Bob Dylan
Newport, RI  
10:00 minutes
Rating / Rec. Type
Source / Generation
CS / unknown generation
Newport Folk Festival

July 26-28, 1963

Blowin' In the Wind (July 26)
We Shall Overcome (July 26)
Ye Playboys and Playgirls (July 27)
With God On Our Side (July 28)

The first two songs appear on the official Vanguard album Evening Concerts At Newport, Vol 1, and the last two songs appear on the official Vanguard album Newport Broadside. Other artists are featured on the same albums and all come from the Newport Folk Festival 1963. The theme of the second album was "topical songs", another term for protest songs. Some of the other people on this album include Phil Ochs and Jack Elliot.

The first two songs are all sung along with Peter, Paul & Mary, Joan Baez, The Freedom Singers, Pete Seeger and Theo Bikel. There's not much to say about them, other than they're just what you'd expect and not much in the way of interesting Dylan content. The second album is the more interesting of the two. I've never heard the complete Dylan set (or sets) from this festival, so I have no idea whas the rest of it sounded like, but these two songs are unusual for an official Dylan release because they are both duets with giants of the folk world. Ye Playboys and Playgirls is sung with Pete Seeger, who tries to lead the audience in a singalong ("You can all sing along with this song because only one line in each verse changes"), but really this song is much more clever than that and is very compelling in its simplicity. The artist is telling us that he won't be a slave to fashion, bigotry, or decadence. The song form is no doubt based on something much older, but I'm not sure where it came from. The form is simply this: "Ye Playboys and Playgirls ain't gonna run my world...not now or no other time". The same is said for fallout shelter sellers, Jim Crow laws, lynch mobs, etc. The usual anti-racist stuff, but given here a grimness that's hard to put my finger on. The feeling I get is that for all his defiance, it will all come to nothing. There is no joy in opposing oppression, only weariness. The other song is With God On Our Side with Joan Baez. This version is pretty unbearable in my opinion - too plodding and monotonous. Plus Joan's voice starts to irritate after a while. It would have been better if Dylan had sung it alone.

So, really one worthwhile performance - Ye Playboys and Playgirls, a pretty rare song in itself and never officially released except for this live duet.




Recording Notes


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© 1998 Craig Giffen