermeshed in an autonomous unit. The humor is still present, tempered by a growing bitterness.

 The Times They Are A-Changin’ continues the reformulation of the topical “protest” song, but this time the humor is absent. The singer becomes a preacher. The harmonica is distilled sadness and anger and fear while the guitar learns discipline.

 Another Side of Bob Dylan is the nadir of instrumental and vocal performance. Previous song forms are now totally inadequate: the new wine is bursting the old skins. The voice is increasingly strained and laden with self-pity, the instrumental accompaniment demoralized.

The next album is Bringin’ It All Back Home, but the trip is not into the past, but forward into the present. The sound turns on. Electric instruments are added. The total music is more alive than ever before. The term “folk music” is reinterpreted: the sounds which once came from the broadside now emanate from the jukebox. Teenagers all over the world have the subterranean homesick blues. There is a force, a fire long absent or suppressed. The harmonica soars, the electricity flows freely through the new expanded instrumentation, and the voice begins to work within the path created for it by the music: Guthrie has become the tambourine man.

 Highway 61 Revisited lets it all hang out. The musical psyche of youth weeps, laughs and lashes out violently at the absurdity of the old forms it has inherited. Freedom is not a goal to be won; freedom lies in the struggle against these old forms. It is a personal as well as a collective thing.

 Blonde on Blonde expands the electric sounds further and mellows them. Musical subtleties abound. Everything bristles, everything sings; the song, the singer, and the sound find a new realm of wholeness where they can move together. The turn-on has proved permanent and produces a vibrant palette of tone colors.

 John Wesley Harding is a distillation of all that has gone before. Instrumentation is simpler, more pungent, the song forms less complex and more elliptical. The sound plunges deep into the roots of white country music, and the voice handles its new eminence with grace. The forms are more regional, yet, mystical, more traditional, yet freer, pop but earthy. The voice evokes, it does not preach.

Nashville Skyline is the birth of a new voice: Dylan sings! Both the harmonious and discordant elements latent in the first album are now fused and reintegrated into a new sound. Johnny Cash joins Woody Guthrie. Humor returns not as an imp but as a lover. The old has produced the new. Dylan is now the country cosmopolite. Another struggle, another cycle begins.

The young Bob Dylan is full of words, but they are not his, nor are the forms in which they are expressed: the song is either “to Woody”

“Here’s to Cisco and Sonny and Leadbelly, too

And to all the good people that traveled with you;

Here’s to the hearts and the hands of men

That ‘come with dust and are gone with the wind”,

–or the experience it speaks of belongs to the black man.

“I’m walkin’ kinda funny, Lord,

I believe I’m fixin’ t’ die.

Oh well, I’m walkin’ kinda funny, Lord,

I believe I’m fixin’ t’ die.

Well I don’t mind dyin’ but I hate t’leave my children cryin’.”

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan begins to make his own personal statement, but the old forms continue to dominate. Enter the “message”. Even here “issues” become a cul-de-sac, and moralism gives way to a desire for change itself. Former issues of Right vs. Wrong are compressed into one comprehensive issue–new vs. old: “Get out of the new road if you can’t lend your hand/ For the time’s they are a-changin’.”      

This new emphasis upon a radically altering universe of values opens a door to a whole new experience. A verbal manifesto is required as a ticket to ride.

“Good and bad I defined these terms

So clear, no doubt somehow:

Ah, but I was so much older then

I’m younger than that now.”

 Love is impossible. “Go away from my window.”

 Bringin’ It All Back Home: Rock and Roll brings it all back home to the 20th century. Folk means pop, and the lyrics become looser with greater room for complexities and shifting priorities of meanings. The new freedom allows a place for love minus zero, no limit.

 Highway 61 Revisited submerges the Word, now harsh and biting into an orgy of imagery and electric sound: “the songs on this record are not so much songs but rather exercises in tonal breath control (B.D.) “‘Message Man” is now the villain of villains:

“You’ve been with the professors

And they’ve all liked your looks.

With great lawyers you’ve discussed lepers and crooks.

You’ve been through all of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books,

You’re very well read, it’s well known–

But something is happening here, and you don’t know what it is,

Do you, Mr. Jones?”

The word clusters are now too dense and evocative for any “message” Mr. Jones the Print Man might be able to seek–“There oughta be a law against you comin’ round/ You should be made to wear earphones!”

Blonde on Blonde accepts the new complexity as basic. The savage humor is mellowed and the love strain is amplified. The sprawling, inward turning images can construct a hymn to a “sad-eyed lady of the lowlands” or say simply, “I want you”.

John Wesley Harding compresses the lines into stark, enigmatic song forms in which “Nothing”–and everything–is revealed”. The simple eloquence of country music lyrics is inspiration. Song and setting are one and the same. Words are a means of expression for the voice, now used as an instrument within a total sound.

Folk, pop, country, rock – Nashville Skyline reformulates all the lyrical ingredients of all the previous verbal concoctions into a new, whole in which the voice supersedes the song–“love that country pie”.

 Bob Dylan is schizoid, an explosive energy source of youth in a new age struggling to express itself in old forms. Black experience is exploited ruthlessly and wars with the spirit of the dust bowl. A young soul is stretched taut between competing masques. Intuition and fear of death is accurate, but it will be a psychic death, a destruction of the ego. Precariously balanced equilibrium.

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan has some room to walk around. The mannerisms and affectations of false experience are channeled into more accommodating vessels. Preoccupation with death becomes horror at the condition of man in the 20th Century, and fear of The Bomb. White folk forms are infused with humor and the balance is maintained.

The Times They Are A-Changin’ tips the scales to the dark side. Humor is gone. Despair, outrage, protest, even vengeance come to the fore. Change is seen as an end in itself.

 The split occurs in Another Side of Bob Dylan. Uncertainty rules. The old answers become questions. Withdrawal, beginning of psychosis. Turning inward. There is only one issue now: being “hung up.”

Bringin’ It All Back Home discovers a new source of strength with which to face the trial ahead: electric rock, a new folk music for a new age. The door to the unconscious is opened, the past is irrevocably past.

Highway 61 Revisited gets down in it. All travel is within the psyche. The outside world is a manifestation of the horrors within. Chaos reigns, humor is savage. New forms, new shapes, all is accepted.

 Blonde on Blonde reveals a psychic implosion. Dylan gracefully rides the crest of his own mind wave. He has found his own frequency, and the love and humor can again have free play. The conscious and the unconscious are opposite sides of the same experience.

John Wesley Harding forms a synthesis. The wounds begin to heal, and a new vision appears. Rage and humor mellow into wisdom. White soul roots are deeper, flight is unrestrained. Passage from within to without is smooth and free. The Self.

Nashville Skyline is the birth of a new voice. All elements are balanced. Free-flowing sound. Wounds have become strengths. All blends into the love strain. Integration of the individual into the world. A new cycle begins.

“Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin’ to be so quiet

We’ll sit here stranded, though we’re all doing our best to deny it

And Louise holds a handful of rain tempting you to defy it

Lights flicker in the opposite loft

In this room the heat pipes just cough

The country music station plays soft,

But there’s nothing, really nothing to turn off

Just Louise and her lover so entwined

And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind.”


“Now the moon is almost hidden

The stars are beginning to hide

The fortune telling lady

Has even taken all her things inside

All except for Cain and Abel

And the hunchback of Notre Dame

Everybody is making love

Or else expecting rain

And the good Samaritan he’s dressing

He’s getting ready for the show

He’s going to the carnival

Tonight on Desolation Row.”

                                                                        –miller francis, jr.




Diamond Lil

RIP Diamond Lil 8/10/2016 @ 80 ( a secret no longer kept)



Coming into Atlanta from small town South Georgia in 1968 I had never met an openly gay person before and was a bit shocked at first. Lil regularly hung out at her friend Erica’s who lived with her husband and son Jolie at The Zoo, Penn @ 8th. Lil was a most interesting person. She had mastered the Southern Belle art of implying awful things about someone or something by an extravagant compliment as carefully worded as a stiletto. And her acute observations were usually what needed to be said rather than malicious. She amused me to no end with her intelligence and wit, and then I saw her perform and transform strutting the stage and singing. The girl could rock a crowd.

Creative Loafing “God Save the Queen” about Lil in 2003

diamondlil best


 God save the Queen | Creative Loafing Atlanta

DIAMOND LIL, 1935-2016

lilDrag legend, 80, dies of cancer

Performer’s influence on scene in Atlanta lasted over 40 years.

By Shane Harrison

Atlanta drag legend Diamond Lil, born Phil Forrester in Savannah on Dec. 28, 1935, has died at age 80. The performer had been ill with cancer for more than a year and was moved into a hospice care facility in recent months. Her influence on Atlanta’s drag scene is profound.

“Nothing could have prepared me for the first time I saw her perform,” said fellow performer,friend and fan Lily White in a Facebook post. “Little did I know that her talent and influence would change my life. Her love for her fans never wavered, and her crazy outlook on loving each other and having fun is still what I judge myself [by] to this day.”

Lil moved to Atlanta in 1965, beginning her local performing career at Mrs. P’s, a restaurant and lounge in the basement of the Ponce Hotel, just up the street from the Sears Building (now Ponce City Market).

Jimi Hendrix Blows Atlanta’s mind

Poster Hendrix68atl

Soft Machine, Amboy Dukes, Vanilla Fudge and Jimi Hendrix Experience’s two shows at Atlanta’s Municipal Auditorium blew away Atlanta’s collective mind on Saturday August 17, 1968. Have you ever been Experienced? Now we could answer in the affirmative. Musicians in particular talk about this show nearly 50 years ago!


How about a horrible Jimi Hendrix at the Auditorium shot. It gets worse than this........helps if you are in closer, right? Bill won’t like I included this, but It was often my vantage
How about a horrible Jimi Hendrix at the Auditorium shot. It gets worse than this……..helps if you are in closer, right?
Bill won’t like I included this, but It was often my vantage

A few remembrances :

Harry Demille

Rupert Fike

Bucky Weatherall


Harry Demille

Harry Demille bridges from The Strip community where he worked at the 12th Gate harry2 to the Little Five Points community where he co-founded Wax and  Facts.harry


12th Gate

Patti and Judith move from Florence, Alabama to Atlanta

Moving into the 12th Gate

The house of 12th Gate

Little Feat

DeMille’s Garrett

Great houses of the area gone with the wrecking ball

Finding new housing in Little Five Points

Learning about Inman Park

Wax and Facts

cheap housing

Little Five theaters

The Redwood Lounge -dangerous to pass


Starting  Wax and Facts

Sarah and Sean

New Wave

Hendrix blows Atlanta’s mind

Roy Orbison’s appeal to all ages

Coming to Seminole

Patti and Judith story


Headshop depends on your frame of reference

Atlanta musicians of the time

bad memories and aging

WRFG blues

Piedmont Park


































Steve Wise interview

steve wise2Steve Wise is a long time member of The Great Speckled Bird staff. He is working on his book concerning the times and underground papers.

(This was shot on the very northern edge of Piedmont Park across from [The Great Speckled Bird]  office at 240 Westminster Drive. and down the wooded hill from the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. We occupied that office from the fall of 1971 until May, 1972, when it was fire-bombed. My guess is that the pic was shot in December, 1971)

First row: Barbara Aiken, Stephanie Coffin, and Marjorie Jordan.  Second row: Roger Friedman (wearing the ram's horns), Robin Boult, and Bob Dorland [RIP].  Third row: Lucia Droby, Morris Brown [RIP], Teddi Vaile, and me. Back row: Ron Ausburn [RIP], Candy Hamilton, Zachary Coffin being held by Joaquín Eugene Guerrero, Charlie Cushing, someone hidden, Nancy Jones Presley, Blues (Michael Teece), and Carter Tomassi.
First row: Barbara Aiken, Stephanie Coffin, and Marjorie Jordan.
Second row: Roger Friedman (wearing the ram’s horns), Robin Boult, and Bob Dorland [RIP].
Third row: Lucia Droby, Morris Brown [RIP], Teddi Vaile, and me. Back row: Ron Ausburn [RIP], Candy Hamilton, Zachary Coffin being held by Joaquín Eugene Guerrero, Charlie Cushing, someone hidden, Nancy Jones Presley, Blues (Michael Teece), and Carter Tomassi.




steve wise








All recordings copyright the strip project 






emory conservative



beyond bird

bird finances

future media


music biz










Wolfe interviewed by Bill Horrisberger for StoryCorps

Kudos to Bill Horrisberger for his earlier StoryCorp interview.

Early life

Best times

Selling magazines

selling comics

Clifton Night Ministry

other shelters

Bill Horrisberger- conscientious objector

Visual Icon

Little Five Points fences


the Ex-Prez Way

Bill Horrisberger on shelters

Wolfe is a good man!