Once in a blue moon, an artist changes history by giving a festival audience exactly what it doesn’t want. Bob Dylan stepped on stage July 25, 1965 at the Newport Folk Festival with an electric band in tow, which many folk purists in the crowd considered a heresy. For them, Dylan’s three-song, plugged-in set represented a betrayal of everything they mistakenly thought he stood for. Witnesses have spent the last 46 years arguing about what precisely happened during those 15 minutes. Did the audience boo Dylan for going electric? Or because the sound mix was garbled? Or because his set was too brief? Does it matter?
Dylan tried to mollify the crowd by returning to the stage for an acoustic solo set, closing with a song that may have been directed at those who would have him remain musically moribund: “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”
—By Chris Neal
Photo by Diana Davis