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50 Years Ago, Dylan Went Electric

Saturday, July 25, 2015 marks 50 years to the day that a truly watershed moment in the history of rock music and pop culture took place: Bob Dylan appeared at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island and debuted the electric guitar into his music. 

Dylan had to that point been an icon of the acoustic folk-rock movement, using the acoustic guitar primarily as a vessle underneath which to deliver his lyrics of protest and revolution. The 1965 concert introduced rock instrumentation and tempo to folk music, bridging the gap between the two genres and bringing a crucial cultural respectability to rock music.

The music of Bob Dylan has resonated with people of all ages for more than half a century, and that is in no small part due to his ambition to push the envelope, to constantly shift out of his comfort zone. It's no great leap to say that this seminal moment altered the careers of other key artists of the time like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Who, each of whom were inspired to expand their sounds and lyrical content to become more experimental and politically minded.

Perhaps most impressive is that Dylan continues to create new music that stands alongside his 1960s and '70s heyday. His 2012 album Tempest was named by Rolling Stone the fourth-best album of the year (50 years after his debut album!), and his album from earlier this year, Shadows in the Night, was released to universal acclaim. This longevity is a testament to a musical genius unlike any other, and a true American icon.

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