Thursday, November 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Dylan Goes Electric - July 1965

I have just finished reading Elijah Wald's excellent book Dylan Goes Electric. Hard to believe that it's 50 years since Bob Dylan shocked the folk music purists by playing a few songs at the Newport Folk Festival using a band with electric guitars. Oh the humanity!

But it was a big deal at the time. "The Night that Split the Sixties."

The book is a fascinating read. As the blurb on amazon. com tells it....
(The book) explores the cultural, political and historical context of this seminal event that embodies the transformative decade that was the sixties. Wald delves deep into the folk revival, the rise of rock, and the tensions between traditional and groundbreaking music to provide new insights into Dylan’s artistic evolution, his special affinity to blues, his complex relationship to the folk establishment and his sometime mentor Pete Seeger, and the ways he reshaped popular music forever.

As always, there's a lot more to the story than the simple myth that Bob Dylan picked up an electric guitar one July night in Newport in 1965 and changed popular music for ever.

Little did we know at the time, that the same weekend Dylan was in Newport, US President Lyndon Johnson was huddling with his military advisors in Washington, and a few days later he announced his order to increase the number of United States troops in South Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000, and to more than double the number of men drafted per month - from 17,000 to 35,000.

And of course nobody (apart from the immediate family) took any notice at all that on the last day of July 1965, a couple of newly-weds in England, an aircraft engineer and a science technician, welcomed a baby girl into the world. They called her Joanne but she goes by the name of J.K. Rowling these days.

What does all this have to do with sailing?

Not a lot.

I don't think LBJ and JK were sailors.

But Bob Dylan is (or was.) Check out Snowy Day Laser Sailor Blues which has a photo of Bob Dylan sailing a boat that's not a Laser and some lyrics about Newport.

And for your listening enjoyment - or you can boo if you want to like a lot of yahoos in Newport did - here is the first song in the performance that caused all the brouhaha on July 25 1965.

Well, I try my best 
To be just like I am 
But everybody wants you 
To be just like them

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