BOB DYLAN IN AMERICA
By Sean Wilentz
Advance Praise for Bob Dylan in America
“Unlike so many Dylan-writer-wannabes and phony ‘encyclopedia’ compilers, Sean Wilentz makes me feel he was in the room when he chronicles events that I participated in. Finally a breath of fresh words founded in hardcore, intelligent research.” —Al Kooper
“A panoramic vision of Bob Dylan, his music, his shifting place in American culture, from multiple angles. In fact, reading Sean Wilentz’s Bob Dylan in America is as thrilling and surprising as listening to a great Dylan song.” - Martin Scorsese
“All the American connections that Wilentz draws to explain the appearance of Dylan’s music are fascinating, particularly at the outset, the connection to Aaron Copland. The writing is strong, the thinking is strong—the book is dense and strong everywhere you look.” —Philip Roth
“Sean Wilentz is one of the few great American historians. His political and social histories of American democracy are masterful and magisterial. In this work, he turns his attention to the artistic genius of Bob Dylan – and the result is a masterpiece of cultural history that tells us much about who we have been and who we are.”
—Cornel West, Class of 1943 University Professor in the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University
“Sean Wilentz’s beautiful book sets a new standard for the cultural history of popular music in America. He loves the music and he loves America, but his loves do not blind him, they open his eyes. In Wilentz’s erudite and lively account, Dylan’s music, and folk music, and rock music, are all indelibly woven into the whole story of an entire country. This book is chocked with new contexts for old pleasures. There are surprises and illuminations on almost every page. A great historian has written a history of the culture that formed him. Like Dylan, Wilentz is a deep and probing American voice. Bob Dylan’s America is Bob Dylan’s good luck, and ours. It is an extraordinary affirmation of singing and strumming and feeling and learning and believing.”
“This should have been impossible. Writing about Bob Dylan's music, and fitting it into the great crazy quilt of American culture, Sean Wilentz sews a whole new critical fabric, part history, part close analysis, and all heart. What he writes, as well as anyone ever has, helps us enlarge Dylan's music by reckoning its roots, its influences, its allusive spiritual contours. This isn't Cliff Notes or footnotes or any kind of academic exercise. It's not a critic chinning on the high bar. It's one artist meeting another, kick starting a dazzling conversation.”
—Jay Cocks, screenwriter for THE AGE OF INNOCENCE and THE GANGS OF NEW YORK
“Sean Wilentz makes us think about Bob Dylan’s half-century of work in new ways. Combining a scholar’s depth with a sense of mischief appropriate to the subject, Wilentz hears new associations in famous songs and sends us back to listen to Dylan’s less familiar music with fresh insights. By focusing on the parts of Dylan’s canon that most move him, Wilentz gets straight to the heart of the matter. If you thought there was nothing new to say about Bob Dylan’s impact on America, this book will make you think twice.”
—Bill Flanagan, author of A&R and EVENING’S EMPIRE and Editorial Director, MTV Networks.
Sean Wilentz is the ‘historian-in-residence’ for Bob Dylan’s official website (www.bobdylan.com). In addition, Wilentz is a Pulitzer-prize finalist, a Bancroft Prize winner, a Grammy award nominated liner-notes writer, and a noted historian and professor at Princeton University.
With unprecedented access to Dylan’s working tapes, recording notes, rare photographs and other key materials, Wilentz has written a comprehensive account of Dylan’s life and music and its influence on American culture.
Beginning with his explosion onto the scene in 1961, BOB DYLAN IN AMERICA follows Dylan as he continues to develop a body of musical and literary work unique in our cultural history. Wilentz’s approach places Dylan’s music in the context of its time, including the early influences of Popular Front ideology and Beat aesthetics, and offers a larger critical appreciation of Dylan as both a song writer and performer. Wilentz tells Dylan’s story and that of such masterpieces as Blonde on Blonde with an unprecedented authenticity and richness.
BOB DYLAN IN AMERICA also chronicles Wilentz’s strange, interrupted, and lucky connection to Dylan and his work. Sean Wilentz’s family owned the 8th Street Bookshop in Greenwich Village, which served as a cultural staple during the heyday of the beat writers and Dylan’s hip folk club scene. In fact, Bob Dylan met Allen Ginsberg in Sean’s uncle’s apartment above the shop. Thus, Wilentz and Dylan’s paths crossed early on and led to Sean’s lifelong interest and fascination with Dylan’s work. With BOB DYLAN IN AMERICA, Wilentz charts Dylan’s life and music from those early days in Greenwich Village up until the present.
Wilentz’s essays offer a broad appreciation of Dylan’s art and performances in the key periods of his career. BOB DYLAN IN AMERICA—groundbreaking, thorough, totally absorbing—is the result of an author and a subject brilliantly met.
Bob Dylan in America and author Sean Wilentz:
· This is the furthest thing from a pop biography; and it is also the furthest thing from the obsessive “Dylanology,” deadly academic dissections, or mannered rock criticism that makes up the rest of the small library on Dylan. It is a lucid but imaginative, thorough, and bold reassessment of Dylan’s work by an established major figure on the American literary and intellectual scene. Nothing quite like this has been written about a modern musical figure.
· Sean Wilentz is the historian-in-residence for Bob Dylan’s official website – www.bobdylan.com
· Sean Wilentz’s family owned the 8th St Bookshop in Greenwich Village which the beat writers and Bob Dylan frequented.
· Wilentz has unprecedented access to working tapes, recording notes, rare photographs and other key scholarly materials in order to write this book. His reconstruction of the complicated creation of Blonde on Blonde is a masterpiece of historical investigation.
· Sean Wilentz was awarded the Bancroft Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln and was nominated for a Grammy for his liner notes to Bootleg series, Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964 – Concert a Philharmonic Hall.
· Over 100 photos, many rare and several previously unpublished, all serve to deepen and enrich the experience of reading this unique examination of a great American artist.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sean Wilentz is Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor in the American Revolutionary Era at Princeton University. His previous books include The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, which was awarded the Bancroft Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In addition to his writing as historian-in-residence at www.bobdylan.com, Wilentz received a Deems Taylor Award for musical commentary and was nominated for a Grammy for his liner notes to ‘Bootleg Series, Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964—Concert at Philharmonic Hall.
BOB DYLAN IN AMERICA
By Sean Wilentz
On-sale: September 7, 2010
Working with Mark Lennon of the Entertainment Marketing Group, they have graciously sent me five copies to give away. The first five people who email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (with the words Bob Dylan in the subject line) will get a free copy of this great insight into an American legend!