Tomorrow: 50th B-Day of Dylan going Fender Stratocaster


As Carl Wilson remarks on Slate reviewing Elijah Wald’s book Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties: “Because history is told by the victors, rock lore holds up the Newport tale as the fierce nonconformist standing up to the timid crowd, but on a deeper level it was one nonconformity against another, a dispute about what it meant to rebel.” And the famous myth about Dylan being booed, bottles thrown on stage, Pete Seeger supposedly asking for an axe to cut the cables, etc. seem to be just that: myth, i.e. one way of telling the story. As Wilson sums up Wald’s version: “Far from being driven from the stage, for instance, Dylan and band actually overstayed their allotted time, the closing-night showcase having been programmed to maximize diversity (and minimize idolatry) by granting tight 15-minute slots. Dylan was in the middle of the bill. There definitely was booing, but the most vociferous was about the shortness of the set. Others were responding to the uneven sound mix; only a minority were folk fundamentalists. (Still, since Dylan had never been received with anything but rapture at Newport, even a scrap of real hostility was news.) Also, nothing seems to have been thrown at the stage except in the solo acoustic encore, when Dylan asked for “an E harmonica” and a tinny rain of mouth harps clattered to the floor beside him.”

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