Bob Dylan’s new book ‘The Philosophy of Modern Song’ is an open love letter to music

Bob Dylan’s ‘The Philosophy of Modern Song’ serves as a window to the legendary musician’s mind.

From his very unique advantage of being firmly ensconced among the upper echelons of the music industry, Dylan’s new book ‘The Philosophy of the Modern Song’ (Simon & Schuster) is one helluva personal love letter to music.

Paying homage to the great songwriters and singers of the last 70 years, from Hank Williams, Little Richard, Allen Toussaint, Roy Orbison, and The Clash.

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Photo: Heaven’s Door Whiskey

Dylan also delights in personal observations, comparing audience members at a Grateful Dead concert to those at a Rolling Stones concert, writes:

“There is a big difference in the types of women that you see from the stage when you are with the Stones compared to the Dead. With the Stones, it’s like being at a porno convention. With the Dead, it’s more like the women you see by the river in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou? Free floating, snaky and slithering like in a typical daydream…”

Interestingly, of the 60-odd songs Dylan writes about, only two are from this century — two! — and both are by deceased artists (Warren Zevon’s “Dirty Life and Times” and John Trudell’s “Doesn’t Hurt Anymore”). (San Deigo Tribune)

Dylan loves the 80’s, although his musings and ponderings all seem to fall largely between the 1930s and 1970s, with the added penchant for the songs that ruled the airwaves when he was a teen, in the 40’s and 50’s.

bob dylan's new book

What is clear, is that Bob Dylans delights in sharing his thoughts on music, past, and present, which makes for an immersive read, keeping in mind it’s not an anthology, it’s more akin to a poetic diary, which is perfectly fitting for someone who is considered one of the greatest living writers, lyricists, and poets of our time. 

The audible version of “The Philosophy of Modern Song” features chapters read by Helen Mirren, Jeff Bridges, Renée Zellweger, Rita Moreno and Sissy Spacek.