Dylan Goes Electric!: Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties by Elijah WaldOne of the music world’s pre-eminent 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.
Review: Dylan Goes Electric! by Elijah Wald
The events we write about at Gaslight Records happened in some form or another 50 years ago to the day. Roll along with us and imagine you are back in July 25th marks 50 years since Bob Dylan took the stage with an electric band at the Newport Folk Festival in In that singular performance, he shook up not only the festival, but also the contemporary folk scene in America, in a way that neither would be the same again. Dylan Goes Electric is a brand new book by author and musician Elijah Wald, who has written extensively about American roots music.
Saturday night is the 50th anniversary of Dylanageddon: the night Bob Dylan savaged the Newport Folk Festival by making loud, electrified noise at a sanctuary that had never been thus sullied. The story of his assault on Newport is very well known.
you re your own worst critic
2019 can be kinda lame...
These days, it's rare for a performance by a single artist to have such cultural resonance that it becomes emblematic of an era. But Bob Dylan's epochal appearance at the Newport Folk festival backed by an electric blues band is of a different order, thanks partly to the antipathy it roused. It lasted just three songs, but became one of the moments around which music history pivots. As the legend has it, an outraged old guard personified by folk's elder statesman Pete Seeger strove to stop the show — Seeger supposedly attempting to chop through the power cables with an axe — while fans erupted in a conflicted cacophony of boos, cheers and protests against the sheer volume of the performance, as much as what it signified. But it was not simply that Dylan had transgressed the festival's acoustic bias: the intemperate reception was in part a protest that the folk scene's unrivalled laureate had turned his back on the "duty" to protest, in a style of singalong simplicity, in favour of more personal themes, tackled in a more personal language.
Elijah Wald — Dylan Goes Electric! The story of Bob Dylan's iconic electric apostasy at the Newport Folk Festival, set in the context of its turbulent times, Dylan's musical evolution, and the oft-misunderstood folk revival, personified by the oft-misunderstood Pete Seeger. On the evening of July 25, , Bob Dylan took the stage at Newport Folk Festival backed by an electric band and roared into a blistering version of "Maggie's Farm," followed by his new rock hit, "Like a Rolling Stone. Dylan Goes Electric! Based on new interviews, previously untapped sources, and untold hours of unreleased Newport tapes, it provides unexpected additions and insights to a story that has been mythologized but never seriously explored. That brief set at Newport became a stand-in for much wider rifts--it marked a divide between the early sixties of the civil rights movement, civil defense drills, the old left, and folk music and the sixties most of us remember: Vietnam, Black power, hippies, the New Left, and rock.