Len Chandler

Len Chandler (1935- ) is an American folk singer/songwriter.

"Originally from Akron, Ohio, and studying on scholarship at Columbia in the '50s, Chandler made his way to Greenwich Village folk music a bit by accident. Lured to the sounds of Washington Square Park by the downtown youths he was mentoring, he easily fell into the scene based on his natural ear for songwriting and his familiarity with the songs of Lead Belly, Big Bill Broonzy, and Woody Guthrie. Following a performance at the popular Village coffeehouse, the Gaslight Cafe, Chandler landed a contract to go to Detroit, writing and performing topical songs for local television. A few months later when the gig was through, he returned to New York to find the folk thing in full swing: Bob Dylan was the latest arrival to town and the pair started to trade ideas and songs. 'I hadn't yet begun writing streams of songs like I would, but Len was, and everything around us looked absurd—there was a certain consciousness of madness at work,' wrote Dylan in his book Chronicles. Chandler remembers it like this in Keep on Pushing: 'The first song I ever heard of Dylan's was 'Hey ho, Lead Belly, I just want to sing your name,' stuff like that.' Dylan used Chandler's melody for his song, 'The Death of Emmett Till.' 'Len didn't seem to mind,' wrote Dylan. Chandler went on to record two albums for Columbia: To Be a Man and The Loving People. He continued to work as a topical songwriter, a peace and civil rights advocate, and as a songwriting teacher; his tour of Pacific Rim bases with Donald Sutherland, Jane Fonda, Holly Near and Paul Mooney was documented in the Francine Parker film, FTA, a must-see for anyone interested in US history and anti-war efforts within military ranks. Today, Chandler is largely retired from performing, but he remains well-informed on human rights, politics, and the arts, and can write and perform songs that still pack a punch."

—Denise Sullivan

Beans in My Ears