Studio A: The Bob Dylan Reader

Benjamin Hedin, Editor W. W. Norton & Company $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-05844-4
As a pop culture icon, a literary figure and perhaps even the physical and spiritual embodiment of the tumultuous 1960s, Bob Dylan has taken on more roles and shapes than any other musician. Dylan, according to Hunter S. Thompson, became""the voice of an anguished and half-desperate generation."" Now, 43 years after Dylan recorded his first album, Hedin has gathered together not only the best writing on the ever-changing folk singer, but also some of the best writing about any musician around. More than just a hagiography of a celebrated musician, his well-balanced collection mixes harsh criticism and unabashed enthusiasm, drawing from the works of great writers and artists--like Greil Marcus, Sam Shepard, Allen Ginsburg, Joyce Carol Oates, David Gates, Nat Hentoff, Robert Christgau, Anne Waldman, David Hajdu and Barry Hannah, to name just a few. The breadth and depth of Hedin's selection is wonderful, but the book's greatest coup may be its elegant chronological structure, which allows for a sweeping view of both Dylan and the changing times he so eloquently captured in his music. In his introduction, Hedin points out that in 1961, when Dylan's first record debuted,""Elvis was at the movies, Buddy Holiday was dead, Chuck Berry had been out of the Top 40"" for two years, and the Beatles still hadn't come to New York. In those days, rock n' roll didn't reflect life's complexities, Dylan once told an interviewer, it was all""put on a happy face and ride Sally ride."" How things have changed since then. Photos.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-393-32742-7
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