Folk Music: A Bob Dylan Biography in Seven Songs

Yale Univ. Oct. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9780300255317. $27.50. MUSIC
“There are no straight lines in the language songs speak,” music journalist Marcus (More Real Life Rock) declares—and demonstrates—in his latest work. The book is not a linear biography; rather, it’s a series of ruminations. Marcus, a critic familiar to the Bob Dylan fan community, is known for drawing on a wide spectrum of references—not all of them musical—to get his points across. His zigzag writing is sensory, using disparate comparisons and analogies to turn facts into feelings and feelings into facts. Reading one of these essays is a little bit like listening to Dylan’s own winding narrative lyricism. The author draws upon the same pop art approach as Dylan himself, merging imagery from popular and mass culture into fine art sensibilities. The result is as confounding to the uninitiated as it is rewarding to the converted.
VERDICT An informative, if impressionistic, reflection on one of the 20th century’s greatest artists, by one of his biggest advocates.
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