Brendan Brohan's Reviews > Bob Dylan in America

Bob Dylan in America by Sean Wilentz
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Jul 17, 12

Read from July 13 to 17, 2012



Just finished reading this book and Sean Wilentz has ensured that there is something for everyone in it. Unfortunately for me, much of what is in it is not to my taste. The book flip flops between Dylan biography, mostly as seen from the perspective of key albums in his career and academic treatise on the history of folk. The first chapter is a rather dense analysis of the works of Aaron Copland and how it may have influenced the young Dylan, not a fun start to the book. The second chapter deals with Dylan's relationship with the Beat Generation and in particular with Allen Ginsberg. The rest of the book looks at his works Early, Later and Recent in his career and I found some of the chapters much more interesting than others e.g. The Making of Blonde on Blonde, The Rolling Thunder Review and The Modern Minstrel Returns. The analysis of Modern Times showing the level of plagiarism enacted by Dylan was particularly interesting but I found that the music was dissected and analysed by Wilentz to a degree that the soul of the music was often forgotten. Most of the tracks on Modern Times appeal to for the melody and words they present - mostly that's all I ask from my music. In the middle of the book, in the aptly titled Part IV Interlude, there are two academic chapters on the folk tune Delia, and Dylan and The Sacred Harp, again a bit dense for my taste. If you want a straightforward biography of Dylan, this is not the place to start. However, if you are a folk aficionado who wants to delve deep into the origins of the progenitors of Dylan's songs, you may well get more from this book than I did.
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07/17/2012 page 400
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