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While one can hardly welcome the possibility that we'll one day have a book length treatment of every hit song--see also Ashley Kahn's A Love Supreme--given that Greil Marcus is the author of one of the best books ever written about popular song (*), Mystery Train, he's earned our indulgence when he chooses to write at length about his own favorite tune. Here again he manages to strike just the right balance between taking rock music seriously enough to make it worth writing and reading about without trying to give it a broader significance that it won't bear. And, of course, his breadth of knowledge about popular culture in general and the music world in particular allows him to draw parallels and reveal details that hold your attention for most of the close to 300 pages on Bob Dylan's seminal "Like a Rolling Stone." If nothing else, he convinces that Mr. Dylan's fellow musicians consider that song to have marked a turning point in the history of rock-n-roll and marshals every argument he can to support the contention in his singularly entertaining and informative style.

(*) Along with Robert Palmer's Deep Blues and Peter Guralnick's Sweet Soul Music.


Grade: (B+)


See also:

Music Literature
Greil Marcus Links:
    -Greil Marcus (Wikipedia)
    -BOOK SITE: Like a Rolling Stone by Greil Marcus (Public Affairs Books)
    -ESSAY: How does it feel?: Bob Dylan was never the same after it; neither was his audience. And it made a young Frank Zappa want to quit the music business. (Greil Marcus, May 13, 2005, The Guardian)
    -EXCERPT: from Like a Rolling Stone by Greil Marcus
    -ESSAY: On "Like a Rolling Stone" in Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home (Greil Marcus,
    -ESSAY: Elvis Again (Greil Marcus, Winter 2003, Three Penny Review)
    -ESSAY: The American dream: The real story of America is not about power, money or the march of armies. It is about a dream of liberty and justice and independence -- a dream that still comes true every day (Greil Marcus, 2006-07-04, Salon)
    -ESSAY: The Roger Clinton Experience: At a "Bill Clinton for President" benefit in San Francisco in August 1992, Bill's brother gave the performance of his life in the hopes of changing the country. (Greil Marcus, 2001-03-15, Salon)
    -EXCERPT: Demand the impossible: Greil Marcus analyzes the Hillary Clinton era in an excerpt from his new book, "Double Trouble" (Greil Marcus, 2000-11-03, Salon)
    -EXCERPT: Clinton and Presley: All shook up: They live in the common imagination, dramatizing America's most unresolved notions of what it means to be good, true and beautiful -- and evil, false and ugly (Greil Marcus, 2000-08-09, Salon)
    -ESSAY: Dead again: Here are 10 reasons why "Dead Man" is the best movie of the end of the 20th century. (Greil Marcus, 1999-12-02, Salon)
    -ESSAY: Way dead Elvis: A tribute to the King proves that his posthumous legend has become equal parts sincerity and trash. (Greil Marcus, 1997-08-12, Salon)
    -REVIEW: of THE POEM THAT CHANGED AMERICA: "Howl" Fifty Years Later Edited by Jason Shinder (Greil Marcus, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of DEAD ALIVE By Eva Demski. Translated by Jan van Heurck (Greil Marcus, NY Times Book Review)
    -ARCHIVES: "Greil Marcus" (NPR)
    -ARCHIVES: Greil Marcus (Salon)
    -ARCHIVES: Greil Marcus (Rock's Back Pages)
    -ARCHIVES: "Greil Marcus" (Find Articles)
    -PROFILE: Greil's world: Can one Bob Dylan song carry the whole weight of history? For rock critic Greil Marcus, the answer is obvious: How can it not? (Devin McKinney, April 17, 2005, Boston Globe)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Poetic Accident: Recording 'Like a Rolling Stone' (Talk of the Nation, April 11, 2005)
    -EXCERPT: Greil Marcus on Recording 'Like a Rolling Stone' (, April 11, 2005)
    -PROFILE: Holy Greil (Chris Nelson, 4/09/03, Seattle Weekly)
    -INTERVIEW: Love is red, death is blue: Greil Marcus and Sean Wilentz discuss their amazing new anthology of writing about the American ballad -- and wonder whether Republicans sing better songs of passion and murder than Democrats do. (Charles Taylor, 2004-11-17, Salon)
    -INTERVIEW: "A writer writes to be read": An Interview with Greil Marcus (Nate Seltenrich, Rock Critics)
    -INTERVIEW: All These Inches Away From Where Greil Marcus Began (Dave Weich,
    -PROFILE: Greil Marcus and the Mad Parade: Going to the Source of Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century (MARGARET MOSER, 9/10/99, Austin Chronicle)
    -INTERVIEW: Aboard the mystery train: Greil Marcus on the masks of Dylan and Harvey (JASON ANDERSON, 10/29/98, Eye Weekly)
    -INTERVIEW: One For The Money (Chris Herrington, AUGUST 17, 1998, Memphis Flyer)
    -INTERVIEW: GREIL MARCUS: Do politics rock? (Interrogation by Billy Bob Hargus, June 1997)
    -ESSAY: The 50 greatest music books ever: #12 Mystery Train by Greil Marcus (June 18, 2006, The Observer)
-REVIEW ARCHIVES: for Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads by Greil Marcus (MetaCritic)
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (Alan Light, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (David Yaffe, The Nation)
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (Justin Cober-Lake, PopMatters)
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (John Kehe, CS Monitor)
    -AUDIO REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (David Kipen, Day to Day)
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (David Kipen, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (Chrissie Dickinson,Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (Hugh Massingberd, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (Charles Shaar Murray, The Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (Nick Coleman, The Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (Mike Marqusee, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (John Preston, Daily Telegraph
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (Ron Jacobs, Counter Punch)
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (Sean Curnyn, Weekly Standard)
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (NINIAN DUNNETT, The Scotsman)
    -REVIEW: of Like a Rolling Stone (Not Bored)
    -REVIEW: of In the Fascist Bathroom by Greil Marcus (Gerald Houghton, The Edge)
    -REVIEW: of Ranters and Crowd Pleasers (Timothy Sexton, associated Content)
    -REVIEW: of Double Trouble by Greil Marcus (Steven Rubio, Bad Subjects)
    -REVIEW: of Double Trouble by Greil Marcus (Paul Cantor, Reason)
    -REVIEW: of The Shape of Things to Come by Greil Marcus (Ian Sansom, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of The Shape of Things to Come (Eric Homberger, The Independent)
    -REVIEW: of PSYCHOTIC REACTIONS AND CARBURETOR DUNG By Lester Bangs. Edited by Greil Marcus (Ken Tucker, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Dustbin of History by Greil Marcus (Charles Taylor, Boston Phoenix)
    -REVIEW: of The Dustbin of History (CHRISTINE SCHWARTZ HARTLEY, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes By Greil Marcus (ROBERT POLITO, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Invisible Republic (Tim Riley, Boston Review)
    -REVIEW: of Invisible Republic (STEVE SILBERMAN, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of DEAD ELVIS A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession. By Greil Marcus (Terry Teachout, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Lipstick Traces: the Broadway Show (JAMES SULLIVAN, Rolling Stone)
    -REVIEW: of MYSTERY TRAIN by Griel Marcus (Michael Carlson, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of The Rose and the Briar: Death, Love and Liberty in the American Ballad Edited by Sean Wilentz and Greil Marcus (Mark Feeney, Boston Globe)

Book-related and General Links:

BOB DYLAN: (Columbia Records)
    -Bob Dylan (From the Archives of The New York Times)
    -NPR 100: Like a Rolling Stone (Morning Edition, November 9, 2000)
    -LYRICS: Like a Rolling Stone (
    -ARCHIVES: "Bob Dylan" (NPR)