Friday, July 25, 2008

Bob "Electrified" Dylan booed off stage 43 yrs ago.

It was 43 yrs ago (1965) Dylan opened a brief three-song electric set w/ "Maggie", left the stage amidst boos & then returned to perform two signature folk songs.

1 comment:

Per Gynt said...

I'm not too good with dates especially blind dates, but I clearly remember the night Dylan sang with electricity at Forest Hills in New York. He was at Newport the previous month - August 65 maybe?. I was there too but don't remember seeing him. Anyway we were used to seeing the Kingston Trio and Joan Baez at Forest Hills, ("The Westside Tennis Club" to the cogniscenti). The first half was fine, acoustic, sing along "The times they r' a changin."

(Hear voice of Robbie R): "So after the intermission, Bob comes on stage with the Band; we plug in and rip into Maggie's Farm or something like that and...."

To me, a white boy with a crew cut, a five-string banjo and a girlfriend going to Stanford, this was anarchy. They started booing before the music began. The guitars were amped up so much Dylan & the Band seemed to be nuking the audience, and the peasants were throwing - what were they throwing? Cups, trash, some kind on missiles made from 60's junk food. Throwing stuff wasn't enough for the zealots; they started charging the stage. Now imagine (voice of RR again) these kids racing across GRASS TENNIS COURTS, which is what the surface of the stadium was, kicking up divets, diving into the band or The Band and tackling anybody they could find (John Simon, where were you?). It was wild, it was pre-Nam. The Band and Dylan unplugged and ran, leaving miscellaneous pieces of auctionable instruments behind. Now everyone was screaming, angry that the music was electric or angry that the music had stopped - probably both. 12,000 of the anointed screaming, and cops running around tackling the tacklers. The stadium was quickly a mess. Chairs overturned, junk like at the end of a 15 inning baseball game, cops milling around with black billy clubs and Dragnet-style caps, and the 12,000 shouting at each other. "What? That's it? They quit? Those lousy m.....rf.....rs"

For us tickets cost a lot of money. "We wuz robbed", Brooklyn Dodger fans used to whine, but tonight in Queens we really were robbed. People wandered around and wandered away, angry and frustrated. This wasn't like a Kingston Trio concert, this was scary. I didn't know what this meant - it wasn't planned, it was wild. It wasn't entertainment, it was a confrontation. I wanted to forget it all, find my Dad's car and get home quickly.

As much as I was trying to forget then, I try to remember now. Ironic, isn't it?