The live music experience is full of mythological stories. And one of my favorite tales is the infamous show where Bob Dylan “plugged in” for the first time at the Newport Folk Festival.
As we’ve explored before with one fan’s Dylan experience, the story has been told — and portrayed in movies like I’m Not There — that Dylan was booed and fights broke out backstage because he played electric and only played a few songs with the Hawks during their 1965 show at the Newport Folk Festival.
Well, after listening to this Sound Opinions interview with musician and Dylan bandmate Al Kooper, I had the pleasure of learning about a different side of the controversial 1965 story.
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And besides getting clued in to what really happened at Newport, I also had the chance to revisit the idea that the song is never finished, a concept which Kooper says fueled Dylan’s approach to live music.
And if you’ve ever seen Dylan in concert before (I have twice), you understand what Kooper is saying because rarely will you ever hear any of Dylan songs that same as they are on record.
Dylan always changes the songs to the point of completely redoing the melody and all the other core elements of the songs. And the result is that he creates, more times than not, an entirely new track live right there on stage before your very ears. Some fans enjoy this about Dylan while other fans find it very annoying about him.
That said, witnessing the real-time evolution of a song live in concert is something Frank Orrall of Poi Dog pondering talked about too when we asked him to explore his take on the topic. And I was intrigued by his response.
And this concept is also at the core of what Keys N Krates do superbly with their live show.
As an example, here’s a video from Keys N Krates live show when we saw them at SXSW 2011. Take a look at the video below and let me know what you think.
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I’d also like to hear what you think about Dylan concept that the song is never finished.
And while you’re at it, tell me if you agree that the live show is THE place to experiment with new versions of fan favorite songs, or should the live show be a place to hear the exact same version heard on the album.
Do you think this live show experimentation upsets fans who want to hear the original album version. Do you think it has an impact on how we feel during a show?
Photo by Colleen Catania