‘Folk Music – A Bob Dylan Biography In Seven Songs’ by Greil Marcus: The Holy Grail

by Paul Wilner

“So this is a book of cigarette butts,’’ Greil Marcus writes, without apology, in Folk Music – A Bob Dylan Biography In Seven Songs (Yale University Press; 288 pages), his latest attempt to interweave the complicated legacy of the Nobel Prize-winning hobo from Hibbing with Lincoln’s mystic chords of memory, our unresolved racial divide, and the “wild mercury sound’’ emanating from those trying to stand their ground in an invisible republic far outside the white noise of hot takes and cold comfort. He’s referring, of course, to the unaccountable adulation Dylan (still) draws from armies of obsessed fans, quoting from […]

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Hanging in the Balance, Like a Puppet on a Hand: Bob Dylan and the Nobel Prize


“This is really a drag—and a bore,’’ the doomed jazzster Chet Baker tells director Bruce Weber in Let’s Get Lost, in response to (sympathetic) inquiries about his drug habits. The same could be said of the recent controversy over the decision to award the Nobel Prize in Literature to Bob Dylan. In a certain sense, it all makes sense: the high-minded indignation from select members of the literary Establishment (though, some, like Salman Rushdie and Joyce Carol Oates, welcomed the decision), and disgusted repudiation of boomer nostalgia (we get it, Irvine Welsh) in other quarters. It’s of a piece with the kind […]

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