Dylan Went Electric

All the hoohah over the “Summer of Love” got me to going back and listening to some of my music from that era. I’m not quite old enough to remember the music when it came out, but many of the songs and popular artists of that year certainly influenced my love of music. One of the albums of that year, Dylan’s “John Wesley Harding” prompted me to also go back and listen to “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blonde on Blonde”. I realized that, for all the hype about “No Depression” being the gold standard for alt-country and Gram Parsons essentially inventing the genre with the Byrds in “Sweetheart of the Rodeo”, neither of them were first. I think we can thank Bob Dylan for giving us alternative country.

In the summer of 1965, he released “Highway 61 Revisited”. The first song is Like a Rolling Stone. Although it has the Dylanesque wail that’s so familiar, it catapults this album out of the folk meadow with a bang. Future guitar god Michael Bloomfield adds a touch of raw power that had nothing to do with strumming chords or vocal harmonies. Then, a few weeks later, Bob goes electric at Newport amidst howls of despair from his acoustic fans. That’s really the essence of alt-country; the mash-up of power chords and guitar solos with the lyrics and passion already so evident in folk and country.

But that’s just one man’s opinion.

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