Dylan Goes Electric!

Dylan Goes Electric!

Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties

Book - 2015
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One of the music world's preeminent critics takes a fresh and much-needed look at the day Dylan "went electric" at the Newport Folk Festival, timed to coincide with the event's fiftieth anniversary. On the evening of July 25, 1965, Bob Dylan took the stage at Newport Folk Festival, backed by an electric band, and roared into his new rock hit, Like a Rolling Stone. The audience of committed folk purists and political activists who had hailed him as their acoustic prophet reacted with a mix of shock, booing, and scattered cheers. It was the shot heard round the world-- Dylan's declaration of musical independence, the end of the folk revival, and the birth of rock as the voice of a generation-- and one of the defining moments in twentieth-century music. In Dylan Goes Electric!, Elijah Wald 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. Breaking new ground on a story we think we know, Dylan Goes Electric! is a thoughtful, sharp appraisal of the controversial event at Newport and a nuanced, provocative, analysis of why it matters.
Publisher: New York, NY : Dey St., an imprint of William Morrow Publishers, [2015]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780062366689
Branch Call Number: 781.6609 W157d 2015
Characteristics: xiv, 354 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 22 cm


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Jan 17, 2016

This is a quick read. Good background on the music scene in the 60s. For the rest, I agree with lukasevansherman's review.

Nov 09, 2015

"Then came Dylan's explosion of light, sounds, and anger. . .The tone of the evening had vanished. Hope had been replaced by despair, selflessness by arrogance, harmony by insistent cacophony."-Jim Rooney writing to the festival board.
Even the casual Dylan fan knows about his epochal performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. It's been enshrined as a part of the Dylan mythology and the narrative of the 60s. The subtitle oversells it as "the night that split the sixties." Even though it's been frequently told, some details remain unclear. We know that Dylan played backed by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and that the audience was unaccustomed to rock played at full volume, but was their confusion because of the music itself or because, as many have insisted, the sound was muddy? The other piece is that Pete Seeger, the symbol of the leftist, old guard folkies was so incensed that he was going to cut the power with an ax. Elijah Ward doesn't add much to the story and, in fact, spends a lot of time rehashing Dylan's biography. It's not a bad book, I'm just not sure it's necessary given how many books about Dylan, including his own memoir, are out there. You can watch Dylan's Newport performances in the concert film "The Other Side of the Mirror."


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