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When Dylan went electric

Discussion in 'Music to Your Ears' started by Larry F, Mar 27, 2017.

  1. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Considering this an event that played out from Newport to London, I wonder about the reception of this. I watched a video recently that had the Judas incident featured (I forget how much was actually captured on film and/or audio only). During interviews with protesting fans outside the venues of that tour, someone made the comparison to what I think were the cheesy guitar groups of the early 60s in England, with the singers with strange names. Well, if THAT'S the objection to going electric, fearing that he would start sounding like that, then I'd object, too.

    Is that similar to what made Pete Seeger and Alan Lomax so bent out of shape? Or were they afraid of a more bluesy-rockandroll sound that they conjured up in their imaginations?
     
  2. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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    He wasn't living up to the image of him that the fans had built up in their head. When he played Toronto much later with The Band, the newspaper reviewer complained that he was "distant from his audience" because he wore sunglasses.
     
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  3. The Blood

    The Blood Tele-Meister

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    As with many aspects of history, you have to look closely at the context to really understand the dynamics.
    As a listener of radio in the early 60's I can tell you that Dylan was an astonishing change to the landscape when he came out. There was nobody playing acoustic as a soloist and singing their own material with any thing like the success he was having. Everyone's head was turned and bands like the beatles suddenly had songs with Dylan influence, clearly. The movie about his tour in England in the early 60's depicts the press of the day in a frenzy trying to get a handle on what he was doing and why it was having such an impact.
    Additionally, in those days, there wasn't any blending of acoustic with electric. You were one or the other. The sense of going to the other side was palpable.


    From his standpoint, after several years of being on top and receiving constant adoration, he got sick of it and wanted to change the scenery, basically, and the tele seemed like a fun new direction just like it happened for the characters on this forum.
     
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  4. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Do you think many people thought that his going electric was a sign that he was going to go bubblegum? I'm the same age as The Blood, but I don't remember the electric event when it happened. I only have reports, many, many reports. And the reports that I have read in countless books and articles, all seem to take Dylan's change to electric as a bold, daring move. I don't recall reading anything that discusses whether Dylan was selling out, going commercial, going pop, or becoming simplistic and going for the lowest common denominator.
     
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  5. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I wasn’t at an age where I was paying attention to Folk Music when this happened but in retrospect it merely demonstrates that the some of folk music crowd in the mid sixties were just as silly as we can be today.

    I do remember that Like a Rolling Stone was a huge hit on AM radio. That was my introduction to Bob Dylan and Highway 61 Revisited was among the first 5 albums I ever bought.
     
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  6. Hippieway

    Hippieway Tele-Holic

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    I remember the fuss about Dylan and at the time I didn't get it. I wasn't the biggest Dylan fan but I was a fan of the rock & roll being played. When Dylan went electric, I didn't feel the heresy, I didn't understand the folk movement or that Dylan, their young champion, was betraying the movement.
    I hope we are past caring more about what instrument is picked, than what comes out of it.
     
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  7. Jack S

    Jack S Friend of Leo's

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    I remember it well. My parents, but more so their friends who were into folk music were very upset when he went electric. There was (and still is to some extent) in the folk scene a hardcore adherence to a predefined disdain for "pop" music and especially rock and roll, even when some of them were making some of the "pop" music of the era. He had the gall to pull out electric instruments at a folk festival!

    Dylan's attitude has been consistent throughout his career in that every time he felt pigeonholed by critics and other musicians he took a left turn. Furthermore, he always liked rock and roll and folk music came to him later because he was immersed into it when he moved to the East Village in New York.

    Look at record after record that came out once he went electric. The styles kept changing because he refused to be pigeonholed. At one point he came out with Self Portrait which was probably his least respected record of his career. It was largely cover songs completely obscuring what was his current popular image of the time, yet he called it Self Portrait. Once again, an FU to the world. Breaking rules and obscuring traditions is what a true artist does.
     
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  8. neckradius

    neckradius Tele-Holic

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    I know its a spoof and a comedy, but I think the movie A Mighty Wind explains a lot of it. The movie spoofs a certain overly serious lover of a certain type of folk music that is actually kind of bland and boring (though there's plenty of good there too). Well, those people claimed Dylan as one of theirs, and he was, except he was much better than the rest of the genre so he wasn't one of them, and when he went electric he was telling them no, I'm not one of you, I'm more.
     
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  9. Bellacaster

    Bellacaster Tele-Afflicted

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    I think that hardcore folk enthusiasts of the time were afraid that he wasn't going to make 'serious' music anymore. I.E. anything with an electric guitar wasn't to be taken seriously.
     
  10. bsman

    bsman Friend of Leo's

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    You're letting your tele-affiliation cloud your recollection. Unfortunately, it was a strat. Had he slung a tele, I think the response would have been much more muted... ;)

    [​IMG]
     
  11. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I think that's the nut right there. And people don't always respond well to sudden change.




    P.S. Dylan is mine. :cool:
     
  12. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    1965 also yielded, Eve of Destruction, The Byrds cover of Mr. Tambourine Man and I Got You Babe, plus a lot of other great stuff. The battle was already over.
     
  13. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    Clearly, people have trouble identifying how limiting their expectations/dogmas can be. Ol' Dewey ran into the same thing going PRE-electric and pseudo-profound:

    And while Bob did use a Strat at the Newport Folk Festival episode that enraged the purists, he did play a Tele a lot on his '65 and '66 tours:
    dylan-robertson-concert.jpg
    He definitely has a strong contrarian streak. But also an encyclopedic adventurousness. He wanted to do different stuff, did, and flung it at people's faces when they spit. He's bold, but also clings to sores at what he thinks is unjust criticism. There's a lot of angry defensiveness even in his dismissiveness of critics in a lot of his interviews. Check out this latest one in which even such a genius totally misses how "American Pie" calling him "The Jester" is a great compliment, not an insult:
    https://bobdylan.com/news/qa-with-bill-flanagan/ (About 4/5ths of the way down.)

    Unless, of course, he's pulling our leg (again).

    Among his many at-his-best's, to me, is when he beautifully blends acoustic and electric: the snarky Tele on "Visions of Johanna," that gorgeously dry and reverbed bass on "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" and "Blood on the Tracks," the scorching Tele on the Greatest Hits version of "Dignity," etc.
     
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  14. Ash

    Ash Tele-Meister

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    I think a lot of the objection from folkies wasn't so much that he went electric as it was his songwriting and lyrics shifted away from the protest songs to more personal, introspective lyrics. Dylan made it clear he was sick of writing and singing "finger pointing songs" as he called them, he was fed up with being the icon of the lefty protest counter-culture, he wasn't going to "work on Maggie's farm no more" and began writing more personal songs. "My Back Pages" is another great song from him that shows this transition quite well. He was maturing away from the angry young man and into a more reflective, more philosophical lyricist, and that bothered his hardcore fans. The electric guitar was just the straw breaking the camel's back.
     
  15. Frank'n'censed

    Frank'n'censed Doctor of Teleocity

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    Wadaya mean, by characters? :lol:
     
  16. flathd

    flathd Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes, that's Dylan strumming on his Strat, but the lead guitar was Mike Bloomfield's Telecaster.

    mike bloomfield Tele.jpg
     
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  17. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Robbie says when he first started hanging/playing with Bob, he was using a Strat with light gauge strings and was constantly out of tune.

    Robbie told him a Tele stayed in tune better because of the more stable bridge and that he was a rhythm player so he should use heavier strings.

    They were in the Columbia studios and because Columbia was CBS (owner of Fender) Bob summoned an assistant and told her he needed a Tele and then he asked Robbie what color ?

    Robbie said that they usually came in kind of a cream color but that black/white would probably look cool.

    So that was one of the '66 tour guitars.
     
  18. Gibsonsmu

    Gibsonsmu Tele-Holic

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    I guess it's kind of funny when you think that being a rebel back then meant playing a show with a strat instead of an acoustic. The madness!!!
     
  19. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Does anyone seriously think Bob Dylan would still be around if he was still doing this stuff today? I had a friend of mine who gave me some of his stuff back in around 1965. I listened to it and thought, WHAT? You couldn't dance to it, you couldn't drink to it, and you couldn't hardly listen to it. I didn't like him much at all until I saw him in Billy the Kid with Kris Kristofferson, and then maybe just barely. The movie was so bad I'm surprised both Bob and Kris survived it.

    Though it's uncool to be so, I'm just not now, nor ever have been a Bob Dylan fan, but i think it's perfectly okay to be one if that's your thing. I actually know almost nothing about him or his career, since I was afraid he might see me standing in a crowd, and grab me and hold me hostage, and put me in a remake of "Billy the Kid." I'm much too old to play Billy, but I think I could play Kris.

     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
  20. Throttleneck

    Throttleneck Tele-Afflicted

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    This is my take on it. I was a wee nubin at the time but I remember the commotion. I think in some ways Folk was the more conservative of the styles (Rock vs Folk). By that I mean there were more rules about what was folk, what wasn't folk. Who qualified - who didn't. They took themselves seriously. And they felt that it was a force that would bring change to the world. They saw themselves as a bit more intellectual. Not like those crazy rock and roll kids.

    Rock was more reckless - more wild in the streets. Anything goes. They were trying to change the world but were more: break the rules not follow them.

    And folk was not as big. There was a large following to be sure, but rock ruled. And the folk people were kind of ok with that because - they were serious music.

    And then one of their own made it big. Was huge. Was groundbreaking in terms popularity.

    And then he went over to the dark side. To use an electric guitar was to violate the rules of Folk music. And he didn't just use an electric guitar. He really started making rock music.

    They were betrayed by not only one of their own, but by the biggest star in the their pantheon.

    Judas!!!!!! :)
     
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