Reasons that May Have Affected Dylan´s Amplified Public Performance

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Newport Folk Festival, 25th July 1965. It was the first Dylan’s amplified public performance and it was a huge controversial. The performance only lasted for 16 minutes, but remarked as the most memorable and controversial performance in the history of music. On that event, Dylan’s delivered 3 songs with electric guitar, which are Maggie’s Farm, Like a Rolling Stone and Phantom Engineer before he returned for encore with Mr. Tambourine Man and It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue simply with his guitar and an ‘E’ harmonica which he asked from the audience. The reason why the performance was very controversial is the usage of electric guitar, which is quite bizarre for folk culture at that time.


There are so many reasons that may affect Dylan’s performance on that day. One of the reasons was the incident that happened on July 24, 1956, one day before the controversial event occurs. It was almost certain that this particular incident affects how he was going to perform on the next day since the Dylan only had practice with the backing band less than 24 hours before he performed on July 25th while his performance on the 24th was just a typical performance from him. Alan Lomax the organizing committee of the Newport Folk Festival gave a rather unpleasant introduction to Paul Butterfield Blues Band because he doesn’t like the band urbanity and their amplification.

However, the band was well received by the listener. This very incident is believed to pissed Alex Grossman, who is Dylan’s manager, Butterfield Band’s manager and Dylan as well. With this incident, Dylan asked a band to back his performance on the next day. The confrontation arises between Lomax and Grossman is due to the difference in the background of these two men i...

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... his song ‘Let Me Die in My Footsteps’ where it focus on the practice of fallout shelter during cold war. But later, as mentioned earlier, he found that this movement gave a little room for individual subjectivity.

Dylan also was chosen as the recipient of the Tom Paine Award. During the speech, he came out with a very offensive statement. However, he wrote an open letter to apologize for his behavior, which eventually shows that he had developed towards individualistic direction. Clearly his idea somehow contradicts with the folk movement objective.

In a nutshell, it is clear that the tension that arises between the folk movement and Bob Dylan was due to their different way interpreting the authenticity of the folk music. Dylan wants more freedom while the folk movement came up with several revivals in order to preserve the folk culture from too much diversity.

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