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FILLING THE VOID: THE ART OF MUNGO THOMSON

MUNGO THOMSON’S The Collected Live Recordings of Bob Dylan 1963–1995, 1999, is a compact disc with a hole in the middle—not just literally, but metaphorically, too. For while the recording encompasses, in chronological order, all the live albums made by the Minnesota-born singer-songwriter for Columbia Records over the course of thirty-two years, one crucial component is missing: Dylan’s music. Every song has been edited out, leaving a twenty-five-minute flow of crowd noises that rise, like grit-filled waves, in gently clattering crescendos, then break, recede, and build again, sometimes accompanied by brief bursts of onstage patter. The record is relaxing, to a degree, ushering in a contemplative state for the listener. But minds tranquilized by these organic swells of sound might end up focusing on their shifting particularity, imagining the audiences that create them, and surfing

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