Sunday, December 25, 2011

Five of the best books on rock music

Greil Marcus's new book is The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years.

One of the five books on rock music he discussed with Eve Gerber at The Browser:
by Bob Dylan

We’re starting with Bob Dylan’s autobiography. Why did you select Chronicles?

Dylan has had a career of extraordinary richness and variety. Yet here he is writing a memoir that completely ignores everything which made him a world figure. It ignores all of his most famous songs, it ignores all the periods in which he was a great star. It's all about times when he was trying to learn, when he was confused and lost but absolutely alive with the thrill of discovering new ideas, new singers, new information.

It's a marvellous, eyes-wide-open partial-autobiography. It's also wonderfully written – the words are alive on the page. It clearly wasn't co-written or talked into a tape recorder. It's a great piece of writing.

You’ve written so sweepingly about Dylan that a collection of your thoughts on his work came out last year. Why is he a focus of such enduring interest for you?

His is probably the most complexly expressive voice that I’ve heard. There's just no end to the shades of meaning that come out of the way he shapes a word. The way he shapes a phrase can leave you hanging – he can take you so far with just a turn of a syllable. That's really it. It comes down to his singing.

You wrote that becoming a Bob Dylan fan made you a writer. How so?

He gave me something I wanted to write about.
Read about another book on the list.

Chronicles also appears among Samuel Muston's ten best music memoirs and Kitty Empire's best rock autobiographies.

--Marshal Zeringue