I said I'd post some extended thoughts on Elijah Wald's Dylan Goes Electric! and Stephen Witt's How Music Got Free and by God I'm going to do it. But, if you haven't read my review of those books in the Los Angeles Review of Books, do that first, otherwise none of what follows will be in context. And hey, show LARB some love. I enjoyed working with my editor Michael Goetzman on what became a long review essay of something like 3700 words. Usually, as I work, I keep a "notes and outtakes" document running; that document for this essay was nearly 12000 words. There's a lot to discuss, but some of it I'll hold off on because it may show up in the chapter on Dylan I'm writing for Nothing Has Been Done Before.
When I decided to review the two books together using the theme of transgression with Great White Wonder as the link between them, I underestimated just how much I was tackling. So I had to make some hard decisions about what made the cut and what didn't. With both books, some of the more typical "book review" elements got cut. That's not uncommon with review essays, which function in a different way, but I've included a lot of those below.
Scattered updates must mean I'm busy, which is a good thing. My article "Scenes of Love and Theft: Bob Dylan, Piracy, and Cultures of Transgression" for the Los Angeles Review of Books should be up today. It reviews two new books: Elijah Wald's Dylan Goes Electric! and Stephen Witt's How Music Got Free. (Edit: Here's… Continue reading Scenes of Love and Theft and the Midwestern Work Ethic or Something
My new column for PopMatters went up today. Titled "A Nightly Ritual: Bob Dylan's Never-Changing Set Lists," it reviews his May 16, 2015 show here in Columbus and examines the mini-controversy over his set list, which is very heavy on recent songs. I didn't end up cutting much unless you count everything I left out of the review--which, as LeBron James has been saying lately, is "everything." The challenge of writing about Dylan isn't just saying something new, it's choosing how to narrow down your focus when there's so much his music touches.
Here's a picture of our dining room table, which is rarely used for dinner. Instead, it's a work table where Jamie fixes up some of the clothes she sells on Etsy and where I type a bunch of words. The tiny sandwich is what I had for lunch the other day: ham and provolone on… Continue reading Tiny Sandwich