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Chimes of Freedom: The Politics of Bob Dylan's Art

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Though it was blues and folk songs that first led Bob Dylan to politics, it was politics that unlocked his astonishing songwriting ability, evidenced by dazzling responses in the early 1960s to the civil rights movement and the threat of nuclear war. Chimes of Freedom reasserts the timeliness of such political songs as A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, revealing that although Dylan actually penned the song prior to the event widely-thought to have inspired it - the Cuban Missile Crisis - he was able to do so precisely ...
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Brand New - excellent clean condition, hard bound with dust jacket *** Title: "Chimes of Freedom", Author: Mike Marqusee, Publisher: New Press ***

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Overview

Though it was blues and folk songs that first led Bob Dylan to politics, it was politics that unlocked his astonishing songwriting ability, evidenced by dazzling responses in the early 1960s to the civil rights movement and the threat of nuclear war. Chimes of Freedom reasserts the timeliness of such political songs as A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, revealing that although Dylan actually penned the song prior to the event widely-thought to have inspired it - the Cuban Missile Crisis - he was able to do so precisely because he was fundamentally a political artist with an astute sense of the prevailing anxieties.

Marqusee then traces the young songwriter's subsequent reluctance to be pigeoholed, his rejection of "protest," and his turn to electric rock at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. He shows the way folk tradition, modernism, and commercial popular culture are sublimely fused in Dylan's masterworks of the mid-1960s, notably on the albums Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde, and discusses the artist's quest for American identity - amid the continuing carnage in Vietnam and growing chaos at home - in The Basement Tapes and John Wesley Harding.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Bob Dylan's early Sixties songs-such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall"-quickly became rallying cries of the folk music-centered protest movement. Marqusee (Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties) aims to show both how politics are embedded in those songs and how Dylan moved away from the explicitly political in the middle of the decade. He contends that Dylan's early art gained much of its impetus from the protests of the Civil Rights Movement, and he discusses other sources that influenced Dylan, including bluesman Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and Dave Van Ronk. Post-1965, he points out, Dylan turned away from political engagement, as evidenced by the apolitical albums Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde, and returned only sporadically to politics in later decades. At the same time, Marqusee argues that Dylan's politically engaged songs influenced a wide range of artists, from Curtis Mayfield ("People Get Ready") to Bruce Springsteen, who was dubbed the "new Dylan" early in his career. He asserts that Dylan's protest songs continue to be influential because his themes of social justice, peace, and poverty are universal and eternal. Ultimately, Marqusee pins too much importance on the Civil Rights Movement as an influence, and like many other Dylan books, his fails to capture the singer's life and music because Dylan himself is such an enigma. Even so, he makes a valiant effort, and this is recommended for libraries with large Dylan or Sixties collections.-Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565848252
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 10/1/2003
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 7.68 (h) x 1.21 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 The Whole Wide World Is Watchin' 6
2 Not Much Is Really Sacred 87
3 Little Boy Lost 131
4 The Wicked Messenger 201
Afterword: Corruptible Seed 272
Select Bibliography 283
Select Website Listing 286
Select Discography 287
Notes 289
Index 297
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