What Pete Said About Electric Dylan

“I couldn’t understand the words. I wanted to hear the words. It was a great song, ‘Maggie’s Farm’, and the sound was distorted. I ran over to the guy at the controls and shouted, ‘Fix the sound so you can hear the words.’ He hollered back, ‘This is the way they want it.’ I said ‘Damn it, if I had an axe, I’d cut the cable right now.’ But I was at fault. I was the emcee, and I could have said to the part of the crowd that booed Bob, ‘You didn’t boo Howlin’ Wolf yesterday [and] he was electric!” Though I still prefer to hear Dylan acoustic, some of his electric songs are absolutely great. Electric music is the vernacular of the second half of the 20th century, to use my father’s old term.” That’s Pete Seeger, speaking 13 years ago about the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

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