Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads by Greil Marcus
Greil Marcus saw Bob Dylan for the first time in a New Jersey field in 1963. He didn't know the name of the scruffy singer who had a bit part in a Joan Baez concert, but he knew his performance was unique. So began a dedicated and enduring relationship between America's finest critic of popular music "simply peerless," in Nick Hornby's words, "not only as a rock writer but as a cultural historian" and Bob Dylan, who in 2016 won the Nobel Prize for Literature. In Like A Rolling Stone Marcus locates Dylan's six-minute masterwork in its richest, fullest context, capturing the heady atmosphere of the recording studio in 1965 as musicians and technicians clustered around the mercurial genius from Minnesota, the young Bob Dylan at the height of his powers.
But Marcus shows how, far from being a song only of 1965, "Like a Rolling Stone" is rooted in faraway American places and times, drawing on timeless cultural impulses that make the song as challenging, disruptive, and restless today as it ever was, capable of reinvention by artists as disparate as the comedian Richard Belzer and the Italian hip-hop duo Articolo 31. "Like a Rolling Stone" never loses its essential quality, which is directly to challenge the listener: it remains a call to arms and a demand for a better world. Forty years later it is still revolutionary as will and idea, as an attack and an embrace. How Does it Feel? In this unique, burningly intense book, Marcus tells you, and much more besides.
Greil Marcus is the author of Mystery Train, Lipstick Traces, Dead Elvis, In the Fascist Bathroom, The Dustbin of History, The Old, Weird America and Double Trouble. He has written for numerous publications, among them the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Threepenny Review, Artforum, Esquire, the Los Angeles Times, Salon, and Granta. In 2000 and 2002 he taught at Berkeley and Princeton, and he currently lectures in the U.S. and Europe. He lives in Berkeley, California.