Classic Clips: Bob Dylan “Mr Tambourine Man”, Newport Folk Festival, 1964

You know, sometimes people say to me “Jonathan, you may not agree with me but I really do think that Bob Dylan is over rated, and I just don’t get all the hoo-hah about him.  He’s no Bowie, you know.”  And, because I’m a fair minded person I take the time to reflect on what they’ve said and I find that I can only say that they are right – I don’t agree with them.  And then I consider that Bowie wrote two songs about or for or drawing on Bob Dylan, and Dylan, well he never felt the need to respond in kind.  I don’t know what that means.  Something probably.

If you need convincing that Dylan matters – or mattered if you prefer – then take a look at this performance from the film of the 1964 Newport Folk Festival.  Dylan for all his shy, self-effacing persona knows that he owns the place.  He is it.  And what a song – it is rolling and remarkable and poetic and defines what a lot of people wanted to be, they just didn’t know it “to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free / Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands / With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves / Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

About Jonathan Aird 2755 Articles
Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?
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Ryan Fox

I love this clip so much Jonathan! I’ve watched it scores of times already. I enjoy Bob’s concentration and benevolent intensity. Plus it’s most fitting ol Pete Seeger should be the man to introduce him. “All songwriters are links in a chain” – so true ❤️ thank you for sharing 😊 Ryan

Michael Macy

Jonathan, Thanks for posting this clip and the great write up. I agree with everything you wrote, except the suggestion that Dylan ‘mattered’ as if he doesn’t now. I am amazed at his recent songs; incredible. He still has the mojo.

Ryan Fox

Absolutely Michael. He contains multitudes 😊