Have you ever read Old Weird America by Greil Marcus? It’s ostensibly about Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes, the sessions, the times, the world around and all that.
What it is, really, is the deepest exploration of American – and along with it – Western – culture I have ever read.
This book is deep. Whole chapters interpreting the meaning of one song, entire groups of chapters explaining how the stories in those songs are universal, how they grew out of real-life experiences and events, and grew until they became legend, about how the legends actually matter more than the facts.
Large sections describing the beauty, the majesty, the viciousness and the shame of everyday life. Deep insights questioning whether any of the history as we know it is real, at least real in comparison to the passions and follies of men and women – good and bad – sung about in the folk and blues of rural America.
And that music is what informs just about all the music you listen to, so whether or not you give a damn about Doc Boggs and Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly and Robert Johnson – or Bob Dylan or Led Zeppelin – that music is important.
I quickly lost count of the insights, epiphanies and “a-ha’s.” Rock history, sociology, anthropology, musicology … this book is deep.