Wired, pale, exhausted and curdling in cynicism, Bob Dylan cut a sorry figure at the end of his tour of Europe. The near-hysterical polemics over whether he should be playing acoustic or electric guitar were being played out as if the cultural destiny of the world were at stake. Dylan had had enough. The old Bob Dylan seemed intent on further self-destruction on his arrival back in the US.
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This is Dylan and the Band havin' a ball with folk, bluegrass, country, blues and rock in Woodstock in '67; now this is freewheeling, and it's many a fan's favorite Dylan record. Newly remastered! Skip to main content. Buy new:. Arrives: Monday, Jan Ships from: Amazon.
On July 29, , Bob Dylan became distracted while riding his motorcycle. Nobody knows what caught his eye—he told Sam Shepard that it was the sun; he told the biographer Robert Shelton that he hit an oil slick—but he ended up at the bottom of a hill in Woodstock, New York, with his Triumph beside him. His thoughts could have been distraction enough. When he took the stage at the Newport Folk Festival the previous July, with an electric guitar and a rock band, he pushed his career into a sharp turn.
No one must bootleg The Basement Tapes; that seems to be the message. Still, the preponderance of Basement Tapes bootlegs tells you something about the importance heaped on the music they contain. The rough recordings Dylan made in Woodstock in the spring and summer of had a profound effect, widely held to represent the third time in as many years that he altered the course of music. Sometimes he sounds shattered and rueful, like a man reeling from the experience of being Bob Dylan. The beatific idealism of the Summer of Love had begun to curdle, the appeal of the sonic experimentation Dylan never countenanced in the first place was wearing off: evidence of the havoc LSD could wreak on artists who used it to blast their music into the unknown began washing up.