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Like a Rolling Stone

Greil Marcus

Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads by Greil Marcus: ‘Marcus seems to understand Dylan and the song intuitively. His ideas burn with a fierce intelligence and the song takes on a new life in that crucible.’ (Hanif Kureishi)

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Sardonic, bitter, threatening, compassionate, gleeful, and most of all loud, ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ is much more than a song. Six minutes and six seconds in length, it was released by Dylan despite the received wisdom of the day as to what constituted a single.

Originally published on the 40th anniversary of its release and recording, Greil Marcus’ extraordinary book reconstructs the context in which the song first appeared, in terms of Dylan’s own career (his controversial transformation from folk singer into rock n roll singer) and the world at large (Vietnam, the Watts Riots, the burgeoning counter-culture of the time). This is itself the stage for Marcus’ recreation of the song on the page – its emergence from fragments, its words, its sound, its discovery of itself.
An analysis and critique of an artist at the height of his creative powers, it affords a unique insight into the mistakes, inspirations and bloody mindedness that come together only in the very highest cultural moments.


Greil Marcus was born in San Francisco in 1945. He is the author of Mystery Train, Invisible Republic, Lipstick Traces, Double Trouble and Bob Dylan: Writings 1968-2010and the editor of Lester Bangs’s Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung. In 1998 he curated the exhibition ‘1948’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. He writes the Real Life…

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