Society & Culture
Jim Curtis ...Decoding Dylan making sense of songs that changed modern culture .5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟recommended
Writer Jim Curtis Announces the Publication of Decoding Dylan. Making Sense of the Songs that Changed Modern Culture (ISBN 978-1-4766-7845-0), from McFarland Publishers, a book that offers a fundamentally new interpretation of the great songs from the sixties that made Bob Dylan a legend and revolutionized American popular music.
In place of the traditional image of Dylan the classic sixties rebel, Decoding Dylan draws on Dylan’s own revelations in his memoir Chronicles as well as numerous facts from the New York cultural scene to show that Dylan was a serious craftsman who worked hard at mastering songwriting. Not contend with the usual verse-and-chorus structure of rock songs, he continually experimented with stanza and rhyme forms.
Dylan’s early years in New York gave him cultural experiences that he could not have imagined while back in Minnesota. He discovered French Symbolist poets like Charles Baudelaire, whose challenging, disturbing poems made him impatient with the good-hearted but limited folk songs of people like Peter Seeger. When Suze Rotolo, Dylan’s first girlfriend in New York, took him to see Picasso’s paintings at the Museum of Modern Art, he was blown away—so much so that he says in Chronicles that he wanted to be like Picasso. Dylan has never said anything like that about any other artist. It was artists like Baudelaire and Picasso that Dylan had in mind when he called his epoch-making 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home. As many American artists before him had done, Dylan undertook the task of assimilating European high culture and translating it into a distinctly American idiom.
Many people have called Dylan a mystical poet, and with good reason. His great songs “Mr. Tambourine Man”; “Desolation Row”; and “Visions of Johanna” form a trilogy that begins on a “windy beach” and ends with the explosion of consciousness.
Author Jim Curtis is a bridge-builder. He builds bridges between regions and cultures, just as Dylan does. He grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, and saw his hometown hero Elvis perform live there. Seeing Elvis gave him a life-long commitment to rock and roll, so he wrote a book Rock Eras. Interpretations of Music and Society, 1954-1984.
But rock and roll and popular culture are only part of who he is. He also has a PhD in Russian, and has written a lot about Russian literature. He can’t think of any reason not to enjoy both Leo Tolstoy and Elvis Presley, and he wants to persuade other people that they can enjoy both of them too! Curtis says, “You’ll never think about Dylan in the same way after you read this book!”
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