Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus: Writings 1968-2010

Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus: Writings 1968-2010

by Greil Marcus
     
 

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His foremost interpreter revisits more than forty years of listening to Dylan—weaving individual moods and moments into a brilliant history of their changing timesSee more details below

Overview

His foremost interpreter revisits more than forty years of listening to Dylan—weaving individual moods and moments into a brilliant history of their changing times

Editorial Reviews

Jim Windolf
Now in his seventh decade, Greil Marcus still writes with the almost foolish enthusiasm of a young person, and when he takes on Bob Dylan, who inspired him to become a writer, he is at his most alive…His prose can get overheated, a little loopy even, but Marcus can tell a story simply and effectively…
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
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. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
Rolling Stone, October, 2010
“As a critic, Greil Marcus is a tough crowd—his bullshit detector should get some kind of Nobel Prize. No writer has followed Bob Dylan as closely or as passionately as Marcus, who makes the man's whole career seem like one wild American adventure. And nobody has ever written about Dylan with so much savage wit…. In this essential anthology, Marcus chronicles Dylan's ups and downs…. The collection reads like the journal of a 40-year love story…. Through it all, Marcus' words are restless and probing—a true match for Dylan's voice."

 Book Page, December 2010
“No one else has anatomized Bob Dylan, his music and his personality as relentlessly or as minutely as Greil Marcus. Witness now the culmination of that obsession in Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus…. But this is more than a study of Dylan—it’s a jagged portrait of the age.”

 American Scholar, Winter 2011
“No cultural critic has contemplated the meaning of Dylan’s music and career more thoroughly than Greil Marcus…. What makes this collection of writings so welcome is that Marcus’s career as a critic began just after those profound and turbulent times; over half the book covers Dylan’s career since 1990…. Reading some 40 years of Marcus’s criticism on Bob Dylan allows us to appreciate more fully than we have before the long arc of the musician’s career. It also displays the development of the critic’s vision of America.”
 
San Francisco Chronicle, November 28, 2010
“Why read anyone else's work on Dylan? Through previous tomes like Invisible Republic and Like a Rolling Stone, the Berkeley-based Marcus has done more to build the Dylan myth than the curmudgeonly man himself.”
 
Boston Globe, November 26, 2010
“If anyone is worthy of an entire collection of critiques of Bob Dylan, it’s Marcus. The rock critic and cultural commentator has astutely chronicled Dylan’s trajectory for more than four decades through record reviews, essays, and books.”
 
The Forward, November 22, 2010
“So how best to understand Bob Dylan? Miles Davis, another modern master of American music, once said, ‘Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.’ Playing what’s there and what’s not there as a critic — a mode familiar to Dylan playing out his influences as an artist, as well — Marcus allows Dylan’s work to be heard thicker, stranger, more boldly and with more imagination than we could hear it on our own.”

 Minneapolis Start Tribune, Best Nonfiction of 2010
“A wondrous pairing of one of the greatest musicians in American history and one of our greatest music journalists.... These pieces create a vivid, fascinating portrait of how, through his long and trailblazing career, Dylan has drawn from and utterly reinvented the landscape of traditional American song. Marcus' collected celebrations (and occasional disappointed criticisms) of Dylan are must-reading for Dylan devotees everywhere.”

Robert Loss , Bookslut, December 6, 2010
“Eccentric, volatile, persuasive: Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus: Writings 1968-2010 reads like the free adventure offered by its subject…. A clutch of dispatches from a correspondent grown skeptical but still capable of being surprised — who in fact wants to be surprised…. Marcus is simply one of the few in his field who can match Dylan on a subject they both find fascinating: America.”

Kirkus Reviews

The renowned critic compiles more than four decades of writing about his favorite subject, who he has covered in such books as Invisible Republic (1997) and Like a Rolling Stone (2005).

The collection begins promisingly with Marcus's most notorious single piece about Dylan, the caustic Rolling Stonecritique of the two-LP set Self Portrait (1970). But this selection of album, concert and book reviews, features, liner notes, columns and academic papers is swiftly sabotaged by the author's humorlessness, myopia and simple bad judgment. As ever, the writer relies on torturously scholastic readings of lyrics, odd and sometimes irrelevant sources and analogs and precious little musical explication to pick apart his thorny and highly inconsistent subject's work. It doesn't help that this book surveys nearly 30 years (1970–1997) of generally substandard writing and performing by Dylan. All too often, Marcus falls back on familiar tropes. He regularly flogs 1920s icons like Rabbit Brown, Dock Boggs and the other denizens of Harry Smith'sAnthology of American Folk Music to make his points, and he hashes over Dylan's 1965–66 collaborations with The Band—first essayed in Mystery Train(1975)—once too often. The author's pieces about Dylan's inspired latter-day work is muddled and uncomprehending. He perplexingly writes off the renascent album Oh Mercy (1989) as a "producer's album," yet lauds Time Out of Mind (1997), also helmed by producer Daniel Lanois. At times, his contorted attempts to make an unusual connection are simply wrong-headed. His fantastical 2000 piece relating "Desolation Row" to an 1888 canvas by artist James Ensor is as insupportable as it is egregious. In one review, Marcus assails some writing in Dylan's memoirChronicles Volume 1 (2004), saying, "That line calls attention to itself." The same could be said for almost the entire corpus of the author's work about Dylan.

In this fatiguing chronicle of a gifted musician's work, quality never equals quantity.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781610391993
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
01/29/2013
Pages:
512
Sales rank:
872,437
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.40(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

Rolling Stone, October, 2010
“As a critic, Greil Marcus is a tough crowd—his bullshit detector should get some kind of Nobel Prize. No writer has followed Bob Dylan as closely or as passionately as Marcus, who makes the man's whole career seem like one wild American adventure. And nobody has ever written about Dylan with so much savage wit…. In this essential anthology, Marcus chronicles Dylan's ups and downs…. The collection reads like the journal of a 40-year love story…. Through it all, Marcus' words are restless and probing—a true match for Dylan's voice."

 Book Page, December 2010
“No one else has anatomized Bob Dylan, his music and his personality as relentlessly or as minutely as Greil Marcus. Witness now the culmination of that obsession in Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus…. But this is more than a study of Dylan—it’s a jagged portrait of the age.”

 American Scholar, Winter 2011
“No cultural critic has contemplated the meaning of Dylan’s music and career more thoroughly than Greil Marcus…. What makes this collection of writings so welcome is that Marcus’s career as a critic began just after those profound and turbulent times; over half the book covers Dylan’s career since 1990…. Reading some 40 years of Marcus’s criticism on Bob Dylan allows us to appreciate more fully than we have before the long arc of the musician’s career. It also displays the development of the critic’s vision of America.” San Francisco Chronicle, November 28, 2010
“Why read anyone else's work on Dylan? Through previous tomes like Invisible Republic and Like a Rolling Stone, the Berkeley-based Marcus has done more to build the Dylan myth than the curmudgeonly man himself.” Boston Globe, November 26, 2010
“If anyone is worthy of an entire collection of critiques of Bob Dylan, it’s Marcus. The rock critic and cultural commentator has astutely chronicled Dylan’s trajectory for more than four decades through record reviews, essays, and books.” The Forward, November 22, 2010
“So how best to understand Bob Dylan? Miles Davis, another modern master of American music, once said, ‘Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.’ Playing what’s there and what’s not there as a critic — a mode familiar to Dylan playing out his influences as an artist, as well — Marcus allows Dylan’s work to be heard thicker, stranger, more boldly and with more imagination than we could hear it on our own.”

 Minneapolis Start Tribune, Best Nonfiction of 2010
“A wondrous pairing of one of the greatest musicians in American history and one of our greatest music journalists.... These pieces create a vivid, fascinating portrait of how, through his long and trailblazing career, Dylan has drawn from and utterly reinvented the landscape of traditional American song. Marcus' collected celebrations (and occasional disappointed criticisms) of Dylan are must-reading for Dylan devotees everywhere.”

Robert Loss , Bookslut, December 6, 2010
“Eccentric, volatile, persuasive: Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus: Writings 1968-2010 reads like the free adventure offered by its subject…. A clutch of dispatches from a correspondent grown skeptical but still capable of being surprised — who in fact wants to be surprised…. Marcus is simply one of the few in his field who can match Dylan on a subject they both find fascinating: America.”

Read More

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