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The Underground Garage: Home / Radio Show / VIDEO OF THE DAY - BOB DYLAN-LIVE
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on Monday, 25 July 2011.

In honor of Bob Dylan going electric at the Newport Folk Festival 46 years ago today our "Video of the Day" is "Maggie's Farm".

"The Newport Folk Festival was sacred ground to the folk world.

1965 was going to be unusual because they were allowing the Paul Butterfield Blues Band to perform and although there’d actually been electric acts, it was not considered cool.

It had become an annual community with all of the attendant expectations and limitations.

Promoter George Wein and Albert Grossman, manager of Bob Dylan and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, had started it in 1959 and it was already an institution.

By 1965 Bob Dylan was the most revered songwriter in the world and just as the folk music establishment started to get used to his social commentary, topical songs they called them, like “Masters of War,” “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” and “With God On Our Side,” Dylan had moved on to more personal beat poetry style metaphor and symbolism with “Gates of Eden” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” and was about to move again.

He’d been watching the Beatles and Stones and had encouraged the Byrds to record his “Mr. Tambourine Man,” their manager Jim Dickson having thought of it, and now it was a big hit.

So Bob, having just released “Like A Rolling Stone” the day before, wants to play electric guitar with a band the final night of the festival.

This will become the Rashomon of Rock and Roll history, everybody there having a different recollection of what happened.

Bob used Mike Bloomfield, Sammy Lay, and Jerome Arnold from Butterfield’s band, and added Al Kooper and Barry Goldberg, and they learned three songs the night before.

And for the first time since his high school band 'The Golden Chords,' Bob walks out with a Stratocaster wearing a polka dot shirt and plays “Maggie’s Farm,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” and “Phantom Engineer” which would later be called “It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes A Train to Cry."

Here’s where the stories change.

Some say the crowd booed. Some say they didn’t. Some say the crowd was upset because to folk the electric guitar represented Pop music.

Some say they booed because to the socialists in the audience, which was like a lot, the electric guitar represented capitalism.

Some say they booed because Mike Bloomfield’s guitar was too loud.

And Al Kooper says if they booed at all it was because Bob was the headliner and only did three songs.

So they come off and Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul & Mary says you gotta go back in and hands him an acoustic guitar.

Bob does “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and most appropriately, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” " - Little Steven

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Comments (2)

  • Patrick OConnor

    Wow. The talk is about Dylan plugging in. What this video makes clear is that while Dylan lit the fuse, Bloomfield was the TNT. I feel safe in saying that Mike Bloomfield is the least heralded of the great figures in rock who to this day fails to get his due.

  • shoezz

    I've heard Bloomfield's work on "East-West" countless times, and it never fails to be anything but supremely astounding. Thanks for the great video post!

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