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Bob Dylan: Writings 1968-2010

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  294 ratings  ·  27 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 Americ ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by PublicAffairs (first published September 24th 2010)
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Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who has read reviews of classic albums written at the time of their release understands how fascinatingly wrong contemporary writers can be when faced with the monumental albums we take for granted. The music world loves the story of the artist who enacted such a sea change that they were panned upon release only to be heralded in hindsight: laughing about those music executives that passed on The Beatles, smirking at those who felt Radiohead let everyone down with Kid A, stunned at the p ...more
Nov 23, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music-writing
I'm a fan of Marcus' book on the way Dylan emerges from Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes (1997). Unfortunately, Marcus changed that book's title to "The Old Weird America" when it was republished as a paperback. This had been the title of the Smith chapter from Invisible Republic, a title Marcus appropriated from a phrase of Kenneth Rexroth's, "the old free America." Rexroth was talking about the midwestern culture of the pre-first wo ...more
Amit Gairola
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very nice collection of articles and musings that trace Dylan’s career.
Blog on Books
Dec 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There may be no more thorough chronicler over the four decades of Bob Dylan's musical life, than one of America's top rock writers, Greil Marcus. Marcus, the Berkeley-based former Rolling Stone editor and author has covered Dylan since the sixties and in this book "Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus: Writings 1968-2010," (Public Affairs) the author serves as editor, compiling every last article - from Stone to the Village Voice to the long-forgotten New West magazine - to paint an intensely detailed port ...more
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a phenomenal collection of music writing; even the work that doesn't seem to focus on Dylan directly only adds to the overall coloring Marcus gives to so monumental a man. In terms of focus, I'm entirely glad that a good amount of writing here focuses on the not-so-good years of Dylan's career; I'm inspired to give these overlooked records another spin. ...more
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Naturally the longer pieces are the most satisfying but even GM’s brief Top Ten trinkets can dazzle and make one think. This guy is a treasure.
Bob Peru
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
kind of a hater of 80’s dylan.
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Blunt force criticism, swollen and violet.
James Klagge
Nov 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, essays
I doubt Greil Marcus is a pleasant person, and I don't often agree with him, but he is well worth reading when it comes to Bob Dylan, rock music, blues, or old-time music. He knows a huge amount, and always has an opinion. He is very much a critic--in that he is very judgemental. I suppose that is not surprising, since he is basically paid to have an opinion. He is an intelligent music listener, which I aspire to be. He knows a lot about history, influences, social context, resonances--things th ...more
Jun 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find myself less awed by Marcus' prose and his (occasionally ponderous) tangents than I used to be. But one of my favorite writers writing about my favorite musician over the course of more than 40 years? Yes, please. There's so much here that I'd never read before, particularly much of the stuff from the '70s, that by the time I reached the more familiar entries, they read like new. Even the pieces that seem unrelated help contextualize Marcus' take on Dylan, while also being themselves conte ...more
Feb 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good collection of his many articles, reviews, etc. dealing with Bob Dylan. Some of the more interesting pieces are only partially about Dylan, such as a good essay about "The myth of the open road" in American music (Springsteen, Bob Seger, Chuck Berry.........).

The besetting vice of any column collection is repetitiveness. Most of us have only so many ideas. I'm sure that if I had read these at the pace at which they were published, a few per year, it would have been fine, but going back to b
Jerry Oliver
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marcus can make me crazy with his pretensions and his opinions and the way he can go on and on and on but at the same time I wouldn't miss reading one his books...what can I say? He's a lot like his subject. I might not like everything he puts out but it's always worth reading - or listening to.
Even when Greil Marcus doesn't like a song, that doesn't mean he won't come around and change his mind even years later when it reaches him for some reason.
There probably isn't anyone one writing who
Jun 30, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
For lovers of books about music, take a look at: Pitchfork's 60 best music books:

Plenty of good stuff here including two by Greil Marcus, Miles Davis' Autobiography, Revolution in the Head, England's Dreaming, Lester Bangs' collected works, Bob Dylan's Chronicles. I was a bit surprised to see Daniel J. Levitin's This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human ObsessionThis Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, which I found pretty banal in terms of it
Jun 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, dylan
Greil Marcus has been writing about Bob Dylan for over forty years. ! This 400+ tome is a chronological selection of articles, reviews, musings, and fragments he has written about Dylan (or subjects touching on Dylan, or in rare cases that just mention him in passing but which still belong in the book). It doesn't include anything from the whole books he has written on Dylan ("Invisible Republic" aka "Old Weird America", about the Basement Tapes, or his one about "Like a Rolling Stone" or his ma ...more
Feb 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked Mystery Train and The Doors better than this book. Probably would have enjoyed this more if I were more acquainted with Dylan's lyrics. Having not lived through the '60s, I have kind of always viewed Bob Dylan as someone who started a revolution of sorts and then got rich and comfortable later. He even says in Chronicles that he wanted the picket fence just like everyone else. (He called the cops on some hippies when they broke into his house. What happened to your revolution Bob? I thou ...more
Dec 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was going to read this one out of duty more than anything; lots of pieces in here I didn't' remember reading when they first appeared (lots I did). But I ended up enjoying a lot more than I expected to. I'll probably pick up a used or remainder copy. :) There are a few pieces in here I'd like to come back to, such as the longer piece about Harry Smith. But some Marcus flaws can really wear on you. The style is hyperbolic and the judgements often too extreme. Still, if you're a person like me, ...more
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a terrific book.

I am, admittedly, a Dylan fanatic. But don't be put off by the subject even if you are not a fan of Dylan's music. Greil Marcus uses the music as a lens to examine American culture and human nature in a manner that is utterly brilliant.

One great artist shares his take on the work of another--and in the process brings insight, illumination, and inspiration to the reader.
Nov 06, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: etats-unis
L'auteur est d'une pédanterie très désagréable, le livre est complètement déstructuré et on en ressort sans en avoir appris plus sur Bob Dylan et sa musique. Par contre Greil Marcus nous a bien fait sentir et comprendre que lui, il s'y connait.
Deux étoiles parce que je garde en mémoire un chapitre qui surnage et que j'ai apprécié.
En tout cas, je le déconseille franchement.
M. Sarki
Mar 22, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: abandoned
Pretty poor writing by a guy who makes more money than I do by doing what he obviously loves. His writing just isn't interesting, no matter the topic, or maybe it is that Greil Marcus just isn't. I read what I could and had to let it go. Bob Dylan is worth better than this clown gives us, no matter that Pitchfork says otherwise. ...more
Jun 24, 2016 rated it liked it
A lot of repetition and, being familiar with Marcus' writing, it gets to be a little bit of a drag in times, but in small bits, I have always enjoyed his insights and the knowledge that he shares within his articles. These tidbits are why I continue to read musical critiques, as I often found myself going out and looking up some songs and artists that I had not heard before or in awhile. ...more
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not so good, 2.0. I was expecting w biography and the book is mainly in-depth analysis of Dylan's music over the decades with much reproduction of Marcus's writing on the topic over the years. Interesting at times but I was disappointed and actually just skimmed a lot the the last third of the book. ...more
Roderick Mcgillis
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth the price of admission for the essay on the road in American literature and music and for the overview of the song "Masters of War." Some of the shorter pieces are forgettable and Marcus's prose is often too precious for my liking. But finally this is a book filled with interesting bits of history and some fascinating insights. ...more
May 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dylan-centric
Marcus compiled years of material on he had written on Dylan for this book. The pieces crossing the decades offer wonderful samplings of the impact of Dylan and the things that impacted him. Thoughtful and insightful reviews that delve into the music, the culture, and the history that influences Dylan.
Gareth Murphy
It's a great compendium of articles which is somewhat appropriate to his subject, rather than a monograph which can become overkill. He tends to get very ornate very quickly so the editing is really helpful. ...more
Jun 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At 300 pages, this would have been a 5 star it is, Greil's deep and insightful takes on Dylan (and his digressions farther from the fold of the subject) provide new vantage points from which to admire Dylan's artistry, influences, and importance. Well worth the read! ...more
Dec 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm drawn to Marcus' work despite the fact that he has mined Dylan and Harry Smith's Anthology to the max. I admit that his passion for the music of Dylan and anything else that he likes is contagious. He also visualizes songs as vignettes in a larger story. He can make the mundane sound good. ...more
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Insightful deep criticism.
Ray Murdoch
rated it it was amazing
Jan 13, 2018
Tom Woodhouse
rated it liked it
Jan 07, 2014
rated it really liked it
Jun 28, 2012
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Greil Marcus is the author of Mystery Train (1975), Lipstick Traces (1989), The Shape of Things to Come (2006), When that Rough God Goes Riding and Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus (both 2010), and other books. With Werner Sollors he is the editor of A New Literary History of America (2009). In recent years he has taught at Berkeley, Princeton, Minnesota, NYU, and the New School in New York. He lives in ...more

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