7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
the roses are worth the thorns,
This review is from: The Rose & the Briar: Death, Love and Liberty in the American Ballad (Paperback)
There are some really amazing essays here, notably, Greil Marcus's envoi. Dave Marsh on "Barbara Allen" lifts a lot of ancient stuff out of the shadows and sets it in a clean, well lighted place. Sarah Vowell on "John Brown's Body" tells us a lot more about the ballad than we might have imagined. Cecil Brown on "Frankie and Albert" is a delight. Frankie's life is worthy of several ballads. R. Crumb's graphics make this a classic. His letter to the editor slaps a few of the other essayists out of the fetid air like horse flies. The graphics are fine, so I don't know what a previous reviewer was complaining about. Maybe he got a bad a copy.
There are some real clunkers here, however. Wendy Lesser's piece is lost at sea. This is such a dissappointment when there is so much to say about Dylan, and she is such a fine writer, and Greil Marcus has written such great stuff on Dylan. Stanley Crouch's essay is fine, but it has nothing to do with ballads. David Thomas is a high-fallootin intellectualizer. "An imperative that derives from a gestalt of geography, sound, and culture fixes and vitalizes and drives certain musics." Wouldn't you love to see this guy have a conversation with Bob Dylan? Would he know a ballad if he stepped on one barefoot?