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When Dylan went electric

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

  1. elihu

    elihu Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've been listening to the first 6 Dylan albums and reading a lot of interviews lately. And I think that Dylan went electric because he didn't want to be the conscious of a particular group of people. He just didn't want the responsibility. His third album (The Times They Are A-Changing) was loaded with social commentary songs...so much so that the folky/left group of Seeger and Co claimed him as their own. Bob didn't want other people speaking for him and he didn't want to be pigeonholed. See, Bob played in a rock and roll band back in Minnesota before moving to the Big Apple. Like most of us Bob got his start playing music in a rock and roll band. But he got into folk music because of the greater lyrical content. "The thing about rock and roll is that for me anyway it wasn't enough...the songs weren't serious or didn't reflect life in a realistic way. I knew that when I got into folk music, it was more of a serious type of thing. The songs are filled with more despair, more sadness, more triumph, more faith in the supernatural, much deeper feelings." Bob is first a lyricist then a musician so folk music at the time played right into his strength as a writer. But when his success landed him in the front of a certain political parade he bailed. Bob also figured out that the genre of rock music could encompass intelligent lyrics and still rock...like Highway 61 Revisited. So he could have his cake and eat it too.
     
  2. Truck Stop

    Truck Stop TDPRI Member

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  3. Truck Stop

    Truck Stop TDPRI Member

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    Agreed. I also think it was an age thing. I got into Dylan in 1965 thanks to 'Times', 'Subterranean...' and 'Like A Rolling Stone'. All Top 10 hits in the UK. So, no problem with the acoustic v. electric debate. For older, less pop-orientated people with the folk ethic it may have been different.
     
  4. Dave Hicks

    Dave Hicks Friend of Leo's

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    I couldn't write a book about it, but Elijah Wald did:

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Andy B

    Andy B Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    In the mid seventies my wife & I moved to Denver. Shortly thereafter we met a guitar playing neighbor who introduced us to the Denver Freinds of Folk Music. Real folk purists who would meet monthly & rehash their 50's & early 60's folk music. There was a line in the sand which was never crossed as far as what music was acceptable. Well I was always on the wrong side of that line especially when we hosted them & I played my Tele since we only had one acoustic at the time. Whenever it was our turn to play we would play mostly blues or the folk rock of the day. However there was the time we played an unplugged version of this new song we'd learned: Freebird. They liked it until they realized it was more of that despised rock & roll. Our friend Eric played what these days would be considered Americana, but he could provide musical accompaniment for "Puff" etc. That made him acceptable. These were the people who couldn't understand Dylan & refused to accept that the time were indeed changing.
    Michael Bloomfield's playing was a big influence on me back in the day & I still listen to him these days. Same with Jimi. Best of all is Jimi doing Michael on Like a Rolling Stone.
     
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  6. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Telefied Ad Free Member

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    "Went electric"


    As with most things - it's more grey than black and white.

    I've always maintained he "went electric" before he went electric...

    Waaaaaaay different than the majority of everything he did before and waaaaaay less meaningful to the folkies who hung on his every previous word.


     
  7. ac15

    ac15 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    There is a great book about music industry corruption called "The Mansion on the Hill." They explain all of the social reasons why Dylan going electric was an outrage. I got it at the time, but I read it a long time ago and can't clearly recall the explanation. I think it was something along the lines of folkies at that time being considered anti-establishment, while pop was firmly establishment. Sort of like having long hair versus short hair in the 60's. It actually meant something. So there was a lot of subtext to going electric.
     
  8. ac15

    ac15 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Actually it was just the opposite. It was considered selling out.
     
  9. stretford

    stretford TDPRI Member

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    I've never heard anyone say that before and I never even considered it was the reason, but you might just be right.
     
  10. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    If he remained a “pure” folk artist his career would likely have been very different. It’s not as if we spend any time discussing those who did, many of whom are wonderful song writers and performers.
     
  11. lammie200

    lammie200 Friend of Leo's

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    I think that he went electric because he wanted to get laid. He was a young man who could see things changing all around him. He didn't want to be left behind. I don't blame him.
     
  12. rad1

    rad1 Tele-Afflicted

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    I can't speak for what folks were thinking back then. However, Dylan had more than one period in his career where he lost me.

    He is a tremendous talent but he did make some strange musical turns for periods of time.
     
  13. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

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    He was rebelling against anti-establishment. :) Though I think that calling it "rebelling" is damning him with faint praise.
     
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  14. ac15

    ac15 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I know you're joking, but it is funny how throughout his entire career people have found meaning where there often is none.

    Not all of his lyrics are nonsensical, but many are. Because it's Dylan, people ascribe meaning to them even though he probably dashed many of them off without thinking.

    It is not implausible that people would actually think he was a step ahead of everyone else by "rebelling against the anti-establishment", when in reality he just liked playing electric guitar.

    On his deathbed, maybe Dylan will finally admit that many of his lyrics are complete nonsense, and he was bamboozling us all along.
     
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  15. cowboytwang

    cowboytwang Poster Extraordinaire

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    Someone here on TDPRI must have loved Dylan going electric because they moved the thread to "Music to your ears", instead of it being about the social ramification of him plugging in.
     
  16. Uncle Bob

    Uncle Bob Tele-Holic

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    After reading "The Mayor of MacDougal Street" about Dave VanRonk I spent a day listening to folk music on youtube. Very little of it was like "Puff the Magic Dragon" etc, and the players could really get with it.
     
  17. t guitar floyd

    t guitar floyd Tele-Holic

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    I had similar experiences in the mid to late '60s in Oklahoma. After my Rock & Roll band broke up I started playing an acoustic guitar and meeting other acoustic players, most of whom were from the Folk Music camp. It was looked down upon to actually know music or be considered "professional" in any way, as Folk was supposed to be a traditional, "handed down from generations on the back porch" type of learning. I was into acoustic primarily due to Dylan, The Byrds, Beatles, Buffalo Springfield and other Folk-Rockers . . . but I also played some Gordon Lightfoot. and was marginally accepted into "Folk Society". :cool: :)

    There was big consternation at the time Dylan went electric among my acquaintances and there is an in depth article in a '65 or '66 issue of "Sing Out" magazine about the Newport Fest, where Pete Seger started screaming, grabbed an axe and went for the power cables to chop them and Albert Grossman tackled him and they rolled around on the ground fighting and wrestling before some people backstage could pull them apart! Emotions ran high indeed back in the day. :eek: :)
     
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  18. archiemax

    archiemax Tele-Meister

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    Highly recommend the Elijah Wald book "Dylan Goes Electric" as mentioned by Dave Hicks. A very well-written and well-documented chronicle of the folk music scene before, during, and after Newport.
     
  19. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I'm not sure what you're trying to say unless it's that you thought Peter Paul & Mary were the standard for Folk Music.
     
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  20. cboutilier

    cboutilier Tele-Afflicted

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    Robbie Robertson also covers that era extensively in his memoir. Very good read I must add.
     
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