Leventhal: THE FIFTH WEAVER
By Jorge Arevalo
In celebrating Harold
Leventhal’s 65 years in the music industry we pay tribute
to a man once described as “the Dean of Personal Managers”
and acknowledge his immense contribution. While some of the elder
folkies may recognize the name, associating it with artists such
as The Weavers, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins
and Arlo Guthrie, Leventhal’s unassuming and laid-back personality
gives little indication of the scope of his personal experiences
or accomplishments and their inextricable link to historic events,
places, and people. Described by Millard Lampell as “the only
folk singer who doesn't have to croak a note,” Leventhal’s
memoirs could fill several volumes.
Born in Ellenville, NY in 1919, Harold Leventhal is the youngest
of five children of orthodox Jewish, immigrant parents from the
Ukraine and Lithuania. When only eight weeks old, his father’s
premature death left the family without any clear means of financial
support. The family relocated to Manhattan’s Lower East Side
where his mother worked as the janitor of their building, and where
he started school at P.S. 188. In 1933, the family moved to the
Bronx. Even at the age of 15, Leventhal was an intellectually curious,
politically motivated, idealistic and yet pragmatic individual.
While a student at James Monroe High School, he began to explore
a growing interest in the Jewish faith, at one time seriously considering
rabbinical studies. Always delving into socially conscious politics
he joined the local Young Communist League. While still in high
school he was arrested for helping to organize the 1936 Oxford Pledge
Strike--part of a movement to get people to promise they wouldn't
participate in any wars. Involved in anti-Fascism and the union
organizing struggles of the time, Leventhal’s youthful activism
garnered for him a practical street education that would later serve
his political and professional interests.
In 1939, after losing
a factory job due to his union affiliation, Leventhal began his
career in the music business. With the help of his older brother,
Herbert, he secured a position as an office boy for the Irving Berlin
Music Company, eventually advancing to the position of song plugger.
During the 1940s Leventhal inhabited New York’s big band era
nightlife, working the clubs and pitching Berlin’s songs to
band leaders such as Harry James, the Dorsey brothers, and Benny
Goodman. He later worked for the Regent Music Company which was
run by Goodman and his brothers. Leventhal personally worked with
many of the top pop singers of the day such as Frank Sinatra, Dinah
Shore and Peggy Lee, helping many of them get their first big break.
In the waning days of Tin Pan Alley, during the musical efflorescence
of swing jazz and American popular song, Leventhal honed his knowledge
of the burgeoning commercial music industry. The dynamic and lively
scene also afforded him the opportunity to develop a keen awareness
of audiences, to recognize their entertainment needs, and to carefully
measure their responses. These talents further enhanced his understanding
of the rapidly maturing music industry. He learned his trade - music
marketing and promotion, concert production, and publishing - during
what was the American recording industry’s most sustained
period of widespread growth.
During World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. military, serving in
the Signal Corps as a technical corporal. Stationed in India between
1944 and 1946, his political interests led him to seek out members
of the Indian National Congress. His meetings with Jawaharlal Nehru
and Mahatma Gandhi had a profound impact on his personal and political
philosophy. The influence of both India’s first Prime Minister
and consummate peacemaker would alter and forever affect his life,
particularly during America’s civil rights struggles of the
1960s when he met with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King asked
Leventhal to recount Gandhi’s ideas on his political strategy
Following the war, Leventhal
resumed his music business practice; however, with a decidedly different
orientation than before. As part of New York's intellectual Left,
his ongoing interest in liberal politics brought him into the orbit
of American folk music. Alan Lomax's introduction of artists such
as Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie, together with Pete Seeger, Molly
Jackson, Josh White, Cisco Houston, and the Almanac Singers, became
the living soundtrack for proletarian and progressive causes. A
regular at political rallies and events which he often helped organize,
Leventhal listened to and enjoyed these artists, whose music, with
its undiluted, raw earthiness exuded a sense of social responsibility.
While working on the
Henry Wallace presidential campaign of 1948, Leventhal met Pete
Seeger and their lives have been closely enmeshed ever since. After
seeing the Weavers perform at the Village Vanguard in 1949, Seeger
asked Leventhal to manage The Weavers. Leventhal, who was appreciated
by the Left for his business instincts, accepted. In 1955, fed up
with the House Un-American Activties Committee hearings, the blacklist,
and incessant FBI scrutiny, Leventhal defiantly instigated The Weavers’
reunion at the now historic Christmas Eve Carnegie Hall concert.
The event resulted not only in marking the return of “America’s
favorite folk singers” to the performance stage but is also
generally acknowledged as the onset of the folk music revival movement--the
socio-cultural movement which greatly impacted and revitalized the
American Left. As Al “Red” Galdi, one of Leventhal’s
longtime friends put it, “Harold had a big part in shaping
the liberal thinking of the music business.” Always committed
to his artists, Mr. Leventhal bought a full page ad in the May 1,
1965 issue of Variety to acknowledge The Weavers fifteenth
anniversary. It contained the complete and unedited version of Guthrie’s
“This Land is your Land.”
In 1954, Mr. Leventhal met Natalie Buxbaum at a private party he
organized for the Indian delegation at the United Nations, where
she worked as a tour guide. They married and have raised two daughters,
Debra and Judith. [This May they celebrate their 50th Anniversary.
They now boast four grandchildren: Danielle, Samantha, Jacob and
Despite the rampant paranoia of the Red Scare, Leventhal conducted
his business without either compromising his artists or his personal
integrity. Weaver member Fred Hellerman, calling Leventhal “the
fifth Weaver,” stated that “Harold was always there
for us . . . when all the rats deserted the sinking ship, there
was Harold. He never deserted us.” For more than a half century,
Leventhal has been Pete Seeger's personal manager, publisher, and
trusted friend. Since 1955, he provided help and guidance to Woody
Guthrie and his family, remaining by Guthrie’s side as the
artist slowly descended into a fifteen year mortal bout with Huntington’s
Disease. As a close friend and advisor, he oversaw the establishment
of the Guthrie Children's Trust Fund. Serving as trustee and caretaker
for what is now the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives, he ensured
the perpetuation of Guthrie's legacy.
A cultural historian
at heart, Leventhal has lent his efforts to numerous important preservation
projects: Yiddish theater, the Paul Robeson Foundation, and the
Lead Belly Foundation, among others. Concerned with honoring and
maintaining cultural continuity, Leventhal has produced several
significant tribute concerts, including the Woody Guthrie Tribute
Concerts held at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1968 and at the
Hollywood Bowl in 1970; a tribute to Phil Ochs in 1976; and a tribute
to Folkways Records founder Moses Asch in 1987.
With the commercial success
of The Weavers, Leventhal demonstrated folk music’s commercial
potential, gaining wide public and critical acceptance for it at
unprecedented levels. His respect for folk artists and their music
led many of them to seek out his representation as personal agent.
For his part, Leventhal was only interested in artists he perceived
to have lasting quality. Not surprisingly, he was known to politely
decline requests by artists who would later become pop and rock
superstars. Nevertheless, the Harold Leventhal Management artist
roster for the 1950s and ‘60s reads like a “Who’s
Who” list of seminal folk, blues and popular artists: Cisco
Houston, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mahalia Jackson, Leon Bibb, Tommy
Makem and the Clancy Brothers, The Tarriers, Peter, Paul and Mary,
Johnny Cash, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and
Judy Collins, to name a few. In Mr. Leventhal’s estimation,
Arlo Guthrie has held a very special place. For over thirty years,
he has presented Arlo in a variety of settings and venues, including
at the annual Carnegie Hall holiday concerts.
Mr. Leventhal also presented
Bob Dylan at his first Town Hall concert on April 12, 1963 and introduced
New York audiences to Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell,
foreshadowing the increasingly important role of women artists in
folk and popular music. His talent at negotiating equitable and
profitable recording contracts for his artists with the industry’s
then major labels (Decca, RCA, and Columbia) is legend.
Leventhal was one of the first American concert producers to book
international folk and ethnic artists into New York’s Carnegie
Hall and Lincoln Center. He introduced American audiences to Jacques
Brel, Miriam Makeba, Nana Mouskouri, Enrico Macias, and many others.
In effect, he might be considered New York’s first world music
promoter, popularizing and internationalizing American folk and
ethnic music’s, and introducing the notion of “world
music” to audiences well before such a marketing concept existed.
This achievement alone can be ranked for its cultural significance
alongside the work of folk song collectors John and Alan Lomax,
as well as that of jazz impresarios such as Leonard Feather, John
Hammond, George Wein, Norman Granz, and Wynton Marsalis.
His cultural productions, however, were not limited to New York
or the U.S. He booked tours for American folk artists in England,
France, Eastern Europe and the former U.S.S.R. During the 1960s,
while the State Department omitted American folk music from their
cultural exchange program, Mr. Leventhal undertook the enterprise
to produce concerts in the eastern bloc himself. He even appeared
at the International Light Music Festival in Sopot (Danzig), Poland,
marking the first time that an American was invited to participate
as a judge. In many ways, Mr. Leventhal set the stage for Pete Seeger
and others to serve as voices for something other than the official
U.S. cultural policy.
Through the early 1960s and 70s, his abiding interest in theater
led to a number of productions as well as a creative and business
partnership with actor and producer Alan Arkin, resulting in several
motion picture and television projects. In 1961, he co-produced
Rabindranath Tagore's King of the Dark Chamber, which was staged
as a dramatic theatrical work based on an Indian folk-ballad. It
ran successfully for eight months garnering favorable reviews for
its innovative blend of traditional and modern elements. Other productions
with which Mr. Leventhal has been involved include Mark Twain’s
America, starring Will Geer at the off-Broadway Folksay
Theater; The Jewish State Theatre of Poland’s first ever U.S.
presentation of Jacob Gordin’s Mirele Efros and Bertolt
Brecht’s Mother Courage in 1966 with Yiddish star
Ida Kaminska; Joseph Heller’s first play, We Bombed in
New Haven, starring Jason Robards at the Ambassador Theater;
Julius J. Epstein’s But Seriously at the Henry Miller
Theatre, in which actor Richard Dreyfuss made his Broadway debut;
Jules Feiffer’s The White House Murder Case at the
Circle in the Square Theater in 1969; and, in 1974, Maxwell Anderson’s Joan of Lorraine.
In the 1960s, Leventhal
began his involvement with numerous film productions, co-producing
Arthur Penn’s Alice's Restaurant, starring Arlo Guthrie.
In 1976 he produced Bound For Glory based on Woody Guthrie’s
autobiography, which received two Academy Awards. In 1980, he co-produced
Jim Brown’s documentary Wasn’t That A Time
about The Weavers, and in 1989 received an Emmy Award for the television
documentary We Shall Overcome. That same year, he received
a Grammy award as producer of A Vision Shared: A Tribute to
Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly (Columbia). In 1972, Mr. Leventhal
acted as executive producer for the documentary Pete Seeger
. . . A Song and a Stone. Underlying the broad themes found
in each of these productions--whether it be drama, satire, documentary
or comedy--one easily recognizes the seeds of Leventhal’s
constant and enduring anti-war and progressive ethos.
According to noted biographer Ed Cray, Leventhal embodies the very
definition of the Yiddish word mensch, or in Leo Rosten's
words: “an upright, honorable, decent person ... Someone of
consequence; someone to admire and emulate; someone of noble character.”
efforts and cultural contributions have just begun to be recognized
outside his extended inner circle of family and friends. He recently
received two Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Folk Alliance
of North America and the Huntington's Disease Society of America.
To this day, Leventhal
remains enthralled with Indian culture and politics: he was chairman
of the American Friends of India and has been actively involved
with the India League; he has arranged exhibitions by Indian artists
such as Jamini Roy, M.F. Husain, and Satish Gujral; presented theater
works by Rabindranath Tagore; and helped Satyajit Ray obtain a major
showing of his first film in New York. Mr. Leventhal is also a dedicated
collector of contemporary Indian art and literature.
At 84, Leventhal continues to provide insight and advice to past
and new generations of artists and other cultural producers. Arlo
Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Fred Hellerman and Nora Guthrie are only a
few of those who confide and rely on their wise old friend for the
experience that his life offers. He has demonstrated how personal
faith and humor, along with social and political consciousness,
can coexist and thrive at the interstices between the forces of
capitalism and globalization. More significantly, he has instructed
new generations to negotiate and articulate artful and meaningful
ideas within them.
A man of faith and conscience,
a devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Harold Leventhal’s
love and understanding of people enabled him to bring Western and
Eastern musical traditions, literature, theater, and fine arts to
audiences around the world--and with it, humanistic thoughts and
ideas. He has enriched world culture through the very means
of cultural production that have created an otherwise all-pervasive
commercialism. For Leventhal, quality and integrity are the essential
universal qualities of human expression and cultural production,
wherever and from whomever they derive.
article was first printed in the program book to the Tribute
to Harold Leventhal Concert at Carnegie Hall on November 29th,
of the (Carnegie) Hall
What were the
issues you were first interested in?
The vision was always
that we’re gonna make the world a better place to live in.
Both on a local level and our understanding of the world. There
were two big political things at that time. One was the Spanish
Civil War. Then there was the invasion by Mussolini of Ethiopia.
Then they called it Abyssinia. Then the rise of Hitler. Those were
the foreign issues.
The issue in our country
was the fight of the organization of the unions. We gave a lot of
support to the rise of the union movement, to fight for unemployment
benefits, for social security. We stood at subways handing out flyers.
We had street meetings. We tried to influence as many people as
War II you were stationed in India. What was it like?
It was like going into
a dreamland. We found the culture, and the way of living, entirely
different than we had grown up in, in our own country. It took weeks
for us to get accustomed to the culture and the living standards
of India which were pretty poor, very poor at that time.
How did you meet
I think it was in December
of 1945. I read in the Calcutta newspapers that the leadership of
the All India Congress, the main political organization fighting
for independence, was to hold a meeting in Calcutta. It announced
that attending the meeting would be Jawaharlal Nehru, who was then
the leader of the Indian Congress, and Mahatma Gandhi, as well as
all the other leaders of the country. Well, this was a rare opportunity
to find all of these prominent people in one place. And I figured “How am I gonna get to try to meet these people?” Fortunately,
I knew a family in Calcutta and the father was a prominent member
of the Congress. I asked him if he would give me a note to take
to where Nehru was. And he gave me a note. I went to the house.
Hundreds of people were outside, in the gardens of the house. It
was unusual for them to see someone in an army uniform going into
the house. Then Nehru walked into the room and we were introduced.
We sat down and Nehru said that he’s gonna have some meetings
very soon and perhaps I could come back and we’ll spend “as
much time as you want.” I said “Fine.” I noticed
he was a chain smoker and then I offered to bring him a carton of
cigarettes, which I did later on. I waited around and sure enough
I was paged and Nehru got on the phone and told me I can come by
within an hour or so, which I did. And then I became friendly with
him. It was he that gave me a letter of introduction to Gandhi,
which was unusual.
So you met Gandhi?
I had this note in my
hand from Nehru. His secretary comes out and says “Gandhi
can’t see you today. This is Thursday. He doesn’t talk
on Thursdays. Come back tomorrow.” Fortunately, I asked him
for the note back, which was handwritten by Nehru, and Gandhi had
written on the bottom of it for me to come back. I still have this
note in my house. I came back the next day. And I brought along
with me a black soldier who was a well known communist in the United
States. Gandhi was seated in his room running his spinning wheel.
He asked someone to get us chairs but we said no, we will sit on
the floor as he did. First question he asked was “Why are
there American soldiers in India and what are you doing here? What
is the attitude of the American soldiers? How was Paul Robeson?
Who was Harry Truman?” And he kept probing us on the role
of the American soldiers in India. He gave me, which I still have,
the flag of the Indian National Congress. Nehru gave me a book.
I did see Nehru when he came to New York, in ´64. He recognized
me and his comments would satisfy Natalie when his first remark
to me was “You gained weight.” I did, of course. (laughs)
Is India still
a part of your life?
My experience in India
was one of the highlights of my life. When I returned to the United
States I helped organize a group called The American Friends of
India which consisted of veterans who served in India. For all these
years I have maintained a steady interest in India. I made repeated
visits back there. I became acquainted with a lot of friends, some
of whom became prime ministers, presidents of India, leaders in
their government offices. I’ve been able to gather a very
good collection of Indian contemporary paintings… probably
the best private book collection on India in New York. So it’s
been a big, big force in my lifestyle and my outlook on things.
Even in India,
music and politics were closely related for you. How did you meet
I met him as a young
musician who was then leader of a musical group at the Indian Peoples'
Theater Association in Calcutta. We became friends. And again, he
came to the United States and we greeted each other and we see each
other from time to time. He called me and wanted to know, ´cause
he was also a good cook, he wanted to have a dinner. Could I invite
Pete Seeger? Could I invite Bob Dylan? I called and of course they
all came. Now, the interesting thing is we got there at about 7:30
pm and he said “Before we have dinner let me play a few ragas.”
(laughs) The ragas went on for hours! We’re used to having
dinner by eight o’clock! Dylan is looking at me and saying,
“Hey, when are we gonna eat?” Finally, about 10:30 Ravi
said, “Well, we’re ready to have food.” We were
When you returned
from India, you resumed your contacts with the music world. You met people like Woody Guthrie, Cisco Houston, Sonny Terry, Pete
Seeger and The Weavers. How did that happen?
I was reading The Daily
Worker and I saw the columns by Woody Guthrie. I became more interested
and went down to the big memorial concert for Lead Belly. I really
became interested in that music before I met Pete Seeger. At that
time I would go to the hootenannies because it was a political thing,
too. And I would see Woody there, Lead Belly, Pete, and other people.
So that was my introduction to that music.
It was later that I met
Pete. We’d go to the same political events. Pete knew that
I had worked for Irving Berlin. What we learned from the left was
a good sense of organization. I mean, you had to carry out certain
obligations on time and be exact. I had the feeling that I could
do things in an organizational way. That’s what came up when
Pete asked me to manage the Weavers. I said, “Sure I can.” That changed my whole life.
And not just
in music, but also because of the political situation. I mean, the
anxiety created by the Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy who started
the witch hunt for so-called communists in politics, public service
and culture. Even the success of “Goodnight Irene” couldn’t
help The Weavers.
It was around 1951 when
the whole Red Scare was beginning to rise. There was a publication
that listed The Weavers as being communists. And therefore, there
were certain organizations that demanded that the stores shouldn’t
sell these records and radio stations shouldn’t play them.
Then the bookers said “Well, there’s a little trouble
getting you bookings.” And people in the industry would say
“Why are you hanging around with these people? Nobody will
come to you to manage them.” And I just kind of laughed at
these guys and said, “You don’t understand what it’s
all about!” So, I tried to be supportive of them, which I
was, of course. Tried to fight all of these things. But you couldn’t
fight them. The whole atmosphere was that everybody stayed away
from you. When the blacklisting took its effect nobody in the music
industry would come to our defense. They even avoided calling me up to say “Look, I can’t
talk about it, but I think it’s terrible.” Nobody.
In 1955, Pete
Seeger had to appear before the House Un-American Committee and
was banned from TV and radio until the early ´60s. But you
always found ways and means to schedule gigs for the Weavers and
Pete, and find radio stations which, in spite of strong pressure,
were willing to play their records.
People were scared but
not frightened. In other words, they were annoyed at the situation.
More so because a lot of people did not show any sympathy because
they were afraid. So you became isolated. The left was being destroyed.
But you stuck with it, because at least I felt I never did anything
[to violate] the democratic principles of our country. This was
a Red scare and we had a feeling that it was going to be over, sooner
or later. So you stuck to your guns. We looked for other ways to
make a living where possible, or we were able to live on what we
were doing. I could have possibly made a much better living or been
more successful, but I didn’t want to trade that in for what
I believed in. I could have dropped the whole thing and gone on
in the music or the entertainment business without this. But that’s
not where I was.
Were you personally
The FBI used to come
around wanting me to discuss things with them. Their main question
was “As a good American, don’t you want to tell us about
the menace of the communists that you’re a member of?”
Either you talked to them or you said “no” and shut
the door on them. I said “no” and I shut the door. Of
course I was scared, but I knew there were other people going through
the same thing. Things were tough enough. They couldn’t have
made it tougher for me... I wasn’t losing a big job with a
lot of money.
They used to come [to
the office], and call me at home. They would wait for me downstairs
in my building. Always two guys. And it was obvious. They walked
across when I went to the subway, nudging me. And I never said a
word to them. I did have a lawyer waiting in the wings. He said, “Just ignore them.” Within a year after they started
this, they disappeared. But years ago, when I got my FBI reports… boy, they knew everything!
Up until 1955, I couldn’t
get a passport. Pete couldn’t get a passport. The State Department
would not give passports to alleged Reds. I have an official letter
in which they turned me down. I didn’t go overseas until 1960.
How did your
political beliefs transfer to your work?
As a manager, or concert
producer, I could use that organizational talent for left wing or
progressive causes. And I did. Around the early fifties I left the
communist movement as many of us did. But that doesn’t destroy
or kill the kind of things that you believed in… justice,
civil rights. That struggle was still there. So you transfer all
of that to the struggles of the time, which in the late fifties
was the civil rights movement. Then later on the anti-Vietnam movement.
Whenever I was called upon to sponsor events that would raise money
for these causes, I did.
It was August ´63
that there was the famous speech that Martin Luther King, Jr. made
in Washington. It had to do with breaking the question of the race
situation in the United States. I was fortunate that I had met Dr.
Martin Luther King. On one occasion I told him that I had met Mahatma
Gandhi. He spent an hour with me just [asking me] to tell him about
I dealt a lot with the
black leaders, the young leaders in the South, helping them arrange
affairs where money was being raised. I did not go down to the South
on these demonstrations. But certainly, the people in our office
went. Pete was a leader of that and Theodore Bikel at that time,
Judy Collins, even Arlo [Guthrie]. I got Bob Dylan to go down at
that time. I was back in the office dealing with the various people,
setting up programs to raise money. I felt that was my contribution.
There weren’t too many artists, considering the numbers around,
that even participated in that. One of the rare ones was the jazz
singer Tony Bennett who went down to the South.
Pete Seeger wrote
about you, “He has done something extraordinary for The Weavers.
He risked his own head and believed in us when nobody else did.
You might say he believed in America.” Thinking of the present
political situation, is it hard to still believe in America?
Well, honestly, I feel
somewhat depressed, politically. This is the worst in my history
of being around as a citizen. We got an administration that is on
the border of [being] neo-fascist, in my opinion. And this is it.
This is a calamity.
all the years you fought for a better world, how do you feel now?
Is it painful?
I don’t think it’s
painful. Disappointing is the word. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t
continue being in progressive causes, or causes that are for the
better of minorities. Those causes are still there. You just don’t
give up. You’re always somewhat optimistic that somewhere
along the line whatever you stand for is gonna come true. It’s
the struggle of getting there that has become very difficult. The
atmosphere in our country today is extremely difficult. We don’t
have enough forces that we might have had 30 years ago to rally
around good causes. We’ve been marginalized. Apparently the
right wingers don’t care what we say. They let us say it because
they know, or they think, that we don’t mean anything. This
is what’s happening to a great extent.
because, look, we got rid of Nixon! Whoever heard of a president
being kicked out? There is the ability in this country, in spite
of its faults, in spite of its difficulties, you can open your mouth.
You might get arrested in some places (laughs) but you get out.
There’s a lawyer gonna get you out!
Do you ever regret
your decision not to join the big music business when you had the
opportunity to, and instead stuck to your principles and friends?
I am extremely proud
and happy that I had the chance to work with unique people. Whether
it’s Woody Guthrie, The Weavers, Pete, Judy Collins, Arlo
Guthrie, Theodore Bikel, Alan Arkin. These are good people. Talented
people. And I worked very well with them. That in itself is a satisfaction.
I made a contribution in permitting these people to flourish, or
helping them flourish. You know, Pete … I quote him a lot
´cause he comes up with quotes (laughs) … he got a Grammy
Award. They went into a room with people from the press and someone
said, “Mr. Seeger, how do you feel, at your age,” and
Pete was then probably 78, “at this late date in your career
to have first won this award?” Pete looked at the guy and
he said, “I never had a career. I did what I wanted to do.”
In a sense, too, I did what I wanted to do. I had many opportunities
to advance myself in the business. I chose not to. I made a reasonably
good living out of it. And I felt I had to be part of the people
I was working with. I felt part of them.
been married to Natalie for 49 years. She once told me that humor
has helped the two of you get through everything. Is this true?
Yes. And being hopeful.
Feeling that you’re doing the right thing. The rationale that
whatever you do, you think it’s the right thing. Perhaps not
everything but on the whole you feel the decisions that you make,
whether it’s political decisions or decisions about living
conditions of your own, you’re doing the right thing. And
in the process you’re working with people that have similar
feelings that you have, so you are not completely isolated.
What do you enjoy
I like to read. I like
to listen to music… I used to go to the theater a lot but
it becomes a little more difficult and I’m almost revolting
because the theater costs so much. I can afford it, but why should
I spend that kind of money for these things? I’m annoyed with
frivolous things. I mean the whole development in the music scene
is really negative as far as I am concerned. It’s shallow,
it’s meaningless. It’s all hype. This country is built
I’m turning 84
in a month. I’ve been through a lot, and collected things.
I looked at some things I had, little notebooks I made in 1932 and
I’m reading them. Memo books, what I did in the day, even
how much I spent, carfare, lunch money. In a sense, I have a record
of my life. Paper records, photo records, mementos. I still continue
my interest in India … I think what I wanna do in the next
year or so is spend more time assembling all of these things, so
that it’s not dispersed. It will be left as a memo of what
I’ve done. Either for the family or whoever wants to use it.