You’d be hard pressed to find a more influential—or more prolific—songwriter than Bob Dylan. From his early days writing protest songs. Walking out of the Ed Sullivan show. Singing at the March on Washington. To the motorcycle accident that took him out of the game. His rebirth as a born-again Christian. And countless ground-breaking records along the way, there’s really no more fascinating, complex, or beloved figure in the American music canon than the man born Robert Zimmerman.
But even someone as popular as Bob Dylan has had his fair share of stones slung at him. At the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, Dylan quote “went Electric.” He’d been the darling of the acoustic folk scene and seemed to be leading the way to a new folk future. But that day, he plugged in his guitar and backed by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, he turned it up to eleven. The sound was incredible—and incredibly loud. Sure—Dylan had released an album full of plenty electricity a few months before—Bringing it all Back Home—but I guess that didn’t prepare Newport concert-goers for what was coming. Legend has it Pete Seeger was so pissed he tried to take an axe to Dylan’s guitar cables.
After that show, Dylan embarked on a tour that also didn’t fare well. Audiences showed up expecting the jangle of acoustic strings, and got a rollicking rock n’ roll show instead. Folk-minded critics were, not pleased. So when Dylan sings the famous refrain, “Everybody must get stoned,” he’s not talking about drugs. He’s talking about stoning in the biblical sense. Or in his case: criticism. Here’s the first track on the album that followed that first electric tour. “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35.”