Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Only Dylan Piece You Need To Read (If You Don't "Get" Him - But Live With Someone Who "Does")

In the spring of 1999 I read what remains without contest the best piece on Bob Dylan. It was a lengthy New Yorker profile, called The Wanderer, by Alex Ross. I wasn't hopeful. The inherent and by now thunderously obvious peril in approaching the cipher Dylan - especially when the writer is a fan - is getting the job done only to come out looking like a boob. Ross walked the highwire, acknowledging with an understated humour the pitfall on either side, and delivered an estimation of Dylan's talent that manages to be baroque and ecumenical, with none of the gassy pomposity those words (mine - sigh) suggest.

Alright, fine: so just how successful was he? I read the piece aloud to my wife, during a lengthy car-ride. At the end, she declared, "That makes me actually want to listen to his music!"

Mission accomplished.

You can read the piece here. I came to it courtesy of this Slate discussion re: Dylan's hot-off-the-presses memoir.


DarkoV said...

Hope "The Wanderer"'s better than His Book, Volume #1. Just got back from Sam's Warehouse (Wal Mart). Pallets of Dylan Tomes all around. Nary a copy of The Daily Show's "America". Ol' Bob is on the Straight and Narrow, for sure.

Whisky Prajer said...

I haven't read the memoirs, though I am somewhat curious. One other recommendation for "The Wanderer" is you can view it for free, and take it or leave it. As for Mr. Stewart, you might try Costco. Last I saw, the book was doing quite well there.