This song appears on Bob Dylans third album released in 1964 “The Times They Are a-Changin”. This performance is from 1963 at the Newport Folk Festival.
Recently I was watching a documentary on Bob Dylan that focused on his early live performances. This one in particular really took me back, and thanks to the wonders of the Internet I have been able to direct all of my obsessive energies towards watching this clip over and over again.
The song itself is a real triumph of craft, not only due to the important nature of the subject that it details, but because of the fascinating point of view that is taken in the narrative.
Right from the tuning at the beginning, there is an intimacy that is created between Dylan and audience which makes every detail of the performance that much more compelling. I think that this is a huge part of the appeal of this clip for me.
He also does something at the close of the song which I found to be really interesting. The way that he indicates to the audience that the song is over, and that you can applaud now with his strum can be seen in almost all of these early performances. To me this really illustrates the idea that Dylan was not only the brilliant songwriter locked away creating, but he was also, from the very beginning, a performer aware of his role with an audience.
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