One of the most iconic figures in music still has to start somewhere. Even if you’re Bob Dylan, the mercurial troubadour that defined the 20th Century, you must get up early in the morning and get to grinding. Back in 1963, the young and vibrant folk singer was just making his way in the world when he was invited on to WBC-TV to sing a selection of songs including the new single from his upcoming album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.
The song in question, ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, would go on to be the most celebrated of Dylan’s compositions and here he delivers a captivating performance of the track for the audience at home. It’s one of Dylan’s more famous songs, but it was with performances like the one below that the singer truly made his name. With this, and pretty much every subsequent showing, Dylan proved to be every bit the counter culture poster boy he tried so hard to avoid.
When Dylan was initially invited on to the show to perform, the singer gained pace as one of the leading voices of the folk movement in New York. Greenwich Village, so often awash with poets and writers, talked about his new kid called, Bob Dylan. The smoky coffee houses were abuzz with the singer and countless others like him, but Dylan first made the giant leap on to the silver screen, something which would prove to be crucial.
Recorded in March 1963 but not aired until May, the performance acts as the very first time a large audience had heard a clip from the upcoming debut album. But as well as delivering the first real spin of ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, Dylan also shared another two cracking performances. Adding to his set, the singer performed, ‘Ballad of Hollis Brown’ and the brilliant ‘Man Of Constant Sorrow’. The latter of which was a familiar moment for Dylan as he took on an old folkloric tune and adapted it for a new, hungry audience.
For a long time, the recordings of Dylan’s first TV appearance were lost to the ether, but now we can watch the selection of performances and revel in the vintage video and the power of Dylan’s performance all from the comfort of our own homes. The videos were made available through Martin Scorsese’s PBS television documentary No Direction Home and are now available below.
What strikes us most about the videos is the confidence and defiance that Dylan shows with only using his glinting eyes and authentic vocals. He is determined and powerful with every single note. Watch the moment Bob Dylan made his first television appearance, below.