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The Rose and the Briar: Death, Love and Liberty in the American Ballad Hardcover – 8 Mar 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.; 1st ed edition (8 Mar. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393059545
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393059540
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 18.4 x 3.4 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,198,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Greil Marcus is the author of Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads, Lipstick Traces, and Mystery Train. An Old Dominion Fellow at Princeton University in 2002, he lives in Berkeley, California. Sean Wilentz is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of History and director of the Program in American Studies at Princeton University. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: 9 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
the roses are worth the thorns 16 April 2006
By Emmett Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There are some really amazing essays here, notably, Greil Marcus's envoi. Dave Marsh on "Barbara Allen" lifts a lot of ancient stuff out of the shadows and sets it in a clean, well lighted place. Sarah Vowell on "John Brown's Body" tells us a lot more about the ballad than we might have imagined. Cecil Brown on "Frankie and Albert" is a delight. Frankie's life is worthy of several ballads. R. Crumb's graphics make this a classic. His letter to the editor slaps a few of the other essayists out of the fetid air like horse flies. The graphics are fine, so I don't know what a previous reviewer was complaining about. Maybe he got a bad a copy.

There are some real clunkers here, however. Wendy Lesser's piece is lost at sea. This is such a dissappointment when there is so much to say about Dylan, and she is such a fine writer, and Greil Marcus has written such great stuff on Dylan. Stanley Crouch's essay is fine, but it has nothing to do with ballads. David Thomas is a high-fallootin intellectualizer. "An imperative that derives from a gestalt of geography, sound, and culture fixes and vitalizes and drives certain musics." Wouldn't you love to see this guy have a conversation with Bob Dylan? Would he know a ballad if he stepped on one barefoot?
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Uneven but satisfying 28 Dec. 2004
By Buck Leonard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book, and the accompanying CD, have been needed for a long time. But I was disappointed by the fact that not all of the essays accompanying songs are about the songs as much as the interpretations of the individual writers about what the songs mean to them. Frankly, I wasn't interested in that, just as I'm not interested in how these songs remind people of how much they hate George W. Bush or the political right. The irony is that these songs are, in effect, red state songs, if you want to look it from a completely superficial standpoint. But these songs speak to everybody, and always have. Tying political points to them drags down the appreciation one feels. I especially enjoyed it when the essays went into the particular events behind the songs, or in the case of "El Paso," how the song was written and recorded. Perhaps what I wanted was another version of "Stagolee Shot Billy," a wonderful study of the Stagger Lee mythos. I would recommend this book to anyone, even with those reservations.
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
American hearts are broken all over and have been for years 5 Dec. 2004
By Crystal Mckinney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
So, I'm reading this amazing book, The Rose and the Briar: Death, Love and Liberty in the American Ballad and it's smart and it's emotional and it makes *me* feel smart and also, emotional. It takes all these well-known ballads and makes you really think about how these songs have stood the test of time. What makes them resonate after all these years? I'm awed and utterly fascinated.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A great idea but a disappointing and poorly produced book. 22 Oct. 2005
By Always Reading - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I could hardly wait to read this book when I learned about it since so little has been written about the long history of loving these songs. While the authors do a good job of talking about how they feel about the songs, they don't delve very deep. Most disappointing, though, is the production quality. Jon Langford's and R. Crumb's visual interpretations of their chosen ballads look as if they are very interesting but the reproductions of their drawings are so blurry that they are nearly indecipherable.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An extraordinary literary and musical adventure 16 Jun. 2005
By Kate Dollar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book. The explorations of various folk songs (and what comprises a "folk" song) range from intriguing academic insights to fictional interpretations of the histories and even biographies of various songs: wonderful and inventive and satisfying. It was given to me by a friend and I am buying it for at least three more. Incredible
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