Bob Dylan

Negus, Keith. 2008. Bob Dylan. London: Equinox London. ISBN 13 978 1 904768 25 8 [Book]

Text (Bob Dylan Musician)
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Abstract or Description

In this study Keith Negus takes issue with those authors who treat Bob Dylan as a poet and who obsess over his lyrics on the page, and instead treats him first and foremost as a musician and his songs as music – the words sounds, rhythms and tunes in the air. This book explores those dimensions of Dylan songs that are so readily apparent to listeners but which have received little attention, stressing the importance of Dylan’s melodies, rhythms, instrumental textures, and the musicality of his performing voice. The book explores the way Dylan musical sensibility has been shaped by blues and folk ballad traditions, his songs quite often deliberately constructed from existing elements. Although appreciated according to the criteria of rock criticism with its emphasis on the apparent originality of musicians who write their own songs, this book emphasises how Dylan has always followed a songwriting philosophy drawn from folk music, working with and re-using existing songs, forms and styles. Dylan has created a unique performing identity by intensely personalising borrowed musical and lyrical phrases, the tunes and riffs. Negus stresses how performance is central to Dylan’s life as a musician and songwriter, indicating the way Dylan has created distinct musical textures through his arrangements and productions on studio recordings, as well as detailing the way Dylan has treated his songs as continually open to change and re-arrangement in live shows.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Music > Popular Music Research Unit


6 May 2008

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Date Deposited:

06 Apr 2011 10:53

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:52


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