Thursday, April 21, 2011
Selections from his book on Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes will kick off national tour
Acclaimed writer and critic Greil Marcus will launch a national tour of readings from his book "The Old, Weird America: The World of Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes" at the legendary Vesuvio Cafe in San Francisco on Tuesday, May 3 - exactly three weeks before Dylan's 70th birthday. The program will be free, open to anyone 21 and older and will start at 7 p.m.
Marcus' analyses of Dylan's work (recently collected in an anthology that spans 42 years, and which include the liner notes for the original release of "The Basement Tapes" by Columbia Records in 1975) have been hailed widely as some of the most astute and penetrating ever done. "No previous writer has so transportingly or authoritatively revealed Mr. Dylan against the receding vistas of American music and culture,” wrote Robert Polito in The New York Times Book Review. In Newsday, Stephanie Zacharek called "The Old, Weird America" the "year’s best work of criticism, hands down" while David Remnick in The New Yorker praised its "mad, sparkling brilliance." Dylan himself has said the book "goes deeply into the subconscious and plows through that period of time like a rake. Greil Marcus has done it again.”
Marcus, whose writings on popular culture also have focused on artists from Harmonica Frank and Robert Johnson to Elvis Presley, Randy Newman, Van Morrison, David Lynch and Marlon Brando, has taught at U.C. Berkeley, Princeton and the New School in New York City. He will take questions from the audience.
Vesuvio, at 255 Columbus Ave. in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, is an especially appropriate place for Marcus' tour to begin. In the '50s and early '60s, it was the bar of choice for the beats who would gather at City Lights Books right across the alley: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, writers who were exerting an enormous influence on a kid named Robert Zimmerman - who over the years himself would have a few drinks at Vesuvio. Now more than 63 years old, it remains a hangout for poets, artists, actors and musicians, cab drivers and chess players, exotic dancers and seamen, business people and barflies - bon vivants from all walks of life, who have come from as close as the next street over and as far away as Mars.
For more information, call (415) 362-3370.