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Chimes of freedom : the politics of Bob Dylan's art
Marqusee, Mike.
Adult Nonfiction ML420.D98 M166 2003

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From Publishers' Weekly:

This intelligent analysis examines the enigmatic rock icon's musical development within the context of the political turbulence of the 1960s. Marqusee, who turned 14 in 1967, knows the territory: he used the same historical format to re-examine another American hero in Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties. He charts Dylan's rapid transformations-from reluctant protest singer to Newport Folk Festival "dandy," then introverted pragmatist behind The Basement Tapes-alongside the decade's defining events: the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, Woodstock. "Few ages of social change have been as well served artistically as the American sixties were by Dylan," he writes. Marqusee enlivens his sometimes dry analysis with song lyrics, references to liner notes and previously published interviews with Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger and other notable figures of the decade. He briefly explores the impact of artists like Woody Guthrie, Allen Ginsberg and Curtis Mayfield on Dylan, and explores well-documented examples of Dylan's longtime use of literature, folklore, newspaper articles, fragments of dialogue, the Bible and pieces of history in his songs. "He was a magpie," Marqusee writes. "Even a casual acquaintance with Eliot, cummings, the French symbolists, and the surrealists left traces in his work." While the book never lapses into obsequiousness and does not require an intimate familiarity with Dylan's work to make sense, its academic tone might make it a challenge to expand its readership much beyond Dylan's core fan base and to differentiate it from the sea of other Dylan-inspired tomes on the shelves. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

From Library Journal:

Bob Dylan's early Sixties songs-such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall"-quickly became rallying cries of the folk music-centered protest movement. Marqusee (Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties) aims to show both how politics are embedded in those songs and how Dylan moved away from the explicitly political in the middle of the decade. He contends that Dylan's early art gained much of its impetus from the protests of the Civil Rights Movement, and he discusses other sources that influenced Dylan, including bluesman Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and Dave Van Ronk. Post-1965, he points out, Dylan turned away from political engagement, as evidenced by the apolitical albums Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde, and returned only sporadically to politics in later decades. At the same time, Marqusee argues that Dylan's politically engaged songs influenced a wide range of artists, from Curtis Mayfield ("People Get Ready") to Bruce Springsteen, who was dubbed the "new Dylan" early in his career. He asserts that Dylan's protest songs continue to be influential because his themes of social justice, peace, and poverty are universal and eternal. Ultimately, Marqusee pins too much importance on the Civil Rights Movement as an influence, and like many other Dylan books, his fails to capture the singer's life and music because Dylan himself is such an enigma. Even so, he makes a valiant effort, and this is recommended for libraries with large Dylan or Sixties collections.-Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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