INVISIBLE REPUBLIC

BOB DYLANíS BASEMENT TAPES

BY GREIL MARCUS

Reviewed by bdpoe
bdpoe@aol.com

   This book is initially as hard to figure out as itís subject.  
It is a historical weaving of somewhat loose associations and 
connections that come together in Bob Dylanís influence on 
American culture using the bootleg collection of recordings known 
as The Basement Tapes as a springboard.

   Invisible Republic traces the influences and transitions of 
music and culture in the 1960ís. From the folk revival of the 
late 1950ís, Artists featured on the founding document of the 
movement Anthology of American Folk Music are explored. It was  
Bob Dylanís first true map of a republic that was still a hunch 
to him  Marcus writes.

  Dylan is seen as the voice of a generation, a prophetic musical 
messiah and an alchemist whose Basement Tapes give rise to a ghostly
republic of disparate personages. He is the champion of a liberal 
movement steeped in traditionalism who takes a dive by transforming 
rock and roll. This jester has the final laugh in that these 
recordings, laid down as a goof in his home in Woodstock are the 
subject of such a serious book some 33 years later.

   Once the darling of the folk movement, Dylan shocked audiences 
and fellow musicians, like Pete Seeger, by performing an electric 
set featuring Maggieís Farm and Like a Rolling Stone at the 1965 
Newport Folk Festival. The shocked crowd erupted in booing and 
Pete Seeger was restrained from tacking an ax to Dylanís electrical 
cords. Through out the tours that followed, Dylan and The Band were 
met with discontent over the electrified sets. 

   When Dylan and The Band played Britain their rock renditions were
met with obscenity and jeers. In Wales, only those backstage got to 
see Dylan and Johnny Cash singing together at the piano. Cash teasingly
punched Dylan in the chest who replied "You wouldnít do that to your 
best friend!" as they continued to find the melody to one of Cashís 
songs. The criticism from audiences and critics were blows Dylan took 
more painfully.

   Just as he had revolutionized American Folk music, Dylan was,
despite
the angry protests, redefining rock and roll - injecting it with 
poetry, social commentary and introspection. Although he was 
accused of selling out, the very catalyst for a new movement in 
rock, went into hiding, goofing off with The Band making music 
strictly for their own amusement. Comparing the recordings to the 
Watergate tapes years later, Robbie Robertson said that on a lot
of stuff Dylan remarked We should destroy this. 

   Though The Basement Tapes circulated as bootlegged pirated
recordings Dylan did release an albums worth of selections
from these sessions ten years later. From their experimentation
Dylan resumed his career and the back up group became known as
The Band. Dylan bounced from folk, country, bluegrass and rock
having hits in every genre.

  Invisible Republic is essentially about American Music. 
It is complex yet masterfully written and a good addition 
to the history of American music. Greil Marcus also provides 
some of the liner notes on the remastered 6 CD set Anthology 
of American Folk Music. Bob Dylan LIVE 1966, the previously 
bootlegged Albert Hall concert can be sampled and ordered at
http://www.bobdylan.com


BDPoe@aol.com

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