top of page
  • peterjhyland

What we're reading: Bob Dylan - The Philosophy of Modern Song

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

Like everything Dylan, I find that The Philosophy of Modern Song is all-at-once exhilarating, surprising, illuminating, crafty and flawed - and I'm loving every word of it! Dylan makes over 60 selections from the American songbook, ranging far and wide in his choices. Some you know every word. Some you never heard before. Some you may hate to bits. But if you're anything like me, you will thoroughly enjoy his take on each one, nevertheless.

He polishes each entry in two passes. First, to re-create the narrative of the song in the acerbic, witty Dylan-prose longtime fans will be familiar with from previous efforts, particularly Theme Time Radio Hour and his autobiography, Chronicles Vol. 1. Second, to conjure a little essay - a couple hundred words - that places each song in it's cultural, musical and historical context. Covering a diverse selection of artists that range from Stephen Foster to The Clash and Marty Robbins to The Platters, he embellishes each description with little known facts and curiosities (some so fabulous that, given his long-practiced penchant for mischief, I even wondered if he made parts of this up!).

Finally, this whole marvellous collection is illuminated by dozens of fabulous photographs and formatted within folksy graphical frames that give the package a bit of retro feel, an embellishment that the volume didn't really need, in my opinion.

There's an audiobook version too, which may be just as good, if not better - narrated by an all-star lineup including Dylan, Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi, John Goodman, Oscar Isaac, Helen Mirren, Rita Moreno, Sissy Spacek, Alfre Woodard, Jeffrey Wright, and Renée Zellweger!

The Philosophy of Modern Song

by Bob Dylan

Publisher Simon & Schuster

Publication date November 1, 2022

Pages 352

ISBN 978-139851941

Here's the playlist!

3 views0 comments


bottom of page