Bob Dylan's Five Least Receptive Audiences

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Bob Dylan played his first ever show in Vietnam over the weekend as part of a brief tour of Asia. There was some amount of fanfare associated with this tour, and this stop in particular, given that so much of Dylan's most vibrant work was written as a response to military action in places like Vietnam. Turns out the Vietnemese weren't exactly feeling a void: Only about half of the 8,000 available tickets were sold. Of course, 4,000 concert attendees is nothing to sneeze at, and Dylan has endured much, much worse. His five least receptive audiences, below.

5. Danish Art Critics
Dylan's poetry does not, evidently, translate to canvas. His paintings were exhibited in Copenhagen last fall and met with outright disdain from the critical establishment. Art History Professor Peter Brix Soendergaard was quoted as saying, "Bob Dylan paints like any other amateur, using a rather oafish figurative style,"

4. Stuttgart, Germany, June 17, 1991
The show frequently cited by fans as Dylan's worst ever came in the awkward years between vital artist and elder statesman. Thanks to the obsessive cataloging of his fans, we know he snuck arguably his worst song, "Wiggle Wiggle" into the front half of the set, which at that time he was doing relatively infrequently. Those who attended say he barely got through the early songs of the set before rallying very slightly.

3. Long Branch, New Jersey Police Department
During Dylan's 2009 tour with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, he decided to talk a walk in the rain before a show in New Jersey. He may have been looking for the cottage in which Bruce Springsteen wrote Born To Run, which is in the town. Either way, he wandered onto a couple's lawn and they called the cops. This ABC report of the incident suggests the officer was naive to think this wandering, haggard-looking old man was not actually Bob Dylan, but we're sympathetic. He does look a lot like a homeless man these days.

2. An Elementary School in Calabasa, California
Dylan's grandson was in kindergarten in 2007, and ol' granddad showed up to serenade some youngsters in his class. Kids can be harsh critics: the legend was apparently described as the "weird man" with the "scary songs." "Hurricane" does have some pretty dark implications...

1. Newport Folk Festival, 1965
Dylan goes electric. Maybe you've heard about this (you'll just have to imagine the exploding hippies in the audience):


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6 comments
Rightbooks01
Rightbooks01

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mike a
mike a

#1 has been disputed like any mythical event. Joe Boyd was the stage manager for the Newport Folk Festival, and in his book, White Bicycles, he claims that the reaction to this was actually mixed - some loved it, some hated it, all were energized. Sadly, it turns out Pete Seeger didn't try to cut the power supply with an axe, either. Boyd seems to have done far less drugs than many of his '60s peers, so I'd take his word for it.

Then again, at least two people have come forward as yelling "Judas!" at the Manchester Free Trade Hall, so clearly there are different interpretations.

Kiernan Maletsky
Kiernan Maletsky

I like to imagine this sort of thing like a sort of biblical metaphor, meant more to illustrate a point than relate events exactly as they occurred. But point taken, for sure.

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