Conversion to folk music, that is. From the 1978 Playboy interview:
PLAYBOY: Just to stay on the track, what first turned you on to folk singing? You actually started out in Minnesota playing the electric guitar with a rock group, didn’t you?
DYLAN: Yeah. The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta. I heard a record of hers in a record store, back when you could listen to records right there in the store. That was in ’58 or something like that. Right then and there, I went out and traded my electric guitar and amplifier for an acoustical guitar, a flat-top Gibson.
PLAYBOY: What was so special to you about that Odetta record?
DYLAN: Just something vital and personal. I learned all the songs on that record. It was her first and the songs were “Mule Skinner,” “Jack of Diamonds,” “Waterboy,” “Buked and Scorned.”
Though with Dylan you can never tell, I hope this is true. (Especially since Odetta and I share a home town.)
Twenty-five years ago I wrote an essay about Dylan that was published first in Books & Culture and then at bobdylan.com — the former of which was a pleasure to have published and the second rather disorientingly exciting. (I got paid in CDs.) I think this is the B&C version.