Bob Dylan at the Ed Sullivan Show rehearsal, 1963

In May of 1963, Bob Dylan then just 22 was still an aspiring young musician who was preparing for the release of his 2nd album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. At this point in his career, Dylan had received little national attention. It seemed that was all about to change when he received an invitation to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. Bob Dylan was slated to make his first nationwide television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on May 12, 1963. For the show, Dylan decided to perform “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues”, a satirical blues number skewering the conservative John Birch Society and the red-hunting paranoia associated with it. A few days earlier, Bob Dylan auditioned the song for Ed Sullivan who seemed to have no issue with it.

However, on the day of the show during the dress rehearsal, an executive from the CBS Standards and Practices department decided Dylan could not perform the song due to its controversial nature. When the show’s producer, Bob Precht, informed Dylan of the decision, Dylan responded saying, “No; this is what I want to do. If I can’t play my song, I’d rather not appear on the show.” Rather than choose a new song to perform or change the lyrics (as the Rolling Stones and the Doors would agree to do), a young Bob Dylan walked off the set of the country’s highest-rated variety show.

  May 11, 2011 at 09:28pm
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    [Image description: Photo of a really young Bob Dylan on stage, with a guitar and harmonica, looking out into the...
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    FUCK YEAH. HE DOES WHAT HE WANTS, BITCHES.
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    cutie bobby d
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