Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan's life in music is revisited by his foremost interpreter -- weaving individual moods and moments into a brilliant history of their changing times.
The book begins in Berkeley in 1968, and ends with a piece on Dylan's show at the University of Minnesota -- his very first appearance at his alma mater -- on election night 2008. In between are moments of euphoric discovery: From Marcus's liner notes for the 1967 Basement Tapes (pop music's most famous bootlegged archives) to his exploration of Dylan's reimagining of the American experience in the 1997 Time Out of Mind. And rejection; Marcus's Rolling Stone piece on Dylan's album Self Portrait -- often called the most famous record review ever written -- began with "What is this shit?" and led to his departure from the magazine for five years. Marcus follows not only recordings but performances, books, movies, and all manner of highways and byways in which Bob Dylan has made himself felt in our culture.
Together the dozens of pieces collected here comprise a portrait of how, throughout his career, Bob Dylan has drawn upon and reinvented the landscape of traditional American song, its myths and choruses, heroes and villains. They are the result of a more than forty-year engagement between an unparalleled singer and a uniquely acute listener.
In his latest book on Dylan (after Like a Rolling Stone), veteran rock writer Marcus gathers his writings on the icon's long and varied career. Though Marcus seems to include every article, comment, or essay in which he so much as mentions Dylan, longtime fans will appreciate coverage of pivotal moments like working with The Band, a screening of The Last Waltz at Martin Scorsese's house, the first and last shows from a 14-night stand after Dylan became a Christian fundamentalist, and his 2004 performance of "Masters of War." It's not all fawning praise however, and Marcus not only includes his in-depth New York Times review of "New Morning" ("his best album in years") but also his damning critique of "Street Legal." The author's studies of specific songs will surely serve to deepen appreciation, but is it really necessary to revisit the Favorite Albums of Senatorial Candidates in Minnesota or the fact that the online Dylan store offers a "Self-Portrait Throw Blanket"? Maybe for the obsessed. Those with a less than fanatical fascination might be better served by one of the many other books on the iconic singer-songwriter.