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Introduction: Time to Say Goodbye Again

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 April 2021

Sean Latham
Affiliation:
University of Tulsa
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Summary

Is there any writer or performer more haunting – and more haunted – than Bob Dylan? We recognize his songs, his vision, his inventiveness, his poetry, and especially his distinctive voice nearly everywhere: in music and film, popular culture and politics, global protest movements and intimate moments of self-reflection. As he now turns eighty, it’s a shock to realize that, for most us, Dylan has always been there, singing, touring, laughing, snarling, and sometimes even hawking whiskey and underwear. Like the members of the Nobel committee that awarded him the world’s most important cultural prize, we know he is a vastly influential artist. But which Dylan is it? The folk-singing activist who shared the stage with Dr. King at the March on Washington? The rocker in Ray Bans and a leather jacket who faced down hostile crowds by ordering his band to “play it fucking loud?” Is it the country boy who went to Nashville and befriended Johnny Cash? Or the Beat-inspired hipster who took to the road with a ramshackle medicine show? The Christian convert? The brilliant curator of folk and blues? The Sinatra-inspired crooner? Or the weary old man who’s “standin’ in the doorway cryin’?”

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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