- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (May 15, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805058427
- ISBN-13: 978-0805058420
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,228,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes Paperback – May 15, 1998
While focusing on a select group of musicians performing privately in a brief window of time, noted music and culture writer Greil Marcus cuts to the core of the American musical legacy to study it as a slightly blurred snapshot, full of shadow and mystery. Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes centers around the now legendary recordings made by Bob Dylan and The Band in 1967, and how this music signaled a change in American music by capturing the essence of the moment within the context of a rich folk tradition. During these casual sessions they recorded more than 100 songs, some originals, but most borrowed from barely remembered folk, blues, and country musicians.
This music they derived from had been part of the American fabric in an anonymous way that can only be explained as folklore and myth, and they breathed new life into it while adhering to its legacy. Though never intended for release, these recordings molded into the tradition of music as oral history, and appropriately, a few tapes were passed hand to hand, then some were pressed as bootleg records, which then spread like rumors. This folk revival conjured up a collection of timeless stories that many had heard in a slightly different form without ever knowing who started them. Just as Dylan did with the Basement Tapes, Marcus's exhilarating book extends beyond music and into the psyche of America, making the present more clear by putting the past into focus. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Library Journal
Marcus here expands on his liner notes to the 1975 Basement Tapes album, the first official release of the legendary recordings by Bob Dylan and the Band in 1967. One of rock's most respected writers, Marcus (Ranters and Crowd Pleasers: Punk in Pop Music, 1977-92, LJ 4/15/93) draws on a dizzying breadth of references that link Dylan's music with such disparate sources as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Jefferson, and Moby Dick. Strongest are the parallels drawn between the basement tapes and the Folkways Anthology of American Folk Music compilation album, which was the catalyst for the folk revival of the 1950s and 1960s. Unfortunately, Marcus often seems overly impressed by his own prose at the risk of obscuring his point: "The performance turned the wheel of its lassitude" sounds good, but what does it mean? Extremely useful is the annotated discography of all known recordings (more than 100) from the basement tapes sessions. Expect demands from fans of both the author and artist.?Lloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., Cal.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The strange thing is that I didn't even think that much of Bob Dylan's "The Basement Tapes". I always thought of it as some jams by a great band with some half-finished lyrics slurred and snarled and mush-mouthed bluffed over it. The album made me wish Dylan could have stayed on amphetamines a little longer. His central nervous system and heart probably enjoyed the break, but the Basement Tapes ain't no Blonde on Blonde. With that said, I still love this book, maddening though it is.
Like in his earlier book, "Lipstick Traces", Marcus is interested in making cultural/historical connections. Showing how music from the recent past ties into much older traditions. Some of these connections are brilliant, some are completely mad (but he gets points for audaciousness nonethless) and some I remain dubious about.
What the Basement Tapes have to do with the West Virginia coal war of the 1920's I still don't have a clue, but what I learned of the coal war in this book made me interested enough to order a book Marcus recommended.
Even if the connections aren't really there this book does stimulate your curiosity.
And I can see where the divisiveness comes into it. It's the old argument that "folk music is about social protest" versus the "folk music is about flowers growing from the skulls of murdered lovers in their graves".
Woody Guthrie versus Harry Smith.Read more ›
But it's all down hill from there, because Dylan, The Band, the tapes all dissappear into the shadows. They end up becoming just another facet, rather than the focus of the book. There's a lengthy chapter on Harry Smith's "Anthology of American Folk Music" and Marcus' woefully insubstantial literary analysis of a handful of "Tapes" songs that tell us more about the workings(?) of Marcus' mind than of the music. After all, how much can lyrics like "Ooh baby/ooh wee/it's that million dollar bash" really be explicated? The answer found in this book is: far too much.
If this had indeed been a book about Dylan, about the months he and The Band spent in Woodstock NY, about the process of making music--specificaly the music the book claims it will be about (and The Basement Tapes, as eventually distributed by Columbia are important enough to enough people to merit such consideration)--about the atmosphere and events surrounding the music, this would have been a much more enlightening read. I wanted to see Marcus do for the making of the tapes what he does so well for the Albert Hall concert--make me feel like I'm there. But Marcus' context overwhelms his alleged focus to the point that the title and the jacket are essentially false advertisements. Dylan fans: caveat emptor.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well, I ordered this book, not knowing it was the British version of "Old Weird America". Nothing in the blurb about this book said so. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Michael Kennedy
What is this s**t?!? This book has so little to do with the Basement Tapes. Check it out at the library and see for yourself before you waste your money. Read morePublished on September 9, 2014 by Michael Harris
Firstly, this book has precious little information about the Basement Tapes, the Band or Bob Dylan so the title is deceiving!!! Read morePublished on March 22, 2014 by Michael Sakolsky
"The Basement Tapes" is one of my favorite albums of all time. I love Dylan and the Band --- at least most of their stuff --- and also am interested in history. Read morePublished on May 16, 2012 by Donald E. Gilliland
Marcus, who used to review rock records, now seems to be mostly writing books. He specializes in connecting whatever performer he is interested in to various historical trends and... Read morePublished on April 10, 2012 by T. Burrows
Whew!!! That's gotta be the looooooongest liner notes to a cd I've EVER read! But don't get me wrong. Read morePublished on August 5, 2005 by J S Via
I know this book revolves around an abstract idea linking Bob Dylan`s basement tapes to an old , lost America ( the invisible Republic ) , but , oh dear , where do I begin ? Read morePublished on January 22, 2002 by P. D. Laffey