The tired clichés regarding change could fill a book. I’m not really sure how that translates into an e-book which is change in it’s purest form. But when a company is faced with it suddenly, the smart ones do what Bob Dylan did in 1965: plug in.
I’m not talking about the headline of any entrepreneurial article from the mid-90’s that urged businesses to “get wired” into the “new economy” (which closely resembled the “old economy” with newer tools). It’s adopting a rock-n-roll attitude in order to adapt.
1965 was an awesome year for rock-n-roll. The Beatles were at the top of their game, the Rolling Stones broke wide with “Satisfaction”, and American rock-n-roll, thanks to the Beatles and the Stones, was catching up as well. Bob Dylan had been enjoying success as a songwriter and protest singer since 1962. In 1964, he turned the Beatles on to left handed jazz cigarettes which were very popular among the artistic types at that time. As a folk singer, he had sold enough records to be noticed. But the artists who had covered his songs sold way more records than Bob. By 1965, he decided it was his turn to sell a lot of records.
Bringing It All Back Home was an electric record. But if the album didn’t upset the folk purists (it did), his appearance with a full band at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival would make them completely stroke out. The legend surrounding that appearance gave rise to the story of Pete Seeger trying to hack the power main backstage with an axe during Dylan’s set. What a drama queen. On the West Coast, The Byrds had turned folk songs, Pete Seeger’s and Bob Dylan’s included, into two minute, pop hit singles. Bob saw how music was changing and embraced it.
By Highway 61 Revisited, Dylan was a rock star. The folk purists, who obviously were still happy playing and recording for each other, were still pissed. Dylan dressed like the Beatles and rode around in a limo. He’d even kick riders out they disagreed (see the Phil Ochs legend). How did he deal with the haters? The best example was the “Judas” incident during a show in Britain in 1966. A heckler called him out for turning his back on folk music. Dylan turns to the band (a most excellent backing band who would soon go on to be known in their own right as “The Band”) as they prepared to launch into “Like A Rolling Stone” and instructs them to “Play it f***ing loud.” That pretty much sums it up.
Faced with change? Who isn’t? Screw the Jack Welch quotes. Do as Dylan. Change big. Go electric. And play it f***ing loud.
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