Photo from the Philadelphia Inquirer collection at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's Library & Archives
“I don’t believe you. You’re a liar.”
“Play f*cking loud.”
This was the simple yet striking dialogue between a fan and Bob Dylan 50 years ago (May 17, 1966) at the Manchester Free Trade Hall, and in my opinion this is the single greatest moment captured on tape at a rock concert.
The voice of the betrayed fan is a like a shot in the dark, accusing Dylan of turning his back his protest-song-singing past, which in retrospect barely lasted four years. However, it was a transition that the folk community that accepted and propelled Dylan was unwilling to recognize.
When I was a new Dylan fan in the mid-1990s, this concert was the bootleg to acquire. At that time there was still a debate over where the show actually took place – in Manchester or at the Royal Albert Hall in London. I ended up buying a compilation of tracks from the May 1966 tour of England, and I didn’t hear the full concert until it was released by Columbia as the 4th volume of Dylan’s Bootleg Series ...
As detailed in Clinton Heylin's biography Behind the Shades, musician Tony Glover visited Bob Dylan's New York apartment in early October 1963 and stumbled across the lyrics to a new song, "The Times They Are A-Changin'." When Glover expressed reservations about the line "Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call," Dylan countered, "Well, you know, it seems to be what the people want to hear."
Dylan had recorded a publishing demo the previous month and recorded the song officially on October 24. Though the Times They Are A-Changin' album wasn't released until mid-January 1964, Dylan performed the song in concert throughout the fall of 1963.
His ambivalence about the song colors his divergent recollections. Discussing "The Times They Are A-Changin'" in the notes for the mid-Eighties Biograph retrospective, Dylan stated, "This was definitely a song with a purpose. I knew exactly what I wanted to say and for whom I wanted to say it to.... I wanted to write a big song, some kind of theme song, ya know, with short concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way....I had to play this song the same night that President Kennedy died. It ...
In the first week of May 1970, Hall of Fame Inductee Chrissie Hynde was 18 years old and a Kent State University student, but it wasn't a typical week.
"[After days of protesting] Saturday morning rolled around to news that a curfew had been imposed upon the city... We were all fired up from our spectacle of a protest the night before," wrote Hynde in Reckless: My Life as a Pretender. "The ROTC – the Resident Officers’ Training Corps – was a very unpopular presence on campus. Anything 'military' was unwelcome... obviously, it had to go... a party atmosphere was in full effect. Every dorm room blasted music out: Hendrix, the Beatles, Crosby Stills & Nash, Led Zeppelin, Steppenwolf, Ritchie Havens, Jefferson Airplane... then the real party began. An A-team of longhairs charged down the hill, hurling railroad flares through the windows of the ROTC building. Old and rickety, it went up in flames." The tension on campus continued to escalate leading up to the afternoon of May 4, 1970.
"The grassy, rolling common was teeming with students," recalled Hynde. "I’d never seen it so packed...I pushed my way through the crowd…. Then I heard the tatatatatatatatatat sound. I thought ...
This week, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum was honored to host an international discussion when BBC World Service's World Have Your Say broadcast live from the Museum's Alan Freed Studio. The program brought together a diverse panel of guests, including Rock and Roll Hall of Fame President and CEO Terry Stewart and Rock Hall Vice President of Education and Public Programs Lauren Onkey, who traded insights with remote guests English singer-songwriter Billy Bragg, Egyptian rapper and poet Mohamed El Deeb, Yoko Ono and more. Host Ros Atkins posed the question that fueled the program's discussion: Has protest music disappeared?
"We had a spirited discussion about whether music can bring about social change," says Onkey. "It's a difficult thing to measure. The easy thing to do is to pull out a topical song, like an anti-war or anti-apartheid song, and measure it against whether or not something changed about that specific issue. But I think that change is harder to measure, and much broader and sometimes more subtle than that.
"Songs can educate us about an issue or a point of view from the past – The Specials' "Ghost Town," Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young ...