M5D1: Bob Dylan and the Folk Scene

Your textbook (see reference below) goes into detail about Dylans shift away from traditional folk music that was in the mold of Woodie Guthrie and Pete Seeger (a great supporter of Dylans) by adding electric instruments and drums to his recordings. Folk musicians were angered by Dylans use of electric instruments. Dylan, in turn, showed his disappointment with his friends and supporters in folk music by severing ties with the folk community. For this activity, you will explore the musical aftershock of Dylans decision to go electric.

Listen to a few Dylan songs below, or listen to them on the Spotify playlist (https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0zpxlY4TQgSx0VgKIMxjcV). Do you feel the traditional folkies response was justified? Can a folk artist be electric? Do you feel Dylans response was equally justified? Who, in your opinion, betrayed whom? Discuss these questions with your classmates. Then, respond to at least two of your peers and identify whether or not you agree with their interpretation of Dylans decision to pug in and “go electric.

Songs by Bob Dylan

The Times They Are A-Changin) (from the album The Times They Are A-Changin, 1964)   https://youtu.be/90WD_ats6eE
This represents the we style of folk music that Covach discusses

Mr. Tambourine Man (from the album Bringing It All Back Home, 1965)   http://youtu.be/OeP4FFr88SQ
One of Dylans classics performed live at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964 (a year before the controversy). Thats Pete Seeger introducing him.

Subterranean Homesick Blues (from the album Bringing It All Back Home, 1965)   https://youtu.be/MGxjIBEZvx0
This song is an example of Dylans me style of folk that angered a lot of folkies. Interestingly, this song is one of the handful of electric songs that appeared on the Bringing It All Back Home album, but there didnt seem to be any grumblings about Dylans electric style at this point. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest music videos ever made.

“Like A Rolling Stone”(from the album Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)   https://youtu.be/IwOfCgkyEj0
This is one of the songs that started all the controversy! Here is Dylan performing his song with an electric band.

“Maggies Farm” (from the album Bringing It All Back Home, 1965)   https://youtu.be/G8yU8wk67gY

When Dylan Opened his first electric set at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, this is the song he opened with. Listen to the crowd’s reaction at the end of the song.

To give you an idea of how he altered the song for the Newport concert, here’s the album version of “Maggie’s Farm”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgphPFNiVZw&feature=youtu.be.

Spotify playlist (https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0zpxlY4TQgSx0VgKIMxjcV) with all of the above songs.

Reference (Text Book – Chapter 5):

Covach, J. R., & Flory, A. (2018). What’sthat sound?: an introduction to rock and its history. NewYork.: WW Norton & Company.