Bill Cosby Looks Back on the Folk Scene That Inspired ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

The comedy legend recalls a place and time that inspired young people to change America

Comedy legend Bill Cosby was launching his own career as a standup in the early 1960s and spent time at the Greenwich Village clubs that form the backdrop of the Coen brothers’ latest film, “Inside Llewyn Davis.” He described that era with Variety‘s Jon Weisman:

“You’ve got Peter, Paul and Mary. You’ve got a ton of folk singers. This is before any drummer came into play. This is people with acoustical guitars — Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie — and they’re singing about America. Woody Guthrie sings about the mistreatment and the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma. They’re singing about black lung disease and the treatment of the coal miners. And along with it comes their work as abolitionists for race. And these people are called communists.

SEE ALSO: Bill Cosby’s Stories Provide Must-Read Memories

“When Bob Dylan was a beginning fellow, Len Chandler, a black singer-musician who played a 12-string guitar, was a friend of his. The scene down there, Bleecker and MacDougal (streets) coffee houses, was a challenging one for socio-political idiots — (the) right wing was calling anybody that moved ‘communist.’

“And this whole country was on a youth movement, because the folk singers brought with them people who followed the music of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie and Theodore Bikel — they were there. The Village Gate, the coffee houses — it was anti-idiot time. These places, man, stayed open ’til 4 o’clock in the morning. But the colleges and those students supported them.

SEE ALSO: TV Review: ‘Bill Cosby: Far From Finished’

“I see writers — ‘A Hand Is on the Gate’ — all black actors doing things. The United States of America cannot escape that time. It nailed it.

“And from those folk singers, from those people singing about America about freedom, it becomes a reality that will not be turned back. College students, high school students, graduate students, NYU, Hunter College, CCNY. And then you go to Washington, D.C., it’s all over there, these folk singers, they’re there. And so then it goes to Los Angeles, it’s out there, the Troubadour, etc. etc. Folk music. It’s all over the place. Colorado. And it’s there in Washington, D.C., at the monument.”

More Music

  • Hugh Jackman 39th Brit Awards, Show,

    Concert Review: Hugh Jackman Sparkles and Shines at the Hollywood Bowl

    Hugh Jackman is out to prove he truly is the greatest showman. On Friday and Saturday night, Jackman’s “The Man. The Music. The Show.” world tour stopped in Los Angeles for a sold-out two nights at the Hollywood Bowl. Ten years ago, Jackman hosted the 2009 Oscars just a few blocks south of the venue at [...]

  • Portrait of author and writer Paul

    Paul Krassner, Satirist, Yippies Co-Founder and Counter-Culture Figure, Dies at 87

    Satirist, publisher, author and American counter-culture figure Paul Krassner died at his home in Desert Hot Springs, California on July 21. He was 87. His daughter Holly Krassner Dawson, confirmed the news to the Associated Press. Born in New York City on April 9, 1932, Krassner eventually moved to Southern California where he lived with [...]

  • Cameron Crowe, David Crosby, A.J. Eaton.

    Cameron Crowe on Why He Loved Leaving David Crosby Doc on a CSNY Question Mark

    David Crosby may or may not have stuck a joint in Cameron Crowe’s mouth the first time he ever met the future filmmaker, when Crosby was peaking with Crosby Stills Nash & Young and his interviewer was a precocious 15-year-old Rolling Stone correspondent. As Crowe said to Jimmy Kimmel the other night, “I remember it [...]

  • Adam Lambert Queen

    Concert Review: Queen and Adam Lambert Capitalize on 'Bohemian Rhapsody'

    About half way through Queen and Adam Lambert’s Saturday night show at the Forum in Inglewood, guitarist Brian May took the stage solo to perform a few numbers. He began by acknowledging that day’s 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, as the video screen behind him streamed a real-time replay of the Apollo [...]

  • R Kelly Sexual Assult Accusations Mugshot

    R. Kelly to Face Charges in New York on Aug. 2

    R. Kelly has been ordered brought to New York for his arraignment on racketeering charges that allege he recruited young girls for sexual abuse at concerts across the country, according to the Chicago Tribune. The charges are part of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against the singer that have been filed this year. Kelly, who [...]

  • Sturgill Simpson Announces New Anime Film,

    Sturgill Simpson Announces an Anime Film — and Album to Go With It — at Comic-Con

    From alt-country hero to anime producer, Grammy winner Sturgill Simpson is broadening his horizons. Appearing on a panel Saturday night at Comic-Con, Simpson announced an animated Netflix film, “Sound & Fury,” that he’s producing and wrote the original story for, to be accompanied by a simultaneously released album this fall he describes as “sleazy, steamy [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content