Synopses & Reviews
Acclaimed cultural critic Greil Marcus tells the story of Bob Dylan through the lens of seven penetrating songs
Across seven decades, Bob Dylan has been the first singer of American song. As a writer and performer, he has rewritten the national songbook in a way that comes from his own vision and yet can feel as if it belongs to anyone who might listen.
In Folk Music, Greil Marcus tells Dylan's story through seven of his most transformative songs. Marcus's point of departure is Dylan's ability to "see myself in others." Like Dylan's songs, this book is a work of implicit patriotism and creative skepticism. It illuminates Dylan's continuing presence and relevance through his empathy — his imaginative identification with other people. This is not only a deeply felt telling of the life and times of Bob Dylan, but a rich history of American folk songs and the new life they were given as Dylan sat down to write his own.
"Here is Greil Marcus at his most brilliantly insightful, eloquent, persuasive, brimming with information about Bob Dylan and his music, unique in his ability to combine the most candid sort of memoirist prose with truly inspired commentary. As Dylan 'sees himself' in his subjects, so Greil Marcus 'sees himself' in Dylan, the most original musical genius of our time, the perfect subject for the most original music critic of our time." Joyce Carol Oates
"Decade after decade, Greil Marcus has proven himself to be not only a brilliant cultural critic about the music, lives, and stories that have helped shape contemporary American consciousness; he has also done much to articulate why our music has always stood at the axis of sound and politics. This book is not only a valuable addition to the canon, it further elevates Marcus to what he has always been: a supreme artist-critic." Hilton Als
"This is the good stuff: the stuff you can't usually get in books. Greil Marcus is already the most important chronicler of Dylan. But here he outdoes himself. This book is rich with deep understanding, with caustically funny commentary, and a psychoanalysis, much needed, of Bob Dylan and of America." Rachel Kushner
"Splendid biographical essays on that most elusive of subjects, the shape-shifter once known as Bobby Zimmerman….Marcus delivers yet another essential work of music journalism." Kirkus Review (Starred Review)
About the Author
Greil Marcus is the author of many books, from Mystery Train to Under the Red White and Blue: Patriotism, Disenchantment and the Stubborn Myth of the Great Gatsby. With Werner Sollors he is the editor of A New Literary History of America.