The Old, Weird America: The World of Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes

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Macmillan, Sep 22, 2001 - Music - 293 pages
3 Reviews
Previously published as Invisible Republic and already considered a classic of modern American cultural criticism, The Old, Weird America is Greil Marcus's widely acclaimed book on the secret music (the so-called "Basement Tapes") made by Bob Dylan and the Band while in seclusion in Woodstock, New York, in 1967--a folksy yet funky, furious yet hilarious music that remains as seductive and baffling today as it was more than thirty years ago.

As Mark Sinker observed in The Wire: "Marcus's contention is that there can be found in American folk a community as deep, as electric, as perverse, and as conflicted as all America, and that the songs Dylan recorded out of the public eye, in a basement in Woodstock, are where that community as a whole gets to speak." But the country mapped out in this book, as Bruce Shapiro wrote in The Nation, "is not Woody Guthrie's land for made for you and me . . . It's what Marcus calls 'the old, weird America.'" This odd terrain, this strange yet familiar backdrop to our common cultural history--which Luc Sante (in New York magazine) termed the "playground of God, Satan, tricksters, Puritans, confidence men, illuminati, braggarts, preachers, anonymous poets of all stripes"--is the territory that Marcus has discovered in Dylan's most mysterious music. And his analysis of that territory "reads like a thriller" (Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly) and exhibits "a mad, sparkling brilliance" (David Remnick, The New Yorker) throughout. This new edition of The Old, Weird America includes an updated discography.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Cymie - LibraryThing

I love Dylan's music to begin with, but even for me this book seems...weird. About half way through though,there's a digression on Henry Smith that's absolutely fascinating. If you don't know who he is (and I didn't), it's worth finding out. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - desultory - LibraryThing

Marcus's prose is a bit fractured at times, to the point of being occasionally unintelligible (to me, anyway), but very good, if perhaps a little over Romantic, on the sources of Dylan's musical weirdness. Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

INTO A LABORATORY
iv
ANOTHER COUNTRY
3
TIME IS LONGER THAN ROPE
42
BASEMENT NOISE
67
THE OLD WEIRD AMERICA
87
KILL DEVIL HILLS
127
GET INTO THE GRAVEYARD
149
CITY ON A HILL
188
BACK TO THE WORLD
220
WORKS CITED
224
DISCOGRAPHY
234
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
279
INDEX
283
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

One of America's most original and incisive critics of pop music and pop culture, Greil Marcus is the author of Double Trouble, Dead Elvis, Lipstick Traces, and Mystery Train. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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