The Shape of Things to Come, by Greil Marcus

Eric Homberger in The Independent:

MarcusGreil Marcus, reigning top banana of American rock critics, has stories to tell about the collision of restless musical innovation with a greedy recording industry doing its level best to suck creativity dry, and make money doing so. That David and Goliath story has simplified our understanding of rock, and Marcus rejects it. Rather, he has been obsessed by more complex moments of confrontation, such as Bob Dylan’s appearance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963.

As he vividly told it in Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes, Dylan walked on stage with a Fender Stratocaster, and the shocked audience booed. Backstage, his friends were thinking that this was a lynch-mob. In England, Dylan was accused of being a Judas. With an electronic guitar in his hand, Dylan’s back turned towards the audience felt like an act of betrayal.

Coinciding with the early stages of the civil rights movement, the folk revival of the early 1960s saw itself as a crusade for national renewal. In an America reeling from assassinations and racial violence, the songs of the people, especially poor black people in the rural south, possessed a redeeming moral force. Electronic guitars embodied the big-money, high-technology corporate world that repeatedly strangled the authentic voice of the people.

More here.  [Photo shows Greil Marcus.]