When Dylan Went Electric
On July 25th, 1965, Bob Dylan went onstage at the Newport Folk Festival, plugged in his electric guitar and played the chords to "Maggie's Farm". The audience, who had come to see an acoustic poet, the folk voice of the generation, were caught by surprise.
While some cheered, many booed him throughout that song and through his subsequent number, Like A Rolling Stone. Indeed, according to one assessment, Dylan was said to have "electrified one half of his audience, and electrocuted the other".
Think about that. They booed Bob Dylan. Not some newbie on the music scene. But the man who wrote The Times They Are A Changing. The man who was said to be a key voice in the Civil Rights era. That Bob Dylan.
So here’s the thing.
If you decide to do what you’ve never done before, if you decide to step out of your comfort zone, and change in some way, you’re going to get the full spectrum of reaction from those who see your work.
There will be your supporters, who want to see you succeed. They’ll encourage you, they’ll push you forward. You’ll get positive words from them.
There will be those who don’t get it. They’ll be bemused, because the box in their mind that you fit in, doesn’t quite make sense anymore. You might hear about it from them. But, more likely, you won't. I won’t say their silence will be deafening but it will be obvious.
There will also be those who see it, who get it, but can’t (and won’t) accept it. They will be critics - either explicitly or implicitly. You’ll hear about it from them. Or worse, you won’t but your friends and acquaintances will.
Did you hear what she’s up to? Who does she think she is?
Did you see what he’s doing these days? When is he going to figure out that’s not who he is?
We see this all the time on social media today. Social media has exacerbated this. It’s easy to offer up advice, opinions - good or bad - and then disappear into the ether. But make no mistake, social media didn’t create it. This is human nature - or rather the fallibility of it.
So what it means for you, for me, and for all the other creators out there, is simple.
We need to stay focused on our message. Our vision. Our true north.
We need to do what we believe in, regardless of what others will do, and especially regardless of what we think others will do or say.
Do what you believe in and know that there will always be haters. Be true to your vision and no one can ever doubt your integrity and honesty. They don't have to like your work, but then, perhaps it wasn't meant for them.
If you do that, you’ll find your tribe.
Those who want and need your message.
Those who don’t and won’t, don’t matter.
And that’s really all there is to it.
Because if Dylan didn’t give a fuck, you shouldn’t either.