The Philosophy of Modern Song

S. & S. Nov. 2022. 340p. ISBN 9781451648706. $45. MUSIC
Dylan (Chronicles, Vol. 1) won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature for creating new poetic expressions within the American song tradition, and he extends these expressions into this new collection of 60 essays on the nature of popular music. One origin for this project may be World Gone Wrong, Dylan’s 1993 album of folk song covers with self-penned liner notes that described each song in great detail. Then, as now, the writing is authoritative and from a lifetime of memories and experiences that have informed his perspective and opinions, not as a professional historian or reporter. It is this unique outlook that colors every opinion and fact throughout the book. Consequently, the reader’s interest in Dylan’s music is likely to match their attraction to Dylan’s opinions on music.
VERDICT This is a fascinating and personalized journey through 20th-century popular music that’s guided by one of its luminaries.
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