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Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited (33 1/3) [Kindle Edition]

Mark Polizzotti
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
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Book Description

Between the fitfully brilliant Bringing It All Back Home and the sprawling masterwork that is Blonde on Blonde, Highway 61 Revisited stands as the defining moment in both Dylan?s career and the musical evolution of the mid-1960s. But beyond its place in history, Highway 61 works because of its enduring emotional appeal. Few songwriters before Dylan or since have combined so effectively the intensely personal with the spectacularly universal. In this incisive book, Mark Polizzotti shines a critical light on these remarkable songs and shows us the timeless qualities that make them ? and the album as a whole ? so affecting.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"I've been listening to Highway 61 Revisited for 41 years now, but Mark Polizzotti's 33 1/3 book sent me back to hear all the things I've missed. His thoughtful and knowledgeable appraisal both summarizes scholarship on the album and adds new ideas and details, contributing to a deeper sense of how this landmark Dylan album came to be."—Ira Robbins, editor, www.Trouserpress.com

(Ira Robbins )

"A few pages into Mark Polizzotti's Highway 61 Revisited, I was amazed by how much he knew. A few pages after that, I was amazed by how much I didn't. The whole book is a marvel of research and insight, doled out in equal measure. Something was indeed happening in the grooves of this seminal Bob Dylan album-and after reading this compact yet loaded analysis, you will know what it is, Mr. Jones."-David Bianculli


"As one of the greatest albums in the history of recorded music, a turning point that forever grafted the depth and integrity of folk music into the flourishing tree of rock and roll, Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited has long deserved the kind of focused treatment that Mark Polizzotti gives it with his examination for the always excellent 33 1/3 series....The sheer volume of annotated quotes and behind the scenes revelations that Polizzoti has dug up is mind numbing, but the material flows together well, and the studious nature of the examination is never less than enlightening. It's an essential read for anyone who wants to engage the mythology behind the man and the album."-Under the Radar, Fall 2006
(Matt Fink )

"Polizzotti's book does an excellent job gathering information from the cream of the Dylan books and coming up with his own conclusions as he examines what might be Dylan's finest hour ... While hardcore Dylanites might nitpick with some of his conclusions, Polizzotti's book offers an opinionated, engaging primer to a classic album that gave some new insight to this Dylan fan. It's often beautifully written, with the author's palpable awe for Dylan coming through." — Blogcritics (Blogcritics )

"Polizzotti's illuminating new analysis of Dylan's landmark 1965 album...speculates on the genesis of the songs, examines their lyrical content and, more prosaically, outlines the recording process. With considerable insight, he places the great album in the context of what was happening in Dylan's world in the mid-1960s. This might seem like an oft-ploughed furrow but, armed with a formidable intellect, Polizzotti makes some telling original observations. He writes with intelligence and flair. And his text has a depth which would fully engage you over several slow, careful reads." — Dylan Daily (Dylan Daily )

"I can recommend Mark Polizzotti's short book Highway 61 Revisited...You might think everyone had written plenty about this album already... but the enviable achievement of this book as a whole is to say fresh things, and with a nicely clipped, energetic turn of phrase...[Some passages] fundamentally offer a truth I've never quite heard said before, even after more than 40 years of talk and writing." — Michael Gray, bobdylanencyclopedia.blogspot.com

(bobdylanencyclopedia.blogspot.com )

"This is a small book (only 161 pages) that punches well above its weight. The author, Mark Polizzotti, knows his stuff, and has researched in detail: the bibliography and endnotes demonstrate the depth of his reading, and the text itself is densely packed with minutiae about the recording of the album. He is especially strong on the dissection of the musical layers in each of the album's songs, examining what each musician brings to individual tracks, and I'm sure I won't be alone in coming away from many of his descriptions of the songs' evolutions in the studio with a new understanding of what actually went on...It is more than enough for me that Polizzotti writes calmly and insightfully, in an elegant and highly readable style that manages to be balanced, generous and enthusiastic all at the same time, no mean feat...As a monograph this book works extremely well in its concision, being timely proof that books about Dylan do not need to be able to double as doorstops to be worthwhile. If you prefer your writers on Dylan not to be long-winded or pompous (or continually belittling others), then this will be a book you will appreciate. It's a good read, first and foremost. It would also serve as an excellent introduction to Highway 61 to any Dylan newcomer, who would be delighted, I'm sure, to find it in their Christmas stocking." — bobdylanisis.com

(bobdyanisis.com )

"For me, the most rewarding thing about the book was Polizzotti's personification of many of the people involved in making Highway 61 Revisited...Dylan's life during this period has been documented so thoroughly at this point, in films like Don't Look Back and No Direction Home and books like Chronicles Vol. 1, but Polizzotti manages to stay focused and has delivered a book that is as insightful as it is concise." — Being There (beingtheremag.com)

(Being There )

"Polizzotti's key contribution is to return our attention to the music, to remind us that however much we scrutinize the lyrics, Dylan's musical contribution is just as important...[He] leads us into the studio, reviews the recording sessions, and analyzes the various takes. In doing so, he shows how a song develops musically—much like looking at early drafts of a novel. Studied in this way, our understanding of each song is enriched."
—American Quarterly
(Louis P. Mazur )

"I've been listening to Highway 61 Revisited for 41 years now, but Mark Polizzotti's 33 1/3 book sent me back to hear all the things I've missed. His thoughtful and knowledgeable appraisal both summarizes scholarship on the album and adds new ideas and details, contributing to a deeper sense of how this landmark Dylan album came to be."—Ira Robbins, editor, www.Trouserpress.com

(, )

“As one of the greatest albums in the history of recorded music, a turning point that forever grafted the depth and integrity of folk music into the flourishing tree of rock and roll, Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited has long deserved the kind of focused treatment that Mark Polizzotti gives it with his examination for the always excellent 33 1/3 series.…The sheer volume of annotated quotes and behind the scenes revelations that Polizzoti has dug up is mind numbing, but the material flows together well, and the studious nature of the examination is never less than enlightening. It’s an essential read for anyone who wants to engage the mythology behind the man and the album.”-Under the Radar, Fall 2006
(, )

“Polizzotti's book does an excellent job gathering information from the cream of the Dylan books and coming up with his own conclusions as he examines what might be Dylan's finest hour … While hardcore Dylanites might nitpick with some of his conclusions, Polizzotti's book offers an opinionated, engaging primer to a classic album that gave some new insight to this Dylan fan. It's often beautifully written, with the author's palpable awe for Dylan coming through.” – Blogcritics (, )

“Polizzotti’s illuminating new analysis of Dylan’s landmark 1965 album…speculates on the genesis of the songs, examines their lyrical content and, more prosaically, outlines the recording process. With considerable insight, he places the great album in the context of what was happening in Dylan’s world in the mid-1960s. This might seem like an oft-ploughed furrow but, armed with a formidable intellect, Polizzotti makes some telling original observations. He writes with intelligence and flair. And his text has a depth which would fully engage you over several slow, careful reads.” – Dylan Daily (, )

"I can recommend Mark Polizzotti's short book Highway 61 Revisited…You might think everyone had written plenty about this album already… but the enviable achievement of this book as a whole is to say fresh things, and with a nicely clipped, energetic turn of phrase…[Some passages] fundamentally offer a truth I've never quite heard said before, even after more than 40 years of talk and writing." – Michael Gray, bobdylanencyclopedia.blogspot.com

(, )

"This is a small book (only 161 pages) that punches well above its weight. The author, Mark Polizzotti, knows his stuff, and has researched in detail: the bibliography and endnotes demonstrate the depth of his reading, and the text itself is densely packed with minutiae about the recording of the album. He is especially strong on the dissection of the musical layers in each of the album’s songs, examining what each musician brings to individual tracks, and I’m sure I won’t be alone in coming away from many of his descriptions of the songs’ evolutions in the studio with a new understanding of what actually went on…It is more than enough for me that Polizzotti writes calmly and insightfully, in an elegant and highly readable style that manages to be balanced, generous and enthusiastic all at the same time, no mean feat…As a monograph this book works extremely well in its concision, being timely proof that books about Dylan do not need to be able to double as doorstops to be worthwhile. If you prefer your writers on Dylan not to be long-winded or pompous (or continually belittling others), then this will be a book you will appreciate. It’s a good read, first and foremost. It would also serve as an excellent introduction to Highway 61 to any Dylan newcomer, who would be delighted, I’m sure, to find it in their Christmas stocking." – bobdylanisis.com

(, )

"For me, the most rewarding thing about the book was Polizzotti's personification of many of the people involved in making Highway 61 Revisited…Dylan's life during this period has been documented so thoroughly at this point, in films like Don't Look Back and No Direction Home and books like Chronicles Vol. 1, but Polizzotti manages to stay focused and has delivered a book that is as insightful as it is concise." – Being There (beingtheremag.com)

(, )

“Polizzotti’s key contribution is to return our attention to the music, to remind us that however much we scrutinize the lyrics, Dylan’s musical contribution is just as important…[He] leads us into the studio, reviews the recording sessions, and analyzes the various takes. In doing so, he shows how a song develops musically—much like looking at early drafts of a novel. Studied in this way, our understanding of each song is enriched.”
—American Quarterly
(, )

Review

"Polizzotti's key contribution is to return our attention to the music, to remind us that however much we scrutinize the lyrics, Dylan's musical contribution is just as important...[He] leads us into the studio, reviews the recording sessions, and analyzes the various takes. In doing so, he shows how a song develops musically much like looking at early drafts of a novel. Studied in this way, our understanding of each song is enriched." American Quarterly--,

Product Details

  • File Size: 264 KB
  • Print Length: 171 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0826417752
  • Publisher: Continuum (December 11, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0030I0PZO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,160 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything the 33 1/3 books should be February 3, 2009
Format:Paperback
I have read a handful of the 33 1/3 line of books, each devoted to a landmark album, and Polizzotti's may be the best.

For starters, it's well-researched, adds original research by Polizzotti himself-- including interviews with the Highway 61 session musicians-- and seeks to settle any mysteries or contradictions extant in previous sources (like who played second guitar on Desolation Row). This is unsurprising, as Polizzotti has proven himself a rigorous scholar in such works as Revolution of the Mind: The Life of Andre Breton, which was clearly assembled from a mountain of primary sources and original research (and done in French, no less!).

But in addition to solid research, Polizzotti has written an intensely personal book on his history with and interpretation of Highway 61. He walks a fine line, never letting his obviously large vocabulary lead him too far into questionable interpretive territory. His interpretations are convincing, or at least always well-reasoned and explained. When it's impossible or difficult to say what Dylan means by a certain lyric or song (which, as Dylan fans know, is often), Polizzotti has no problem admitting it. He does not force or stretch his interpretations over Dylan's many enigmas.

And this, I believe, is what makes this the perfect 33 1/3 book. If Polizzotti were writing a traditional biographical or journalistic account of Highway 61's creation, his personal descriptions and interpretations would intrude on the narrative. But here, they are not only welcome but epitomize the spirit of the 33 1/3 line. An excellent piece of Dylan scholarship and a fine read for anyone seeking to decode Highway 61 (as far as such a task is possible).
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the series March 23, 2008
Format:Paperback
This is the best of the 331/3 series - I'm a dylan freak who's read all the books, yet this has new information (from interviews with Bob Johnston, Al Kooper and others) and insights galore into what was going on in dylan's private and public life and how that found it's way into the lyrics and music of Highway 61. I was sorry to reach the end and wish Mark would write a similar volume on Blonde on Blonde.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magnificent Achievement June 26, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the best book ever written about Bob Dylan, and one of the best books I've ever read. Polizzotti writes beautifully; he also knows more and understands more than any other Dylanologist I know.

Charles Kaiser
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revisiting Highway 61 January 16, 2011
Format:Paperback
This is the fifth book in this series that I've read, and it is very good. The book is about the album, Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan, and the making of the album, and very little else. It is focused and informative, written in a style that is engaging and reflective, and has brought a deeper understanding to me about Dylan's style and method, as well the album itself. Many of Bob Dylan's songs have eluded me. Even though I may have liked them very much, I often had no idea what many of the songs were about, and many of the translations I would read about or hear from friends didn't make all that much sense. Mark Pollizzatti very comfortably sets the scene for each song, giving it paragraphs and pages of input, giving the reader background information about Dylan, the songs' subjects, and interesting tidbits about Americana that gives the songs greater depth and lends them an easier understanding. And while many of his interpretations are his interpretations, they seem to work well for me, much more so than my own interpretations or that of, say, what a typical Rolling Stone music critic might offer. (Not that there is anything wrong with them).

One example of this might be the number one song of all-time, "Like A Rolling Stone." We've heard all of our lives that songs can be interpreted anyway that the listener wants. It's also true that while a song may have several interpretations, the writer had set out with his own idea. I've spent the last 45 years seeing "Like A Rolling Stone" as a song that was crying out to 'todays' (60s teens) youth, giving them hope, while letting them know that they must get moving, get out there and make your world kind of thing.
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Format:Audible Audio Edition
For some reason audible.com seems to have forgotten that I bought this book and won't let me respond to three brain-dead reviewers who write off the whole book because the narrator says "quote .../unquote" when quoting something. Whatever you think of that technique, the narration is well better than average and the book is absolutely brilliant. I love the whole 33 1/3 series - some more than others - every book has a different writer and narrator. This particular one is, along with Stevie Wonder and Elvis Costello, among the very best. My advice to would-be reviewers: if you don't think the album under study was well worth writing a book about, and if you're not interesting in learning a lot of intricate details about it, then you have no business reviewing it. We're extremely fortunate to live in a time when books on obscure topics are made available to connoisseurs. Go find something that appeals to you and stop cluttering up the review section with critiques of the premise of writing about rock albums.
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More About the Author

Mark Polizzotti is an award-winning biographer, critic, translator, editor, and poet. His books include the collaborative novel S. (1991; with Harry Mathews, Jean Echenoz, et al.), Lautreamont Nomad (1994; revised ed. 2005), Revolution of the Mind: The Life of Andre Breton (1995; revised ed. 2009), a monograph on Luis Bunuel's Los Olvidados (2006), and Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited (2006). His essays and reviews have appeared in The New Republic, ARTnews, The Nation, Parnassus, Partisan Review, and elsewhere. The translator of over thirty books from the French, including works by Gustave Flaubert, Marguerite Duras, Andre Breton, Jean Echenoz, and Maurice Roche, he directs the publications program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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