DETERMINED TO STAND
The Reinvention of Bob Dylan
….It’s almost like I heard it as a voice. It wasn’t like it was even me thinking it… I’m determined to stand, whether God will deliver me or not…
Although Bob Dylan’s music of the 1960s and 70s was highly acclaimed and vastly influential, by the mid 1980s his creativity had dipped so low that he was seriously thinking of retiring. Yet from the late ‘90s onwards he began to produce work that was comparable in quality to that of his heyday. The action in these extraordinary songs appears to take place in an indeterminate historical period, sometime between the American Civil War and the present day; in a mythic landscape of noisy, smoky honky tonks and juke joints; haunted by the ghosts of the great blues and country music legends, along with various long-lost crooners and torch singers. The songs reference a vast number of literary texts, ranging from Ancient Greek epics and the King James Bible to Shakespeare, the Romantic and Symbolist poets. They tell the story of Dylan’s personal battle to reclaim contact with his poetic muse.
In his latest book on the singer-songwriter, the author Chris Gregory traces the way in which Dylan, by focusing on his roots in folk, blues, country and gospel music, was able to reinvent his art and his persona from the 1990s onward to create a new and unique body of work. The book is an in depth study of Bob Dylan’s songs from 1997’s Time Out of Mind to 2020’s Rough and Rowdy Ways. It also focuses on the crucial role that the live performances on Dylan’s Never Ending Tour (1988 to the present) played in his battle to find ways of remaining creative despite the onset of ageing. Dylan’s friend and contemporary Bruce Springsteen has called him “the father of the nation”.
Dylan is now being taught in universities and the author’s semi-academic books have been used on university courses. As this year the interest will be particularly high as Dylan celebrates his 80th birthday in May, then the latest book from Chris Gregory will please all of the poet’s many fans out there. As Dylan’s prophecies are so relevant today as they were back in 1964…the times they are a changin’ but still determined to stand and write new songs for his next generation of fans.
(Chris Gregory is a poet, novelist and author who is currently based in the UK. He has written several ground breaking books on popular culture over the past 25 years. His latest work ‘Determined to Stand – The Reinvention of Bob Dylan’ is already proving to be very popular not just with fans but also with academics, musicians and the general public. Priced at £12 The book was officially released on 1st April 2021. It is available in paperback, eBook and audio book formats. The audio book is read by the author himself.) All available from his website at https://chrisgregory.org/product-category/chris-gregory/
“Gregory’s writing is wonderful. He manages to be truly informative and explanatory as well as being really easy to read” Derek Barker (Bob Dylan Isis magazine)
Featured image courtesy of Chris Gregory