Historian, professor and writer Sean Wilentz’ new book Bob Dylan in America is neither biography or critical assessment though it is a bit of both. Comprised largely of previously written though updated articles, the book isn’t so much about Dylan as it is about some of his influences, and how Dylan fits into the great scheme of American music.
In a way that is both refreshing and strange, Wilentz doesn’t begin his book with the usual kid in Minnesota, goes to James Dean movies, escapes to Minneapolis, discovers Woody Guthrie, and hitchhikes east to New York story. Instead he starts with a chapter on Aaron Copland. The impetus for this was Dylan using Copland as the introductory music to his concerts in the early 2000s. However, this provides a different view of the New York City Dylan would arrive in, than the usual Greenwich Village folk scene and beats saga. More importantly, Wilentz manages to tie Copland and the folk scene together, and there are parallels both culturally and politically.
Article at CounterPunch.