Bob Dylan goes ELECTRIC

25 Jul

Part of the story of the marriage between folk music and rock music is right here.

On the night of Sunday, July 25 1965, Dylan’s appearance was sandwiched between Cousin Emmy and the Sea Island singers, two decidedly traditional acts.[6] The band that went on stage to back Dylan included two musicians who had played on his recently released single, “Like a Rolling Stone“: Mike Bloomfield on lead guitar and Al Kooper on organ. Two of Bloomfield’s bandmates from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band also appeared at Newport: bassist Jerome Arnold and drummer Sam Lay, along with Barry Goldberg on piano.

Footage of Dylan’s Newport performance can be seen in the documentary films Festival (1967), No Direction Home (2005) and The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan Live at the Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965 (2007). The footage begins with Dylan being introduced by Master of Ceremonies Peter Yarrow: “Ladies and gentlemen, the person that’s going to come up now has a limited amount of time … His name is Bob Dylan.” In the documentary footage, the sound of both booing and cheering can be heard a few bars into Dylan’s first song, “Maggie’s Farm“, and continues throughout his second, “Like a Rolling Stone“. Dylan and his band then performed “Phantom Engineer”, an early version of “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry“, but this song was omitted from The Other Side of the Mirror DVD.

After “Phantom Engineer”, Dylan and the band left the stage. The sound of booing and clapping can be heard in the background. When Peter Yarrow returned to the microphone, he begged Dylan to continue performing. According to Robert Shelton, when Dylan returned to the stage, he discovered he did not have the right harmonica and said to Yarrow, “What are you doing to me?”[7] Dylan then asked the audience for ‘an E harmonica’. Within a few moments, a clatter of harmonicas hit the stage. He then performed two songs on acoustic guitar for the audience: “Mr. Tambourine Man“, and then, as his farewell to Newport, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue“. The crowd exploded with applause at the end, calling for more. Dylan did not return to the Newport festival for 37 years. In an enigmatic gesture, Dylan performed at Newport in 2002, sporting a wig and fake beard.[8]

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