chapter 6 - Chapter Six The 1960's(Part II Bob Dylan and...

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Chapter Six: The 1960's (Part II) Bob Dylan and Urban Folk Music Urban folk music had reached the popular mainstream through the success of the Weavers, who had placed several songs in the top 40 during the early 1950s. In the late 1950s the Kingston Trio had several commercially successful LP albums and a hit with “Tom Dooley,” which was an adaptation of an old folk ballad. By the early 1960s the folk music movement was burgeoning, fueled by the interest of the baby boomers, who were reaching college age and becoming more socially aware and politically active. In 1962 the Kingston Trio scored a pop hit with the anti-war song “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” by Pete Seeger. Protest songs were nothing new of course; from the very beginning, as evinced by the songs of Woody Guthrie, folk music had been an instrument of social and political commentary. Yet urban folk music had always followed its own path and eschewed the popular mainstream, in particular rock ‘n’ roll; “folkies” looked down their noses at dancing and electric guitars, both of which were of course at the heart of rock ‘n’ roll. Bob Dylan (born Robert Zimmerman in 1941) would change all of this. Dylan started as a singer-songwriter on the New York City folk scene, which was centered downtown in Greenwich Village. From the beginning, his highly original style of songwriting and vocal performance set him apart from his contemporaries, which included such singer- songwriters as Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Phil Ochs, and Tom Paxton. Dylan’s style was much more rough and aggressive than the other folk performers, who tended to be either polished and pop-friendly, as in the case of Peter, Paul, and Mary, or sweetly lyrical as in the case of Judy Collins and Joan Baez. Because of this he wasn’t at first marketable as a performer to the broader pop audience; his early songs reached the mainstream as cover versions by other artists. In 1963 “Blowin’ in the Wind” was a #2 hit for Peter, Paul, and Mary, who released their version a few weeks after Dylan initially released the song on his second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. “Blowin’ In The Wind” remains one of the most powerful anti-war songs of all time. Bob Dylan: “Blowin’ In The Wind”; recorded 1963 In August of 1964 Dylan met with the Beatles at the Delmonico Hotel in New York while they were on tour in the United States. There was mutual admiration between the two; John Lennon was fascinated by the rough and rebellious qualities of Dylan, while Dylan admired the powerful sound of the Beatles and their overwhelming commercial success. At the meeting Dylan introduced the Beatles to marijuana; the Beatles up to that time had been, in the words of Paul McCartney, “Scotch and Coke men." The introspective quality of much of the Beatle’s music after this encounter is attributed to their newfound association with cannabis. In turn, the British rockers provided motivation for the next phase of Dylan’s musical career.
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