LIKE A ROLLING STONE: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads

Greil Marcus, Author . Public Affairs $24 (0p) ISBN 978-1-58648-254-1

Marcus's engaging exegesis on the musical and cultural ramifications of Dylan's 1965 six-and-half-minute hit is not just a study of a popular song and a historic era, but an examination of the heroic status of the American visionary artist. Recorded when American popular music was "like a running election," Dylan's "music of transformations" induced a conflicted, confused America to look at its social disasters of racism, drug abuse and Vietnam, Marcus says, while simultaneously permitting it to strip away its illusions and hope for a better future. Ostensibly about a rich young socialite's fall from grace, the song's lyrics are open to many interpretations, which may have helped make it such a phenomenon. Marcus displays a comprehensive knowledge of American popular and political history, tracing the song's roots back to Robert Johnson and Hank Williams and spotting its influence on such disparate artists as Frank Zappa, the Village People and various contestants on American Idol . Part scholarly discourse and part beatnik rambling, the book is chockfull of lively metaphors and includes 20 pages of studio outtake banter. Marcus successfully convinces readers that (in the words of hit songwriter Gerry Goffin), "Dylan managed to do something that not one of us was able to do: put poetry in rock n' roll and just stand up there like a mensch and sing it." Agent, Wendy Weil. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/21/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 283 pages - 978-0-571-22386-2
Open Ebook - 231 pages - 978-0-7867-3658-4
Hardcover - 283 pages - 978-0-571-22385-5
Hardcover - 207 pages - 978-84-96879-51-5
Paperback - 286 pages - 978-1-58648-382-1
Show other formats
Discover what to read next