The Old, Weird America: The World of Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes
, Sep 22, 2001
- 293 pages
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.