The Times They Are a‑Changin’: 1964 Broadcast Gives a Rare Glimpse of the Early Bob Dylan

In ear­ly 1964, Bob Dylan was at the apex of his jour­ney as a social­ly con­scious folk singer. The fleet­ing moment is pre­served in this rare half-hour TV pro­gram, record­ed on Feb­ru­ary 1 of that year. With­in a week the Bea­t­les would land in Amer­i­ca. In a lit­tle over a month, Dylan would rent an elec­tric gui­tar.

The tele­vi­sion per­for­mance is from Quest, a Cana­di­an Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion series that ran between 1961 and 1964 and show­cased a wide range of lit­er­ary and per­form­ing arts. It was pro­duced in Toron­to by Daryl Duke, who went on to direct Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion pro­grams and fea­ture films.

Dylan appears in his clas­sic Woody Guthrie mode on a set made to look like a west­ern bunkhouse. He plays six songs–half from The Times They Are a‑Changin’, his third album released just a few weeks before, and half from his pre­vi­ous album, The Free­wheel­in’ Bob Dylan. In order of appear­ance:

  1. The Times They Are A Changin’
  2. Talkin’ World War III Blues
  3. Lone­some Death of Hat­tie Car­roll
  4. Girl From the North Coun­try
  5. A Hard Rain’s A‑Gonna Fall
  6. Rest­less Farewell

“The Times They Are a‑Changin’,” as the pro­gram is titled, offers a unique glimpse of the ear­ly Bob Dylan, just before his music turned from social issues to per­son­al ones, just before he put away the blue jeans and work shirts and began wear­ing Bea­t­le boots and sun­glass­es. “Dylan’s appear­ance on Quest,” says writer and film­mak­er Erek Barsczews­ki, “pro­vides the clos­est approx­i­ma­tion avail­able of what his ear­ly per­for­mances in Green­wich Vil­lage would have looked and sound­ed like.”

by | Permalink | Comments (16) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (16)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • coni says:

    Dylan’s Music make me hap­py and reflec­tive too. A great half-hour music!

  • colin says:

    I’ve seen so much footage of Bob over the years and, for some rea­son, this is the first time I’ve been struck by how sim­i­lar­i­ly he per­formed all this ear­ly work. For a solo artist, who could basi­cal­ly do what­ev­er the hell he want­ed, Dylan pret­ty much stuck to the script: the songs are vir­tu­al­ly iden­ti­cal to what was on the record. Fast-for­ward even 2 years ahead and Dylan’s ver­sions of his own songs var­ied sig­nif­i­cant­ly. (Check out the ver­sion of Mag­gie’s Farm at New­port: Musi­cal­ly, it sounds like “One Way Out” by Son­ny Boy Williamson, and very dif­fer­ent from the record. It’s way bet­ter, but I digress.) His wild inter­pre­ta­tions of his own mate­r­i­al became some­thing he is known for now. Ask any musi­cian he played with. It was not the case in the begin­ning.

  • pam hayes says:

    He is theI love bob dylan and have every­day since1963.he is great­est amer­i­can poet ever!!!

  • ghraydon wallick says:

    This should be required view­ing for any­one inter­est­ed in rev­o­lu­tion­ary art. I first saw Bob Dylan in 1964. He was play­ing the Wil­son High School Gym in Long Beach, Ca. He looked exact­ly as he did in this excel­lent video. I should men­tion that the con­cert was NOT sold out.

    Coin­ci­dent­ly my moth­er’s house was direct­ly across the girls ath­let­ic field (100 yards) from the gym’s entrance. An old­er friend of mine who had been to New York and saw Dylan in the cof­fee hous­es had an extra tick­et; his date stood him up. I agreed to go but was a lit­tle freaked out by the crowd of weirdos I saw wait­ing for the doors to open. I was a 17 year old high school junior and to say I was moved by the expe­ri­ence does­n’t quite say it.

    I was TRANSFORMED by it; as the world would soon be too. One year lat­er his songs were all over the LA radio waves and head­ing for the top of the charts. Dylan trans­formed my per­spec­tive and imag­i­na­tion in much the same way as Elvis Pres­ley’s first pub­lic appear­ance on the Ed Sul­li­van show in 1956? did. I could­n’t sleep at all that night and in a way Dylan woke me up for the rest of my life.

    The sec­ond time I saw him was in 1965 at the San­ta Mon­i­ca Civic audi­to­ri­um at the con­cert that became THE piv­otal event in his career. That con­cert thrust him into the main­stream pop­u­lar cul­ture as a star and icon. Peo­ple just hung around wait­ing to be close to him and crowd­ing his car in the park­ing lot when he tried to leave between shows.

    In 1966 I saw him once more, this time at the new Long Beach Civic Audi­to­ri­um. It was Decem­ber 12, 1966. Ear­li­er in the day I had ran away from an angry marine sergeant who was lying and try­ing to shang­hai me into the Viet­nam war. So it was a day of con­trasts for sure.

    I arrived at the Audi­to­ri­um a cou­ple of hours ear­ly because I had paint­ed a por­trait of Dylan (from a pho­to on one of his ear­ly album cov­ers) and I want­ed to give it to him. In those inno­cent times crowd secu­ri­ty had a soft­er face and this one was attached to a kind­ly old man.

    With­out so much as a met­al detec­tor wand or weapons pat down, he said “fol­low me”, then duti­ful­ly lead me from the tick­et win­dow, through the front doors, down the cen­ter isle of the audi­to­ri­um, up the steps to the stage, across the stage, down the steps to the back stage, to a back stage door. He point­ed with his thumb and said “I think he’s in there”. Then he walked away leav­ing me, a 19 year old kid on the oppo­site side of the door from my Hero.

    I was kind of con­fused but thought “What the Hell, I knocked on the door. A very ner­vous (para­noid actu­al­ly) voice said “Who’s there? What do you want? I replied my name is Grady and I have some thing for Bob Dylan. He shot back, “slide it under the door man”. “It’s a paint­ing in a frame, It won’t go under the door” I informed him. “OK, OK, Hold on a minute man”, sounds of many anx­ious feet shuf­fling away at speed. In those times even a stray mar­i­jua­na seed in your pock­et could land in you in prison.

    A few moments lat­er the door opens a crack and a para­noid young man grabs the paint­ing from my out­stretched and hand and quick­ly slams the door shut. His “thank you” was near­ly clipped in two between the door’s edge and frame. My, “You’re wel­come” hit the door and bounced back at me stick­ing to the fresh barbs of my burr cut hair do.

    I was alone back stage so… I walked back across the stage and took a seat in the front row and cen­ter and wait­ed for the show to start. A few min­utes lat­er Dylan and the Band walked on stage and did sound checks and rehearsals. I was the only per­son in the huge audi­to­ri­um and they were play­ing just for me. They did this for about 10 min­utes then walked back off stage leav­ing me along with my grin aching from strain.

    As the the­atre even­tu­al­ly filled up I took my assigned seat fur­ther back from the stage. A young girl even­tu­al­ly came and sat down in her seat next to me. I could­n’t help myself, I had to tell some­body. I told her what had just hap­pened. She said that’s “Amaz­ing!” Then she informed me that it was her job to get the band sodas at the break and deliv­er them back­stage for the band. Then she asked me if I want­ed to help her. Out of the thou­sands of peo­ple who filled that audi­to­ri­um that night I was sit­ting next to THE ONE.

    Of course I helped her and back­stage I saw the same para­noid dude that took my paint­ing. He looked at me and said “WHO ARE YOU?” I said “My name is Grady, I brought the paint­ing for Dylan”. He said “Oh, the PAINTING He LOVES it man! , he’s in his dress­ing room look­ing at it right now!” I did­n’t ever get to meet him but I saw my paint­ing on top of the grand piano wait­ing for the road­ies to pack it up. I left on a HIGH: it’s last for many decades.

  • Richard Everett says:

    thanks for set­tin it all down Gray­don. Tho I heard it twice from your own lips It’s great to see it in words I can print. your mem­o­ry and actions are pre­cious to me. Bob Dylan was the sin­gle great­est influ­ence in my life. His music and poet­ry imbue my life still. from the bot­tom of my heart ‑thanks for sharin’ man.

  • Wow, that was a great sto­ry, Grhay­don. I was think­ing as I read it about how we ele­vate peo­ple to such a high place in our thoughts, and how what they do or say can come to mean so much to us. I was also think­ing about how that rela­tion­ship can be so over­whelm­ing for the objects of our atten­tion: look at Dylan’s reac­tion when you brought the paint­ing. Not what we would hope for in a way, but all things con­sid­ered, not unex­pect­ed.

  • Valentin says:

    I want to see all videos. EVERYTHING you have about Bob Dylan. Thank you. Valentin.

  • Valentin says:

    Very inspir­ing artist.

  • tomcj says:

    i have watched this and even post­ed it from anoth­er site, but i am grate­ful for your essay!!!!

  • gringo557 says:

    Great sto­ry, ghray­don, with one date wrong. You could not have seen Dylan in Decem­ber 1966. He had his motor­cy­cle acci­dent in July of that year and “retired.” It was prob­a­bly Decem­ber 1965? I sure wish I could have seen those ear­ly shows. My first was the 1974 “come­back” tour, at Oak­land. And need­less to say, it changed MY life for­ev­er.

  • Walt Quinn says:

    I was at the Wil­son High Dylan show in 1964. The Gold­en Bear were the pro­mot­ers. I can remem­ber his leather jack­et and Bea­t­le boots. He sang Gates of Eden, Mr Tam­bourine Man ‚etc before Bringin’ It All Back Home was released. I was in a recod­ing stu­dio and ran into Jeff from the Nit­ty Grit­ty Dirt Band. We real­ized we were at the same show and com­pared notes. He said Jack­son Brown, his friend, wAs there too. Pret­ty heady. I was 14. I lived in River­side and he had played ear­li­er that year in a small cof­fee shop at UCR. My dad would­n’t let me go because it was a Tues­day evening.

  • Walt Quinn says:

    Jeff Han­na

  • Walt Quinn says:

    John Hiatt and I met him about 25 years ago. We sat and talked for 30 years. He was real­ly fun­ny. Go fig­ure.

  • Larry fyffe says:

    That’s Michael Zenon sit­ting at the table writ­ing, but who else is in that lone­ly cab­in atop the cbc TV stu­dios in Toron­to!

  • ghraydon wallick says:

    You’re right gringo557, it was decem­ber 17, 1965. Too much time, space and mind dis­solv­ing sub­stances in the years in between… sor­ry about that.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.