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Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus

Bob Dylan in the studio, ca. 1962. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.

Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus: Writings 1968–2010, by Greil Marcus. New York: PublicAffairs. 512 pages. $30.

COLUMBIA RECORDS has just reissued Bob Dylan’s first eight albums, of 1962–68, in their original mono format. These are the canonical recordings—at their center is the great trilogy of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde—that changed popular music forever. With what seems to have been either terrible luck or an extraordinary critical opportunity, Greil Marcus began writing about Dylan right as this period ended.

We know what the response was when Dylan went electric in 1965 and stopped writing “finger-pointing” songs: The old folkies at Newport and the whingeing youths of Manchester were angrily disillusioned. But what happened in the early ’70s was, in a way, worse. Many of those who had kept faith were stunned; Dylan seemed to be

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