Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

If Ron Rosenbaum's writing were less about Ron Rosenbaum he'd be a lot more interesting. His thesis in this article is, I think, a valid and provocative hypothosis: Bob Dylan should be considered in the context of the urban, "black humor" tradition of late 20th Century artists like Joseph Heller and Stanley Kubrick. Fair enough-- it is certainly true that to many observers Greil Marcus' theory that Dylan is the last avatar of the "old, weird America" begins and ends the discussion, and I would agree that this is unnecessarily reductive. Here's where the sledding gets tough, though: in order to get to the crux of Rosenbaum's case we have to wade through stuff about how Rosenbaum hit upon his notion in a pizzeria; and how he thinks he's the only person to have ever read Tarantula (seriously Ron? You think you are the only one who was ever that pretentious?); and how nobody else has ever come up with this idea. Oh, and he also finds time to mention that he went to Yale.

Despite this the article is well worth reading, as I am sure Rosenbaum's forthcoming Dylan book will be. I owe Rosenbaum my current interest in Dylan-- back when I was taking Amtrack to and from New York I regularly read his column in the New York Observer, and a piece he wrote on "I'll Keep It With Mine" reminded me that it had been years since I had listened to any Dylan recording. As I write this I am looking across my office at the shelf where my copy of The Secret Parts of Fortune sits-- it is a valuable set of essays about the America we have become.

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