“We’re all wondering, what’s he gonna do, what’s he gonna do? It was a strange performance. It wasn’t technically brilliant. But he played a festival’s array of styles. It was like ‘Here’s American music, guys. You want a festival? I’m going to give you a festival.’ And then the ghosts began to me to become corporeal. You know, already there were everybody from Tennessee Ernie Ford and God knows who, not all Newport people by any means, but Son House and Muddy Waters; they were all kind of assuming shape again.” Wilentz says that by the time Dylan encored with the Grateful Dead’s arrangement of “Not Fade Away,” the spirits of Buddy Holly and Jerry Garcia had joined the mix. That show, the discussion of which comes near the end of “Bob Dylan in America,” can stand for just some of the historical strands that come together in Dylan. “People think of it as Americana,” Wilentz says, “which is a term I can’t stand. Or roots music. Or all those labels. It’s not, it’s none of that. I mean, it’s American music. It’s the music this country has created out of blood, sweat and tears, and he picks all of that up and raises it, lowers it, he takes it and makes it his own.”
more from Charles Taylor at the LAT here.