Changing Musical Style of Bob Term Paper

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He, therefore, continued experimenting with new musical style, and his 1964 album, Another Side of Bob Dylan hinted at the things to come. The album was categorized a "folk album" only because Dylan had not yet decided to go electric and continued to use an acoustic arrangement for his songs. As for the content of his songs on Another Side, they had already veered away from the political protest of folk. The album started with the light-hearted and personal "All I Really Want to do" and ended rather significantly with "It Ain't Me" -- Dylan pointedly saying adieu to his folk audience. The album's departure from folk traditions was a prelude to a more dramatic change in Dylan's musical style that was to be unveiled in the following year.

Dylan goes Electric

The year 1965 was the start of perhaps the most concentrated, magical, and impressive two-year period of creative musical innovation in the history of rock music. Dylan, of course, was at the center of this musical revolution. It all started in March 1965 when Dylan released his first half-electric album (Bring it All back Home) that featured him accompanied by a full-fledged back-up band on side 1 of the LP. There was immediate reaction from the folkies who dubbed their former hero as a political sell-out and warned him not to turn into "a different Bob Dylan than the one we knew," (quote from Sing Out! By Wilentz). Dylan's reaction was typically defiant. At the Newport Folk Festival in July, 1965 he decided to go electric before a live audience. It was sheer audacity on his part, considering the fact that the audience had come to hear pure folk music. That Sunday night of July 25, 1965 when Dylan walked onstage in an orange shirt and black leather, carrying an electric guitar accompanied by his hastily gathered band and swung into a rocking electric version of "Maggie's Farm" has entered into the folklore of rock music. The folk purist audience was stunned and then started to heckle and shouted: "Play folk music!... Sell out!... This is a folk festival!" (Shelton, 302); backstage, Pete Seeger was so incensed that he threatened to cut off the electric wires; some of the audience, however, was exhilarated by the high-voltage rock.

Dylan had now "crossed the rubric" and his confrontation with the folk purists continued over the next year. It reached a climax at a concert at Manchester in 1966 when a hostile audience confronted Dylan and his band with slow handclap and a hostile member of the audience shouted, "Judas!" To which Dylan responded with "I don't believe you" and proceeded to give a sneering, high powered rendition of "Like a Rolling Stone." The next one-year saw Dylan reach the pinnacle of his art with the release of "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blonde on Blonde" -- two of the greatest rock albums ever recorded.


Bob Dylan's transformation from a folk singer known and worshipped for his finger-pointing protest songs into a rock artist who created his own genre of music has been an epochal event in contemporary music history. It is hard to think of any single event in the history of popular music that exceeds the importance of the event.

Works Cited

Hentoff, Nat. "Liner Notes for 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" Bob 1964. May 12, 2005.

Shelton, Robert. "No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan." Ballantine Books: New York, 1986

Wilentz, Sean. "Liner Notes -- Live 1964 at Philharmonic Hall." December 2003. May 12, 2005.

From the song it's All right Ma (I'm only Bleeding) from the album "Bringing it All Back home" (1965)

His last move Masked and Anonymous (2004) was pilloried by the critics and ran briefly in the theaters

Dylan's autobiography, Chronicles Vol. 1, purportedly the first part of a three-part series, was published in October 2004

It contained just two of Dylan's original songs including "Song to Woody."

The outburst at Newport was reminiscent of a similar event in music history: At the premiere of Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring," on May 29, 1913, at the Theatre des Champs-Elysses, the Paris audience booed…

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