Monday, January 28, 2008

January 26-27, 2008

Like A Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads
An explosion of vision and humor that forever changed pop music
By Greil Marcus
c. 2005, hardcover, Durham County Public Library

I admit my new found interest in Bob Dylan has been fueled by the mind-blowingly brilliant film I'm Not There. I'm particularly attracted to his resistance to labels and co-opting of the media interview (which reminded me of Warhol in a way I hadn't realized and track down more of Rimbaud's poems, though I love my New Directions edition of Illuminations for other reasons). Greil Marcus is a wonderful wandering writer and this is the perfect subject for his approach. A book about a song, a song that is book-like, and yet, so much more.

One footnote: I didn't realize that the original Like A Rolling Stone single was split between the two sides, 3 minutes to each side, with the hope that the dj would be so caught up in the song he would flip it over and play the second side. However even this seems to be part of the continuous elusiveness surrounding Dylan since a 6 minute single was eventually pressed (p. 145).

Digital recap of my notes and interests:
Page 47-48- interview with the Detroit station WDTM.
Page 70 interview on CCBC. On page 98 Marcus captures the essence of the song's mystery through his observation that you never hear the song the same way and therefore nostalgia cannot cling to the song. He then draws one's attention to the first drum shot that opens the song, causing me to get past my fascination with the organ and now become fascinated by that opening action.
On page 104 Marcus acutely writes about the song's ability to stay in the air and its lingering as it disappears.
Page 112- "There is nothing careful about the language" but even this seems to be undone by Marcus since on the page before he says "One line didn't necessarily pull the next one after it; sometimes a phrase fell back on the one coming up behind it."
Returning to page 112 Marcus discusses ways in which some of Dylan's phrases are found phrases, an element I find truly compelling and mind boggling, since this connects Dylan to an artist like Robert Rauschenberg in a way I had not seen.
On page 114 Marcus introduces the manner in which some of the words function like bombs, another bomb of his own in terms of ground shattering revelations about the song.
Page 115 describes Al Kooper's organ to a "waterway opening."
Page 117 "In a minute and a half, a verse and a chorus, more has already happened than in any other song the year had produced."
Page 118 discussion of the girl and the listener.
Page 119- what the song has demanded of you and why you want more.
Page 123- idea of the prophet and the burden of knowledge and Allen Ginsberg's Howl.
Page 125- story telling and time in songs and this song.
Page 126- the journey of the song.
Page 127- "Dylan may sing the verses; the chorus sings him."
Page 127- where the song leaves you.
Page 150- leaving the world in a different state, but not exactly changing the world, but the change. "This is more like drawing a line..." The song as an event. transformation. witnesses. telling the story to others.
Page 173- society.. "shibboleths and cliches" and society's language (amazing).
The last sentence on page 175.
Page 225- the song as event, only happening once.

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