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William C. Altreuter
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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Good review of a complicated record:  Jon Landau on The Band's Cahoots.  It seems to me that Greil Marcus's conception of "the old, weird America" has always been better exemplified by The Band than by Dylan, although, to be sure ol' Bob has traveled there. The problem with The Band is an auteur problem: are we willing to concede to Robbie Robertson, a Canadian, whose mother was born and raised on the Six Nations Reservation, sole credit for a vision of the United States which seems like some sort of Jungian collective unconscious version of the American identity? It seems improbable, and there is testimony-- chiefly that of Levon Helm-- to the contrary. And yet, there's the evidence, right there on the label. And is it so improbable, after all? Doesn't outsider-- or maybe better, peripheral status, confer insight that someone closer might miss? Aren't some of the most perceptive movies about America by immigrants? Is there a better "old, Weird America" movie than Billy Wilder's Some Like it Hot? Isn't Saul Bellow's Augie March as American as Columbus himself?

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