Profile of an organ.
Photo by Leiada Krozjhen on Unsplash
Turn it up!
In 1965, producer Tom Wilson invited a 21-year-old Al Kooper to play guitar on a new record by Bob Dylan. Kooper was ambitious and excited for the opportunity. He showed up, unpacked his guitar and sat down, but another guitarist, more accomplished than he was already warming up and getting ready to play.
So, Kooper packed up his guitar and went and sat in the control booth with Wilson. A few hours into the session, Wilson moved the organ player to piano and Kooper saw a new opportunity. He said to Wilson, “Why don’t you let me play the organ, I’ve got a great part for this.” Wilson responded, “You don’t play the organ. You’re a guitar player.”
Kooper said a second time, “I’ve got a really good part for this. I could play it.”
Wilson said, “Al!”
Just then, someone came into the booth and told Wilson he had a phone call, and Wilson left. Kooper later recounted that Wilson hadn’t said, ‘no.’ So Kooper made his way back into the studio and got ready to play the organ.
Sometimes seizing an opportunity requires taking a chance on someone not having said ‘no,’ but also not having given you permission. Then, be bold in playing your part. You just might excel at something others doubt you can do.
As they played the recording back, Dylan, told Wilson to turn the organ up, and Wilson said, “Bob, that guy’s not an organ player.” And Dylan said, “I don’t care. Turn the organ up.”
And that’s how Al Kooper wound up playing perhaps the most famous organ part in rock ‘n’ roll history on the song “Like a Rolling Stone.” Soon others began mimicking the same organ sound on their records—the sound of an organ played by a man who did not play organ but did play guitar.
Be prepared for opportunities. Sometimes seizing an opportunity requires taking a chance on someone not having said ‘no,’ but also not having given you permission. Then, be bold in playing your part. You just might excel at something others doubt you can do.