Synopses & Reviews
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; Marcuss 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.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"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....Marcus' words are restless and probing — a true match for Dylan's voice." Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone, October, 2010
andldquo;As a critic, Greil Marcus is a tough crowdandmdash;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 witandhellip;. In this essential anthology, Marcus chronicles Dylan's ups and downsandhellip;. The collection reads like the journal of a 40-year love storyandhellip;. Through it all, Marcus' words are restless and probingandmdash;a true match for Dylan's voice.andquot;
and#160;Book Page, December 2010
andldquo;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 Marcusandhellip;. But this is more than a study of Dylanandmdash;itandrsquo;s a jagged portrait of the age.andrdquo;and#160;American Scholar, Winter 2011
andldquo;No cultural critic has contemplated the meaning of Dylanandrsquo;s music and career more thoroughly than Greil Marcusandhellip;. What makes this collection of writings so welcome is that Marcusandrsquo;s career as a critic began just after those profound and turbulent times; over half the book covers Dylanandrsquo;s career since 1990andhellip;. Reading some 40 years of Marcusandrsquo;s criticism on Bob Dylan allows us to appreciate more fully than we have before the long arc of the musicianandrsquo;s career. It also displays the development of the criticandrsquo;s vision of America.andrdquo;and#160;San Francisco Chronicle, November 28, 2010
andldquo;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.andrdquo;and#160;Boston Globe, November 26, 2010
andldquo;If anyone is worthy of an entire collection of critiques of Bob Dylan, itandrsquo;s Marcus. The rock critic and cultural commentator has astutely chronicled Dylanandrsquo;s trajectory for more than four decades through record reviews, essays, and books.andrdquo;and#160;The Forward, November 22, 2010
andldquo;So how best to understand Bob Dylan? Miles Davis, another modern master of American music, once said, andlsquo;Donandrsquo;t play whatandrsquo;s there, play whatandrsquo;s not there.andrsquo; Playing whatandrsquo;s there and whatandrsquo;s not there as a critic andmdash; a mode familiar to Dylan playing out his influences as an artist, as well andmdash; Marcus allows Dylanandrsquo;s work to be heard thicker, stranger, more boldly and with more imagination than we could hear it on our own.andrdquo;
and#160;Minneapolis Start Tribune, Best Nonfiction of 2010
andldquo;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.andrdquo;
Robert Loss , Bookslut, December 6, 2010
andldquo;Eccentric, volatile, persuasive: Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus: Writings 1968-2010 reads like the free adventure offered by its subjectandhellip;. A clutch of dispatches from a correspondent grown skeptical but still capable of being surprised -- who in fact wants to be surprisedandhellip;. Marcus is simply one of the few in his field who can match Dylan on a subject they both find fascinating: America.andrdquo;
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.
About the Author
Greil Marcus is the author of When That Rough God Goes Riding and Like a Rolling Stone (both with PublicAffairs), The Old Weird America, The Shape of Things to Come, Mystery Train, Dead Elvis, In the Fascist Bathroom, and other books; a twentieth anniversary edition of his Lipstick Traces was published in 2009. With Werner Sollors he is the editor of A New Literary History of America, published by Harvard University Press. Since 2000 he has taught at Princeton, Berkeley, Minnesota, and the New School in New York; his column Real Life Rock Top 10 appears regularly in the Believer. He lives in Berkeley.