Dylan Goes Electric

On this day in 1965 Bob went electric at the Newport folk festival. The legend says he was booed off stage, and that Pete Seeger wanted to cut the feed to the PA with an ax. It was a sign that in fact “The Times They Are A-Changin;” Dylan won’t be tied down or limited by genre or form. He would go on to receive death threats, and create some of the greatest songs ever before burning out in 1966 (and having a serious motorcycle accident). Another crucial day in music history.

Recommended Listening: Dylan live in 1966 at the “Royal Albert Hall.” The Judas show, really at the Manchester Free Trade Hall, and really one extended session of genius.

My dad used to play Kelly Joe Phelps’ record “Shine Eyed Mister Zen” a good deal when I was in my formative years of realizing what music actually was and, like the other artists I heard then, I’ve never stopped listening. If I could I would sing and play like Phelps, with that smokey voice and a beautiful fluid versatility on slide that is only rivaled by Ry Cooder. This number, many of my readers may know, is a cover of an old Leadbelly song. It’s also a devastatingly beautiful song–back in the days when I had a radio show I closed my first and last shows with this song. Unfortunately, being a cover, this song fails to show you that KJP is also a poet with masterful lyrics. I suppose you’ll have to look him up and buy one or two of his albums to see for yourself. Start out buying “Shine Eyed Mister Zen,” it’s not his first album, and you can go back for “Lead Me On” later, but that’s the way I heard it and the way I still love it. If you think the blues is dead, you’re dead wrong.

I’m still feeling the tremorous after effects of last night. You see, in the wee hours of last night / this morning our caravan headed south to retrieve a valued envoy from the airport. At around 3 am we were headed north bound. The sky began to lighten around 4. We arrived at our safe house around 4:30. The fridge was full. Beer. Lots of it. And some good cheese, that’s an irrelevant detail. Last night wrapped itself until about 11 am. It’s a bit fuzzy, perhaps it’s the alcohol, perhaps I sustained a concussion during one of the 4 drunken grappling sessions which I was consecutively subjected to. There was lots of singing. Screaming of the old anthems, and some new. There was a lot of whiskey slugging. As I write this my voice is just whistles and gasps. Perhaps we took it a tad too far. Perhaps this is just a beginning of a massive decent into rock ‘n’ roll again. This is what youth should be. This is the return of the fiery days of the Wulfemen. As the Clash say, we’re a garage band. We live in garage land. Welcome home, comrade. Hawwwooooooooooo!!!