Songwriting legend Bob Dylan announced plans Monday for the release of a new book, The Philosophy of Modern Song. The release will mark Dylan’s third effort as an author, and his first since receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016.
According to a press release, The Philosophy of Modern Song will feature dozens of essays penned by Bob Dylan, through which he will conduct analysis of songs by other artists. Artists whose music will be referenced throughout the prose are said to include Hank Williams, Elvis Costello, and Stephen Foster, among others.
Bob Dylan reportedly began work on the book in 2010, and through it, will offer readers some understanding of his own approach to songcraft. This rare glimpse behind the curtain of the notoriously private songsmith’s process will address everything from “the trap of easy rhymes” to the use of syllables in songwriting. These essays will also see Bob Dylan discussing the functions of different genres, including bluegrass as it pertains to heavy metal, of all things. Also featured, will be 150 specifically selected photos, as well as “a series of dream-like riffs that resemble an epic poem.”
While the overarching theme of the book’s essays will of course be music, they are, in essence, purported to be “meditations and reflections on the human condition.” This would come as little surprise, as layered symbolism and deeply embedded elucidation have become hallmarks of the Bob Dylan canon, which itself is generally accepted to be a loose, encapsulating exposition on the human condition.
The book has already been made available for pre-order through publisher Simon & Schuster, as well as a number of other outlets including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million. Thus far, available pre-order formats for the book include hardcover, eBook, audio download, and compact disk.
The Philosophy of Modern Song will mark the first book release from the Nobel Prize winner since 2004’s Chronicles: Volume One, which hit shelves nearly two decades ago. Chronicles: Volume One, also published through Simon & Schuster, is regarded by most as a memoir, and has thus far been the only release of this type pursued by the songwriter.
Despite its revered status as the only official Bob Dylan autobiography in existence, Chronicles: Volume One is a fairly brief affair, touching only on very specific periods of the singer’s extensive career. The periods in question are presented within the framework of their corresponding albums, namely 1961’s Bob Dylan, 1970’s New Morning, and 1989’s Oh Mercy.
The possibility of a second autobiographical literary entry, Chronicles: Volume Two, has been highly anticipated since the release of the initial volume, with Bob Dylan himself having hinted heavily at the possibility of up to three entries in an ongoing Chronicles series. Chronicles: Volume One was released to heavy fanfare, and spent a total of 19 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list.
Bob Dylan’s first proper attempt at a book came in the form of Tarantula, a loose poetry collection concocted during his “going electric” period in the mid-1960s. By Dylan’s own admission, the collection was never meant to be taken seriously as any sort of structured narrative, and the project itself came about at the insistence of his former manager, Albert Grossman. Publication of the book was delayed following Dylan’s infamous 1966 motorcycle accident, though it eventually did see release in 1971.
In the present day, Dylan has been keeping busy touring in support of his highly acclaimed 39th album, Rough and Rowdy Ways. The ongoing tour – dubbed the Rough and Rowdy Ways World Wide Tour – acts a continuation of Dylan’s so-called never ending tour, and kicked off in November, 2021. Following a three-month break for the holidays, the tour recently ramped up once more for its second leg, which will also take place in North America. Though available dates are only booked into April at this time, the tour is scheduled to continue into the year 2024.
Bob Dylan Announces New Book: The Philosophy of Modern Song article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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