Posts Tagged ‘Bob Dylan’
September 5, 2013 | by Jonathan Franzen
This week, to celebrate the launch of our Fall issue, we will preview a few of our favorite footnotes from “Against Heine,” Jonathan Franzen’s translation of the Austrian writer Karl Kraus. Click here to get your subscription now!
And Heine had a talent for being embraced by young souls and thus associated with young experiences.48
48 J. D. Salinger might be an example of an American writer whose reputation has similarly benefitted from being read in people’s youth. But consider here, too, the periodic arguments from Bob Dylan fans that Dylan deserves the Nobel Prize in Literature.
June 18, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
March 14, 2013 | by Matt Domino
No one under the age of fifty really listens to Frank Sinatra anymore. Like anything else, there may be exceptions to this fact, but overall it’s true. Frank Sinatra is a legendary artist whose work will always be enjoyed and referred to. However, his era of direct relevancy is obviously long gone, and his era of anecdotal relevancy is starting to fade.
We associate Frank Sinatra with a bygone era of America, a time of guys and dolls, a time when people would swing and dance and when the lounge singer was king. Sinatra’s unique talent was maintaining this vision even as it eroded away over time—to make you feel old-fashioned feelings in a modern era. Sinatra’s heyday was from the late forties to the late fifties, yet he recorded “New York, New York” in 1977. And “My Way” makes you feel like a proud man looking over the skyline of post–World War II Manhattan, even in 2013.
Still, Sinatra’s most overlooked achievement is perhaps the one album he made that did not feel as though it was evoking the era he loved or knew the most. In 1969, the same year that Frank Sinatra recorded “My Way,” he released an album called Watertown. Chances are, even some of the biggest Sinatra fans—like my grandparents and great aunts and uncles—have forgotten about Watertown. But Watertown is Frank Sinatra’s best album and his most enduring contribution to American culture. Read More »
February 20, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
While we can’t pretend to have actually asked the question, “What if best-selling albums had been books instead?”, we can all agree that the answer, from British designer Christophe Gowans, is brilliant. (We’d suggest The White Album, but, well.)
January 16, 2013 | by Jessica Gross
In October, Marie-Helene Bertino published her debut collection of short stories, Safe as Houses. Her writing often involves fantastical elements—an embodied idea of an ex-boyfriend, an alien who faxes observations about human beings to her home planet, a woman who brings Bob Dylan home for Thanksgiving dinner—that advance painful story lines. Her language is spare, direct, and hilarious, which makes the characters’ losses that much more deeply felt. Bertino is now at work on a novel centering on a jazz club in Philadelphia called the Cat’s Pajamas.
We spoke for two hours in a Brooklyn coffee shop, which was flooded with girls on their lunch break from school.
Reading Safe as Houses, I was struck by the number of characters who aren’t really seen by others. By the last few stories, the characters start to become more visible. Does that theme ring true to you?
I would totally agree with that, though I was not conscious of it. I was aware that a lot of characters were on the outskirts of something—of their towns, their groups of friends, their families, their societies. And at the risk of sounding cliché, I think that’s a metaphor for being a writer. I mean literally and figuratively—you have to stand on the outside to watch a group of people and then be able to write about them, but in practice, it’s also a solitary art, as they say. And I think that those characters definitely are a reflection of that kind of observer quality in me.
November 26, 2012 | by Adelaide Docx
Going to a Bob Dylan gig these days requires a certain sort of mindset. Worship, obviously, but also a readiness not to see or hear anything pleasant for two hours. The greatest fan of Dylan I have ever met wears earplugs during his concerts. And Dylan’s voice on his latest album occasionally sounds terrifyingly close to a death rattle. Last week, by way of preparation for a performance at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center my friend put himself on an expectation-suppressing diet of the worst ever Dylan tracks. “I listened to ‘Let’s Stick Together’ from ‘Down in the Groove,’” he reported, “Awful. Just dreadful, and the worst CD sound imaginable. Loved it!”
Brooklyn was Dylan’s last stop on a thirty-three city U.S. tour. And moments into his first set, he had us all wondering once again what we were doing there. As if to underline this question, a mirror was set up, front of stage—face-out. Without any sort of greeting, Dylan entered under his white brimmed hat and croaked “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” indecipherably from behind the keyboard. Only one word really came through: “Whoo-ee!” The earplugs went in next to me, the crowd dug in—silent, enduring. It looked like we were in for another terrible night, but as the song advanced one detected a devious energy in the delivery, a hint that he could give better. And he did—a lot better.
Old songs in new arrangements sounded as though they had just been written, and details to which he gave focused articulation, seemed alive with fresh experience. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”, drained of bitterness and self-pity, was sung with mischief, and gentle curiosity. Lines like “You could have done better / But I don’t mind” became almost forgiving. In a haunting rendition of “Visions of Johanna,” he brought immediacy to the smallest fragments of narrative, singing of the room where “the heat pipes just cough” as though he’d just come from a small cramped apartment in the Village. And even when Dylan misses a line, it can seem palpably present to a fan in the grip of aural madness. In the same song, I thought I heard him whisper of “escapades out on the D train” as vividly as though he might have taken the D train to the Barclays Center that evening, but Earplugs (can he lip read Dylan?) turned to me moments after and said, “Skipped a line”.