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blowing in the wind or facing into it, writing a song or crafting a career—for example, Bob Dylan.

IN 1984, IN HIS BOOK book Rock Stars, Timothy White made the heretical statement that the music of Bob Dylan was ultimately less significant than Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-a-Lula.” Dylan’s songs were “of the ’time-and-place’ stripe,” White said, while “Be-Bop-a-Lula” existed on its “own terms. . . . It is an emotion preserved in song, unconditional, wholly without boundaries!’ Dylan’s songs were themselves boundaries, and together they simply made a map; they told a certain generation, a certain pop audience, where it was. Once that audience vanished, the songs would go with it. In 1969, Nik Cohn had said much the same thing in Rock from the Beginning, the first important book on the music: ”In my own life, the Monotones have meant more in one line of ’Book of Love’ than Dylan did in the whole of Blonde on Blonde."

It’s time to take up this argument, if only because a quarter century after

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