Bob Dylan in America

  • Title: Bob Dylan in America
  • Author: Sean Wilentz
  • ISBN: 9780385529884
  • Page: 114
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Bob Dylan in America One of America s finest historians shows us how Bob Dylan one of the country s greatest and most enduring artists still surprises and moves us after all these years Growing up in Greenwich Village
    One of America s finest historians shows us how Bob Dylan, one of the country s greatest and most enduring artists, still surprises and moves us after all these years Growing up in Greenwich Village, Sean Wilentz discovered the music of Bob Dylan as a young teenager almost half a century later, he revisits Dylan s work with the skills of an eminent American historian asOne of America s finest historians shows us how Bob Dylan, one of the country s greatest and most enduring artists, still surprises and moves us after all these years Growing up in Greenwich Village, Sean Wilentz discov ered the music of Bob Dylan as a young teenager almost half a century later, he revisits Dylan s work with the skills of an eminent American historian as well as the passion of a fan Drawn in part from Wilentz s essays as historian in residence of Dylan s official website, Bob Dylan in America is a unique blend of fact, interpretation, and affinity a book that, much like its subject, shifts gears and changes shape as the occasion warrants Beginning with his explosion onto the scene in 1961, this book follows Dylan as he continues to develop a body of musical and literary work unique in our cultural history Wilentz s approach places Dylan s music in the context of its time, including the early influences of Popular Front ideology and Beat aesthetics, and offers a larger critical appreciation of Dylan as both a song writer and performer down to the present Wilentz has had unprecedented access to studio tapes, recording notes, rare photographs, and other materials, all of which allow him to tell Dylan s story and that of such masterpieces as Blonde on Blonde with an unprecedented authenticity and richness Bob Dylan in America groundbreaking, comprehensive, totally absorbing is the result of an author and a subject brilliantly met.

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    About Sean Wilentz


    1. Sean Wilentz b 1951 is the Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor of History at Princeton University, where he has taught since 1979In his spare writing time, he is historian in residence at Bob Dylan s official website, bobdylan


    698 Comments


    1. 11 Oct 2010The latest book on the legendary singer brings it all back home literally.A quick online search for books about Bob Dylan claims that an astonishing 1532 works are currently available, and that’s most likely the tip of the iceberg. So why this one? What does Sean Wilentz’s offering tell us – about anything? Is Dylan even still relevant?A man in the carriage of the Glasgow-bound commuter train the other morning certainly thought so and was intrigued by the latest Dylan biography [...]

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    2. Sean Wilentz's "Bob Dylan in America" follows Greil Marcus's "The Old, Weird America" as an attempt to place Dylan in the cultural history of the United States, and it's a much more coherent read.What Wilentz does is compare Dylan's artistic development with the artistic and political milieu that he would have brushed against as a boy, how that milieu moved him in a particular direction as a young artist, and how those connections formed a web as he matured and moved through life. For instance, [...]

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    3. It's about time a professional historian addressed dylan's greatest talentweaving and hurling vast gobs of americana into folk/pop/country/rock/blues music for the last 50 years. wilentz expertly dissects greil marcus's 'weird old america' in a way that rock journalists cannot even approach. dylan fans will enjoy. music fans might cry uncle. the 'dylan is a great songwriter but can't sing' crowd should stay away. homeschoolers in the 'self learn' movement will delight upon reading about dylan's [...]

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    4. On the one hand, Sean Wilentz has written a good book about Bob Dylan, which is not easy to do. It's a completely serviceable book; scholars and critics writing about Dylan will be able to use it, which gets it into the orbit of perhaps only five to ten other Dylan books of which I'm aware. A critical biography, Wilentz trains his analysis on five moments in Dylan's working life: the Blonde on Blonde sessions; the 1975 Rolling Thunder tour; the period of Christian apotheosis culminating in recor [...]

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    5. Wilentz, a prize-winning American historian and a Bob Dylan fan succeeds, after a skippable introduction, in producing an engaging and highly informative account of Dylan’s place in American music and how American cultural forces have influenced and continue to influence Dylan. He commences with Aaron Copland and the politics of the radical left in the 1930s: Steinbeck, Blitzstein, the WPA, Allan Lomax and proceeds to the more direct influences of Woody Guthrie and the Weavers and Allen Ginsbe [...]

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    6. I'm not the type of fan who needs to read about every teenage girlfriend, high school band, or father-son fight of the musicians I respect, and so I definitely appreciate Wilentz's approach to Dylan: a series of loosely-connected essays on different moments in his career thus far. For the same reason, I am grateful that the author writes in the voice of a historian and critic rather than that of a tabloid reporter or biographer.That said, the essays aren't all of the same caliber. While the essa [...]

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    7. This book is a little slow to start but gradually picks up steam. It is more accurately a collection of essays, which address with varying success, the theme of painting Bob Dylan as a master absorber and re-former of numerous pieces of artistic arcana ranging from Aaron Copland (this is not very convincing) through black blues roots of a hundred years ago. The more interesting essays are in the second half of the book, where the author analyzes Dylan's twin set of folk albums of the early 90's [...]

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    8. I’ve always liked Bob Dylan’s work and so I looked forward to this.I was horribly, horribly disappointed.The shopping list in my pocket could have been read to more effect that this load of dry academic drivel.Bob Dylan is one of the most influential musicians of our time and this guy just doesn’t get that in any way shape or form….but don’t just take my word for it, ask someone else who doesn’t like it.

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    9. In this part-biography, part-cultural history, Sean Wilentz explores the role Bob Dylan has played in the cultural landscape and history of the United States. Although the historian charts a biographical sketch of the multi-faceted artist, in Bob Dylan in America Wilentz focuses on Dylan’s links to various points in U.S. history, beginning with connections to 1940s and 1950s music and culture. Rooted in historical methods with personal reflection added to the narrative, Wilentz’ invites read [...]

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    10. WAIT! Before all you anti-Dylan people (the "he can't sing, he just mumbles" crowd, which might be a little more than half the world population) see the title and proceed to ignore anything I have to say here: Read this book anyway! If you have ANY interest in music (beyond FM radio and Lady Gaga downloads) and its connections to poetry, politics, theatre, film, and culture generally, Bob Dylan in America presents a fascinating, readable, far-ranging history not just of Dylan's work and his plac [...]

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    11. If you read Dylan's Chronicles Volume 1, you were exposed to the concept that you could take a few specific periods of time, write long explanative anecdotes about them, and call it an autobiography. Dylan made this work. In "Bob Dylan in America", Wilentz tries something very similar. He picks some specific songs, a recording session, a particular concert, a couple of tours, and the topic of plagiarism to explain how Dylan extends American music. But he does this with extended descriptions. I g [...]

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    12. I have read many biographies of musicians and artists, always interested to learn about their creative methods. I am regularly disappointed with these biographies as they tend to focus on the more tabloid aspects of the composer's life. I am happy to find a book that focuses on the art more than the artist.Written by a history professor at Princeton University, this book is as much about the American experience as it is about Bob Dylan. While the material is presented in chronological order, it [...]

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    13. Bob Dylan in America is the story of Bob Dylan the man and his music: its creation, its evolution, its reinterpretation. The author places Bob Dylan in America: in its cultural and political history.Those looking for full biography may be disappointed. Those looking for Bob Dylan the man, will find much of him here. Readers learn how wide Bob Dylan's musical interest has been. Wilentz shows there is hardly an American musical genre that Bob Dylan has not appreciated, learned from and incorporate [...]

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    14. I think I would rename this book, Why does Bob Dylan wear cowboy hats?I'm a fan of Dylan, he's done some brilliant things. But Wilentz points out something--that every body knows, but doesnt pay too much attention to--which is that Dylan (like all music industry folks and pop culture personalities) has sculpted his own image--an image that may or may not have a whole lot in common with the REAL Robert Zimmerman (whatever that means). I've been on both sides of the fence as to whether sculpting y [...]

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    15. The author might be one of the greatest historians of our time, but I could not get through his writing. I was hoping to learn about Bob Dylan. The author spent much of the time on other artists and how they influenced Dylan (yes, that's very important) but I was looking for a biography on Dylan the person, how Dylan grew up, how he became interested in music, his environment, schooling, and friends. I acknowledge it's important to know who influenced Dylan and the cultural environment at the ti [...]

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    16. I think it was 10 discs. I listened to the first two. It wasn't bringing anything to the table. Spent a lot of time talking about Aaron Copland and Allen Ginsburg and what they were up to, but didn't did a good job of connecting the dots and explaining why it was that the author believed these men had a big impact on Dylan. Especially with Copland. I was expecting him to play snippets of Copland and Dylan songs, then explain why they were similar or connected. Instead, I heard phrases like, "Dyl [...]

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    17. 4.5*This started off pretty good, slowly became more interesting, and then turned into a flat-out page-turner. My favorite parts were the Blonde on Blonde sessions, Rolling Thunder Revue, Delia & the entire end/recent period. Absolutely fascinating stuff!

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    18. Meet me in the morning, 56th and WabashaHoney, we could be in KansasBy time the snow begins to thaw

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    19. Wide-ranging and meandering, this isn't as snooze-inducing as Greil Marcus, but it's close.

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    20. A Dylan book that's only loosely about Dylan. Wilentz shows off his chops as a historian by providing a description of a host of musical individuals and movements that affected Dylan at various points during his career: Aaron Copland and the Popular Front folk movement; the Beats; circuses; traveling minstrels; traditional hymn books from the 19th century; the figures behind Delia; a host of blues figures who inspired Love and Theft, and then finally Bing Crosby. Wilentz correctly presents Dylan [...]

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    21. Wilentz opens the book with an essay on Aaron Copland that felt terribly misplaced as he had no discernible impact on Bob Dylan's music. By the end of the book, it became evident what the connection was to Wilentz, but it was nevertheless a misfire that set an odd tone for a book that turned out to be an insightful read into Bob Dylan the artist and historian/folklorist. The book gives many hints on the artists who Dylan encountered and influenced his work. His work is like a forensic historian, [...]

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    22. A slightly confused ramble through the old weird America that permeates Bob Dylan’s work - vaudeville, early movies, folk and blues - and a kind of celebration of the masterful theft (with love) Bob has pulled off for over half a century. Still, entertaining and classy, but permanently a step or two behind. the shadows of the slippery subjectwho is always shedding off one more layer of skin and always ahead of the persecutor within.

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    23. I was al little disappointed with this book. It’s really what’s the word specific, or perhaps random. Bunch of facts scattered around, sometimes pretty interesting, sometimes dull, and not always too coherent. The author’s personal memories are touching but also makes this book scatter pretty or much to only what the author’s experience with Dylan is. It does pour some light on his later works which is nice. I’d recommend this book only to seriously heavy dylanologists.

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    24. PRET-TEE Dry. If you are a serious music buff and historian you will like it a lot. I was yawning at times as the details got to be too much. I DO really appreciate the appendix though, showing a list of songs & albums that were mentioned in the book - this is a great source to help me expand my music collection.

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    25. I'm a pretty casual Dylan fan, but this was an enjoyable exploration of his influences and breakdown of his evolution. I'd recommend this as a quick read to any fan of music, poetry, or 20th century American history.

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    26. Need to read this. I know some of Wilentz's other work.This book appeared the same month I saw Bob Dylan in concert: September 2010. Here is my review of that concert. Still need to read the book.Have I Ever Told You About the Time I Saw Bob Dylan? (Concert Review)Chris Schlect, 21 September 2010A couple weeks back I went on a history field trip to visit a famous artifact. I saw Bob Dylan in concert. Bankroft Prize-winning historian Sean Wilentz asserts that Dylan holds a central place in 20th c [...]

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    27. Sean Wilentz’s Bob Dylan in America includes this passage describing Dylan’s 1966 performance in Paris at which he draped a U.S flag on the stage for the second half of the concert eliciting “U.S. go home!” jeers from the French audience:…the curtains part, and there they see to their horror, attached to the backdrop, the emblem of everything they are coming to hate, the emblem of napalm and Coca-Cola and white racism and colonialism and imagination’s death. It is a huge fifty-star A [...]

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    28. Review title: Bob Dylan masqueradingIn the official Bootleg Series Vol. 6 release of a 1964 Halloween-night concert form the Philharmonic Hall in New York City, Dylan introduced one of his songs by announcing "It's just Halloween. I have my Bob Dylan mask on! I'm masquerading." He drawls out the end of the last word into a laugh both delighted by the pun and knowing about the ironic truth of it. Here was the upper-Midwestern Jewish boy Robert Zimmerman entertaining the downturn cultural elite be [...]

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    29. Bob Dylan in America is historian Sean Wilentz’s study of how various currents and touchstones of American culture directly and indirectly affected the music of Bob Dylan. Not at all a biography, Wilentz’s book examines critical points in Dylan’s career and explores the American influences on those moments and phases. Wilentz provides detailed accounts of these Dylan influences, including Aaron Copland, Blind Willie McTell, The Sacred Harp (an early American hymnal), and variations of the [...]

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    30. Bob Dylan is 70 years old and has been making music for over fifty years. In this rather unconventional biography historian Sean Wilentz focuses not on the biography but rather the discography. The music Dylan wrote and sang, the music that influenced him and a history of these songs that Dylan recovered and reinterpreted. One example is Dylan's great version of the old blues song, "Blind Willie McTell." Wilentz relates the story of the original singer, the characters and stories that inspired t [...]

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