SUNDAY VIDEO: When Dylan Went “Electric”

Jun 23, 2013
9:38 am

This is why we love YouTube.


We did a little searching this morning a for a Sunday song and found the day Bob Dylan went electric in the summer of 1965 at the Newport Folk Festival.

Dylan started with “Maggie’s Farm.”

Then came “Like a Rolling Stone.”

To think that some people actually got pissed at Dylan for doing this:

With guitarist Al Kooper and The Paul Butterfield Blues Band backing him, Dylan took to the stage with his Fender Stratocaster on the evening of July 25 and launched into an electrified version of “Maggie’s Farm.” Almost immediately, the jeering and yelling from the audience grew loud enough nearly to drown out the sound of Dylan and his band. It has been stated by some who witnessed the historic performance that some of the yelling from the audience that night was about the terrible sound quality of the performance—overloud in general and mixed so poorly that Dylan’s vocals were unintelligible. But what prompted the outright booing—even over Dylan’s next number, the now-classic “Like A Rolling Stone”—was a sense of dismay and betrayal on the part of an audience unprepared for the singer’s new artistic direction.

And what did the man himself think of the unfriendly reception he received from what should have been the friendliest of audiences? Some say he was extremely shaken at the time, but with four decades of hindsight, his feelings were clear. Reflecting on Ronnie Gilbert’s “Take him, he’s yours” comment, Dylan wrote, “What a crazy thing to say! Screw that. As far as I knew, I didn’t belong to anybody then or now.”

Hells yeah, Dylan.

By the way, this performance, which is now 48 years old, stills sounds as fresh and raw as ever.