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Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads Paperback – 6 Jul 2006
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"'Greil Marcus is simply peerless, not only as a rock writer but as a cultural historian.' Nick Hornby 'Part rhapsody, part social history and part biography, always entirely passionate.' Guardian"
Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads by Greil Marcus: 'Marcus seems to understand Dylan and the song intuitively. His ideas burn with a fierce intelligence and the song takes on a new life in that crucible.' (Hanif Kureishi)See all Product description
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It's an interesting and pleasant read, although I thought the links with other songs were a bit tenuous in places (I'd agree with the other reviewer who found the final link to The Pet Shop Boy's "Go West" hard to fathom). And the fact that the last hundred pages were given over to a transcription of studio chatter during the session, a list of references and an index suggests that there was never really enough material here for a book. Perhaps it would have been different if the author had been able to supplement his interview of Al Kooper (who played at the session) by speaking to Dylan himself about his most famous song, but - perhaps not surprisingly - this didn't come to pass.
This book helps see things a bit more clearly and gives background and highlights of the sessions, issues and achievements.
Great account of why Dylan was so great and how despite all the pressures he produced all his ground breaking stories and songs.
You will never listen to 'Like A Rollin' Stone' the same way ever again.
He ignores Dylan's decision to come to the 1969 Isle of Wight not to Woodstock but gives special background to the 1966 Judas tour.
There are a lot of very good points made in this magnum opus, a 200+ plus page book about a remarkable 6 minute song. Marcus writes lucidly about mid-sixties America and pop culture (we are contemporaries, but I am a New Yorker, while Marcus is from the Bay area). He sure knows his Dylan - frighteningly so. There are good cameos about Mike Bloomfield (a few years ahead of Clapton, for all of you English fans who think it was the white Brits who discovered Black blues first) and Al Kooper, the man who contributed the haunting organ, despite being a guitar player. Bob Dylan, the great enigma, emerges a tad more clearly from all the froth.
I agree with Marcus that Dylan's genius is apparent on all of Highway 61 and especially on this wonderful song, but I believe his transition to rock and roll started on Bringing It All Back Home and continued to build in intensity and quality on Blonde On Blonde, an album Marcus says little to nothing about. I do agree that it changed music forever in a way that no other Dylan song did, and that it is worth the non-stop rhapsodic commentary.
But there is so much opinionated drivel in this book, the celebration of the relatively cheesy Beatles (is he serious in comparing the Beatles' progression from a male Shirelles to valid, original artists comparable to Dylan?) and fun but super-silly Rolling Stones (he calls the raucous Let it Bleed the second best rock and roll album ever) and the finale that lauds the ludicrous Pet Shop Boys (who might share a gerbil with Greil, I guess), that all of the good points made are undercut. Marcus comes across as a male groupie of some of the most tedious, over-ripe tripe I've ever heard.
Marcus should have kept to the subject more closely and stopped his over-rapturous praise of relative mediocrity. Dylan yes, the rest - are you kidding?
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