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

  • Fiddlin'

    Film Review: 'Fiddlin''

    Not many forms of music have “old-” actually built into their name as a prefix. So it’s a given that the practitioners of the 200-year-old genre known as “old-time music” will wear their antiquity proudly in “Fiddlin’,” a documentary set in and around the 80th annual Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, Va. What may not [...]

  • Beatles white album

    The Beatles to Release Limited Edition ‘Singles Collection’ Vinyl Boxed Set

    The Beatles’ last three years as an active band were their most prolific, with a whopping six albums of material and several singles released during that period (not including their solo and outside projects). Each album since 1967 has been met with a lavish boxed set, and next month the singles will get the same [...]

  • Despacito Luis Fonsi Daddy Yankee

    'Despacito' Tops Vevo's Most-Watched Videos of the Past Decade Chart

    In celebration of its 10-year anniversary, Vevo today announced its Top 10 lists of the decade’s most-watched music videos. Not surprisingly, the Most-Watched Music Video accolade goes to Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” (featuring Daddy Yankee), with 6.4 billion views since its release in early 2017. The second most-viewed video is Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” (featuring Bruno [...]

  • Bebe Rexha Drops Music Video From

    Bebe Rexha Drops Empowering Music Video From 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' (Watch)

    Bebe Rexha has dropped a video for her song “You Can’t Stop the Girl,” the female empowerment theme from Disney’s forthcoming “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.” Directed by Sophie Muller, the music video features scenes of Rexha reimagined as Maleficent and wandering through the film’s fantasy landscape, leading a marathon of women and snippets of the [...]

  • Sir Elton JohnElton John AIDS Foundation

    Recappin' Fantastic: The Most Fascinating Reveals From Elton John's Memoir

    How charming, and jaw-droppingly candid, is Elton John’s memoir, “Me”? Consider this: It’s a 350-page book that’s not so overly caught up in sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll — which, to be sure, it supplies in roughly equal, copious amounts  — that it won’t take a time-out to recount the party where Elton made [...]

  • Billie eilish

    Live From Hollywood: SiriusXM Unveils New West Coast Complex, Domination Plan

    It’s early on a Monday morning in Hollywood, and Howard Stern is sitting behind a desk sipping hot water in the airy revamped performance space of SiriusXM’s glistening new West Coast digs. The 26,000-square-foot studio on Sycamore Avenue is appropriately located for the self-proclaimed King of All Media — in the heart of the Media [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content