Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes

Greil Marcus, Author Henry Holt & Company $22.5 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8050-3393-9
Village Voice music critic Robert Christagau hinted at it when the so-called ""Basement Tapes"" were officially released after years of continuous rumors and bootlegging: ""We needn't bow our heads in shame,"" he said, ""that this is the best album of 1975. It would have been the best album of 1967 too."" Never mind that only a portion of the basement tapes actually saw official release. Marcus, who authored the album's liner notes, contends here that the music Dylan performed in Woodstock that summer would have sounded just as familiar a century earlier. Hiding out from an audience that had all but consumed them a year earlier on Dylan's first electric tour, the six musicians can be heard playing out of a tradition older and darker than any music found on the radio during the Summer of Love. Traditional murder ballads as well as throwaway parodies of recent hits traced Dylan and The Band's topographical map of America. Invisible Republic further unravels the historical and mythological resonances in such classic performances as ""Tears of Rage"" and ""I'm Not There, I'm Gone."" A folklorist by dint of his years spent playing coffee houses and hootenannies, Dylan would have no doubt known histories behind many of his traditional song choices. In a book that is a worthy sequel to the classic Mystery Train, Marcus makes the case that Dylan and The Band contributed equally important footnotes to those histories. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/28/1997
Release date: 05/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-8050-5842-0
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