Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Sad-eyed gentleman of the Low Life.

The wonderfully erudite Luc Sante gives Dylan's Chronicles, volume one, the New York Review of Books treatment in their March 10 issue. The multi-part essay also folds in a look at the complete Lyrics; Studio A: The Bob Dylan Reader; and the recently re-released astral emission that is Tarantula. It's a great review, the best of Chronicles I've seen, as Sante finds a way to place the book into some kind of context ("young man arrives in the City, wide-eyed but nobody's fool"), while also allowing for its weirder, sui generis aspects --- the non-peak moments described in chapters devoted to the making of middling efforts New Morning and Oh Mercy.

Sante also looks closely at Dylan's lyric writing process, how he made an art out of marrying "the folk-lyric tradition and Western modernism," his linking of trad./arr. and his own Dada-fueled unconscious. Some of this is just Sante conjecturing, but he does a fine job of picking over the tidbits related to Dylan's creative process that litter the four books under discussion. And, as a bonus, he (too gently) puts Sleater-Kinney PR flak Rick Moody in his place regarding the overall importance and merit of Blood on the Tracks.

Dylan bonus #2: The Independent (UK) recently posted a chunk from Sam Shepard's Rolling Thunder diaries, on the occasion of the publication of Shepard's Rolling Thunder Logbook in the UK this month. The book was re-released in the US back in December.

Dylan bonus #3: TMFTML recently linked to this amazing story by Ian Frazier following up on William Zantzinger, who in 1963 killed Hattie Carroll; he was later immortalized for the act in Dylan's "Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll."


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