OK, so I’ve posted this landmark set before, but someone just uploaded most of it again yesterday so why not give it another listen.
This never gets old for me.
This was Bob Dylan’s first public electric performance (OK, of course he played rock ‘n’ roll as a teenager, but after he started making records as a folk singer, this was the first electric show).
This took place on Sunday, July 25, 1965.
Here’s audio for the set opener, “Maggie’s Farm”:
This clip is the audio with the exception of “Maggie’s Farm.”
0:00 – Pre-show/Intro
2:20 – Maggie’s Farm (BLOCKED – Can be seen in “The Other Side of the Mirror”)
8:07 – Like a Rolling Stone
14:39 – Phantom Engineer (It Takes a lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry)
18:00 – Intermission/Intro
22:04 – It’s all Over Now, Baby Blue
29:34 – Mr. Tambourine Man
Here’s some of the video but no audio:
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“Diamond Light Pt. 1”
“Honey Combed” (Feat. Lucius)
“New Moon” (Feat. Lucius)
“High As Hello” (Feat. Lucius)
“Low Key” (Feat. Lucius)
“Fake Fur Coat”
“I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”
“Please Tell My Brother”
“Jesus, Etc.” (Feat. Lucius)
“Wrote A Song For Everyone” (Feat. Mavis Staples and Lucius)
“Only The Lord Knows” (Feat. Mavis Staples and Lucius)
[In August of this year I’ll be publishing my rock ‘n’ roll/ coming-of-age novel, “True Love Scars,” which features a narrator who is obsessed with Bob Dylan. To read the first chapter, head here.
Or watch an arty video with audio of me reading from the novel here.
–- A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-
OK, so we know this day, 49 years ago, was historic. Bob Dylan going public with his new electric rock ‘n’ roll sound.
We all know the story. We all know the different versions of the story.
What remains amazing is the music.
On Saturday July 24, 1965 Dylan played a workshop and did three acoustic numbers. I’ve got “All I Really Want To Do” and “Love Minus Zero/ No Limit” from that workshop, and then all the songs from his evening performance on July 25, 1965.
Here Dylan rock out through “Maggie’s Farm,” “Like A Rolling Stone” and “Phantom Engineer,” an early version of “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry.”
This music will be as alive as anyone until humans are no more.
When I read that someone paid $985,000 for the Fender Stratocaster that Bob Dylan played at the Newport Folk Festival, at first it kinda made sense.
Obviously that was a historic event, a turning point in Dylan’s career, one that resulted in some of the best rock music of all time and which had a profound impact on rock ‘n’ roll, and on the world at large.
But then I began to reconsider. Why is that guitar worth that kind of money? Well, you could say, because someone was willing to pay it. And I would disagree.
I think this is an example of the Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome. Or a fetishism that mythologies objects, giving them undeserving power and value.
The guitar that sold at auction for nearly a million dollars, and which Dylan supposedly played at Newport, is a 1964 Stratocaster, so Dylan could only have owned it for at most a year and a half.
Dylan’s lawyer, Orin Snyder, recently denied it was the guitar played at Newport.
“Bob has possession of the electric guitar he played at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965,” Snyder said in a statement he provided Rolling Stone. “He did own several other Stratocaster guitars that were stolen from him around that time, as were some handwritten lyrics.”
However vintage-instrument expert Andy Babiuk told Rolling Stone he’s confident it’s the guitar. He was convinced after PBS asked him to compare it to close-up color photos from Newport. “The more I looked, the more they matched,” Babiuk told Rolling Stone. “The rosewood fingerboard has distinct lighter strips. Wood grain is like a fingerprint. I’m 99.9 percent sure it’s the guitar — my credibility is on the line here.”
Babiuk has previously authenticated numerous guitars including a John Lennon Gretsch 6120 that’s been on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and a Bob Dylan Hummingbird used by Dylan at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration.
So let’s assume the Strat sold at auction was the guitar played at Newport. It turns out that Dylan had a bunch of electric guitars he used at the time. There are pictures of Dylan playing a Fender Jazzmaster, both in the studio and on stage. In Bob Spitz’s book “Dylan An Autobiography,” he describes Dylan walking into Columbia Studio A on June 15, 1965 and plugging in a Fender Telecaster for a run through of “Like A Rolling Stone” before recording began.
So we can safely say that Dylan had at least six electric guitars he was using at the time of the Newport gig. There’s a reason Dylan had so many Fender guitars. Columbia Records owned Fender at that time, and so Dylan would have had easy access to the company’s guitars, and the company was surely happy to have their guitars associated with Dylan.
What can make a guitar really valuable? Well, if a musician uses it to compose songs that become classics. The guitar Neil Young used to write “Heart of Gold,” for instance, would be of some value, but if Neil Young had one acoustic guitar that he used from say 1964 through 1974 to write all his songs, that guitar would really be worth a lot. Neil Young himself might feel that particular guitar was key to his songwriting.
Some musicians customize their guitar, or buy a vintage guitar that’s been played for years and has a unique sound that they can’t get from just any guitar. Neil Young, for example, feels that way about Old Black, a 1953 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop that he’s had seriously customized.
But of course that isn’t the case with the off-the-shelf, year-and-a-half old Strat Dylan played that night.
Does the fact that Dylan played a Strat at Newport really mean anything? He could have easily played the Jazzmaster or a Telecaster instead, as he did at Forest Hills Stadium two and a half months later. Would those guitars be worth a million?
It would seem that simply because that was the guitar Dylan happened to play that historic night, it’s worth a fortune, and not because the guitar added anything to the performance. Well then what of the black boots Dylan wore? Or his black leather jacket? How about his shirt? A million dollars?
It’s not the guitar Dylan happened to play that matters, it’s that Bob Dylan turned his back on the rigid rules mandated by the folk music establishment and made a big statement by going electric and playing rock ‘n’ roll. It’s all about Bob Dylan, not whatever guitar he happened to play. In fact, he could have played any electric guitar.
According to Rolling Stone, Dawn Peterson, who is apparently the one who put the guitar up for auction, got it from her father, Victor Quinto, a private pilot who worked for Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, in the mid-1960s.
“After one flight, my father saw there were three guitars left on the plane,” she told Rolling Stone. “He contacted the company a few times about picking the guitars up, but nobody ever got back to him.”
It would seem, then, that those guitars were not that important. Dylan had lots of guitars. He clearly wasn’t attached to that guitar. It wasn’t a special guitar. He didn’t need that guitar to write great songs, or perform onstage. It was just a guitar he’d gotten the year before that he happened to play during his first electric gig.
Is it worth a million dollars?
As has been said before, there’s a sucker born every day.
“Like A Rolling Stone” at Newport Folk Festival, 1965:
The sunburst Fender Stratocaster that Bob Dylan played when he went electric at 1965’s Newport Folk Festival and angered fans with a three song rock set that began with a noisy “Maggie’s Farm,” was auctioned at Christie’s on Friday for $965,000, according to the auction house’s website.
The buyer actually had to pay $985,000, which includes what’s called a “buyer’s premium,” in this case $20,000 that goes to the auctioneer — not the seller — to cover administrative expenses.
In total the buyer paid $985,000 to own the guitar once played by Bob Dylan.
Bob Dylan played a Fender Stratocaster guitar when he went electric at the Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965. It was a big deal. People booed.
Backing Dylan were Michael Bloomfield of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band on lead guitar and Al Kooper on organ, both of whom had played on “Like A Rolling Stone.” Also in Dylan’s band were bassist Jerome Arnold, drummer Sam Lay of the Butterfield Band, and Barry Goldberg on piano.
They played three rock ‘n’ roll songs with his electric band: “Maggie’s Farm,” “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Phantom Engineer” (an early version of “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”).
Now the guitar that Dylan played at Newport will be auctioned in New York at Christie’s on December 6th. The guitar is expected to sell for around a half million dollars. Five sheets of handwritten and typed fragments of lyrics that would later appear in “In the Darkness of Your Room,” “Absolutely Sweet Marie” and other songs will also be auctioned, according to Rolling Stone. The lyrics, found in the Strat case, could sell for between $3000 and $5000.