Wicked Messenger: Bob Dylan and the 1960s
First published under the title Chimes of Freedom, now revised and expanded.
A nuanced analysis of Bob Dylan's response, through his music, to the political and social forces that shook America in the 1960s.
Bob Dylan's abrupt abandonment of overtly political songwriting in the mid-1960s caused an uproar among critics and fans. In Wicked Messenger, acclaimed cultural-political commentator Mike Marqusee advances the new thesis that Dylan did not drop politics from his songs but changed the manner of his critique to address the changing political and cultural climate and, more importantly, his own evolving aesthetic.
Wicked Messenger is also a riveting political history of the United States in the 1960s. Tracing the development of the decade's political and cultural dissent movements, Marqusee shows how their twists and turns were anticipated in the poetic aesthetic—anarchic, unaccountable, contradictory, punk—of Dylan's mid-sixties albums, as well as in his recent artistic ventures in Chronicles, Vol. I and Masked and Anonymous.
Dylan's anguished, self-obsessed, prickly artistic evolution, Marqusee asserts, was a deeply creative response to a deeply disturbing situation. "He can no longer tell the story straight," Marqusee concludes, "because any story told straight is a false one."
"In this remarkable reflection on the culture of the sixties, Mike Marqusee restores the forgotten moral and political contexts of Dylan's supernova years. In doing so, he rescues one of the most urgent poetic voices in American history from the condescension of his own later cynicism." —Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz.