Minnesota music history comes alive at M&Q when rock’s preeminent historian sits down with a local legend to discuss Bob Dylan. Greil Marcus and Papa John Kolstad visit M&Q at 7:30pm, Thursday, May 26
Previously published as Invisible Republic and already considered a classic of modern American cultural criticism, The Old, Weird America is Greil Marcus’s widely acclaimed book on the secret music (the so-called “Basement Tapes”) made by Bob Dylan and the Band while in seclusion in Woodstock, New York, in 1967–a folksy yet funky, furious yet hilarious music that remains as seductive and baffling today as it was more than thirty years ago.
As Mark Sinker observed in The Wire: “Marcus’s contention is that there can be found in American folk a community as deep, as electric, as perverse, and as conflicted as all America, and that the songs Dylan recorded out of the public eye, in a basement in Woodstock, are where that community as a whole gets to speak.” But the country mapped out in this book, as Bruce Shapiro wrote in The Nation, “is not Woody Guthrie’s land for made for you and me… It’s what Marcus calls ‘the old, weird America.'” This odd terrain, this strange yet familiar backdrop to our common cultural history–which Luc Sante (in New York magazine) termed the “playground of God, Satan, tricksters, Puritans, confidence men, illuminati, braggarts, preachers, anonymous poets of all stripes”–is the territory that Marcus has discovered in Dyaln’s most mysterious music. And his analysis of that territory “reads like a thriller” (Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly) and exhibits “a mad, sparkling brilliance” (David Remnick, The New Yorker) throughout.
“Marcus draws bold freehand loops around Dylan’s music, loops so wide and loose that they take in not just the breadth of American folk music, but huge chunks of American history as well. This is the best kind of history book, one that acknowledges that mythology is sometimes the truest kind of fact.”–Stephanie Zachareck, Newsday
Papa John Kolstad is a longtime Minneapolis musician–and mayoral candidate.