Dylan Goes Electric!: Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties (Hardcover)
One of the music world’s pre-eminent critics takes a fresh and much-needed look at the day Dylan “went electric” at the Newport Folk Festival, timed to coincide with the event’s fiftieth anniversary.
On the evening of July 25, 1965, Bob Dylan took the stage at Newport Folk Festival, backed by an electric band, and roared into his new rock hit, Like a Rolling Stone. The audience of committed folk purists and political activists who had hailed him as their acoustic prophet reacted with a mix of shock, booing, and scattered cheers. It was the shot heard round the world—Dylan’s declaration of musical independence, the end of the folk revival, and the birth of rock as the voice of a generation—and one of the defining moments in twentieth-century music.
In Dylan Goes Electric!, Elijah Wald explores the cultural, political and historical context of this seminal event that embodies the transformative decade that was the sixties. Wald delves deep into the folk revival, the rise of rock, and the tensions between traditional and groundbreaking music to provide new insights into Dylan’s artistic evolution, his special affinity to blues, his complex relationship to the folk establishment and his sometime mentor Pete Seeger, and the ways he reshaped popular music forever. Breaking new ground on a story we think we know, Dylan Goes Electric! is a thoughtful, sharp appraisal of the controversial event at Newport and a nuanced, provocative, analysis of why it matters.
“Provides a deeply researched and entertaining chronicle of the culture clash that Dylan sparked from the Newport stage.”
“It is a great work of scholarship, brimming with insight – among the best music books I have ever read.”
“Wald contextualizes the deeply divisive event in illuminating detail . . . a major contribution to modern musical history.”
“Wald is a superb analyst of the events he describes. And his analyses fly in the face of conventional wisdom. Even his introduction includes enough startling context to indicate ‘Dylan Goes Electric!’ will be seeing the old story with new eyes.”
“Wald’s personal knowledge seems encyclopedic . . . An enjoyable slice of 20th-century music journalism.”
“Anyone interested in Dylan, folk music, or rock and roll will adore this volume. It might not resolve the questions of what really happened in Newport in 1965, but it comes very close.”
“In this tour de force, Elijah Wald complicates the stick-figure myth of generational succession at Newport by doing justice to what he rightly calls Bob Dylan’s ‘declaration of independence’ . . . This is one of the very best accounts I’ve read of musicians fighting for their honor.”
“What Wald reveals about that most mystified of singer-songwriters and the folk and rock worlds that then surrounded and elevated him changed my own view of a moment I thought I had all figured out-and of the songwriterly 1960s as a whole.”
“Devastatingly smart analysis . . . Wald is a remarkably sharp and graceful writer, capable of drawing extraordinary connections between artists, genres, and cultural moments. There’s simply no one better when it comes to unpacking not just the mechanics of American music, but the mythology of American music.”
“Elijah Wald’s book reflects the many directions in which America’s music scene evolved in those extraordinary years, 1963-1970-I can’t recommend it enough.”
“Concise and entertaining . . . a great story, masterfully told, of how the times were, indeed, a-changin’-and why.”
“Easily the definitive account of Newport ‘65.”
“There is no shortage of books about Bob Dylan . . . but Elijah Wald’s heavily researched book manages to offer new information and unique insight into the social context of this controversial moment in music history.”