Bob Dylan is set to release his first new album of new material this Friday when the highly anticipated Rough and Rowdy Ways drops. So, to mark the occasion, we thought we would take a trip down the Far Out archives all the way back to 1963 when The Bear Folk Club in Chicago welcomed Dylan for a performance that would prove his credentials as a generational talent.
The folk upstart had released his self-titled debut some twelve months previously and was still aged just 21 at the time of his performance in Chicago on April 25th, 1963. The show arrived just a matter of weeks before his album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was released into the world and his trajectory would change forever.
Before arriving at the show, Dylan’s fame, however fledgeling, was beginning to take flight as his debut album, Bob Dylan, saw him gather radio play and intrigue. But while that record had seen Dylan use other artist’s songs as his main form of expression, the new album was comprised of almost entirely original material.
On The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, the singer fully asserted himself as a songwriter. With the LP containing songs which are, to this day, remembered as his most iconic, including, ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’, and ‘A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall’, Dylan was set for major stardom.
It’s incredible to think that someone so young could write a song of such poignance like ‘A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall’, a track which showed such maturity. The song saw the 21-year-old take the bold step to write a seven-minute anti-nuclear war anthem which was a rare topic of choice for musicians in 1963, let alone from someone at Dylan’s tender age.
As well as giving the aforementioned track a run out in front of the captivated Chicago crowd—many of whom will have been a stranger to his work—he also debuted ‘Talkin’ World War III Blues’ during the show. The song is a perfect example of his unparalleled knack for storytelling that he has always been gifted with that can be heard still on 2020’s ‘Murder’s Most Foul‘.
For Dylan to take to the stage at such an intimate venue just weeks before he would graduate as being the poster boy for the rising of the counter-culture generation who were kicking back at the previous conformities that society had previously unchallenged.
1963 would end up being the year in which he would go from being another young interesting artist to the defining voice of a generation, and after listening to the audio from this spellbinding performance, there’s little question as to why.
Listen to the audio, below.
Bob Dylan’s Setlist:
- ‘Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance’
- ‘Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues’
- ‘Bob Dylan’s Dream’
- ‘Ballad of Hollis Brown’
- ‘Talkin’ World War III Blues’
- ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’
- ‘With God on Our Side’