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Thursday, 11 January 2018

Light Come Shining: The Transformations of Bob Dylan

In Light Come Shining: The Transformations of Bob Dylan (Oxford University Press) Andrew McCarron:

'deems major turning points in the songwriter’s life and career: his 1966 motorcycle accident, his mid-1970s conversion to Christianity, and his newfound creative spark in the late 1980s. All three, argues the author, are manifestations of a consistent “script” in which Dylan confronts his fear of death, becomes transfigured, and channels that transfiguration in new ways into his music. In coming to these conclusions, McCarron had no assistance from Dylan himself or those close to him; this work of “psychobiography” is based solely on a close study of Dylan’s interviews, writing, and performances. Though the author’s discussion of psychobiology is often leaden, overall the book is an insightful and often persuasive work, particularly in how spiritual themes (especially apocalyptic ones) persist in Dylan’s music. (Counter to the assumption that Dylan cast off his Christianity sometime in the early 1980s, McCarron finds plenty of evidence that the faith still matters to him.) Beyond Dylan’s music career, McCarron also explores the influence of his Jewish background, his growing up during the Cold War, and his upbringing in rural Minnesota as playing essential roles in his story.' (Kirkus Review)

Richie Unterberger writes that:

'The book is most persuasive when examining how spiritual themes, quite often of an apocalyptic nature, persist in Dylan’s music. For instance, McCarron finds that Dylan’s conversion to Christianity and a kind of fundamentalist gospel-rock that mystified and angered many of his longtime fans can be understood as “a meta-narrative of death and redemptive change that found relatively easy expression in the Christian stories and symbols that Dylan embraced as he approached the age of forty.” And although Dylan eased off on his hard-line Christianity within a few years, McCarron finds evidence that the faith still matters to him, and that elements of the language associated with his religious fervor linger in his music.'


Bob Dylan - Pressing On.

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