A blog about Bloomsbury Academic's 33 1/3 series, our other books about music, and the world of sound in general.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Book Expo, Sly Stone, Dylan

Got back from Book Expo in DC yesterday. Considering it was the first time Continuum had taken a booth there for a few years (hence, they quite reasonably gave us a crappy spot in the massive exhibit hall), it went very well. Met lots of people, handed out lots of freebies, got lavished with food and alcohol by our dear friends at Google. Next year, BEA returns to the Javits Centre in NYC - we'll have a better location, much more free stuff, and we'll put together a kick-ass 33 1/3 party, too.


Two reviews of Miles Marshall Lewis' Sly Stone book:

The Source (May 2006), by Sidik Fofana -- "Miles Marshall Lewis analyzes one of the essential funk albums, Sly and the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On. Complete with behind-the-scenes accounts, the book goes inside Sly's troubled psyche."

Under the Radar (Spring 2006), by Cory Frye -- "Everybody loves writing about Sly Stone. Griel Marcus did it best in Mystery Train, and Miles Marshall Lewis gives it a shot here, focusing on There's a Riot Goin' On, Sly and the Family's Stone's blue-ribbon masterpiece, and angry (and classic) avowal of the hippie virtues they'd previously cross-haired at the toppermost charts.

Lewis's study is straightforward, academic, and thoroughly researched. It's marred ever so slightly by a self-conscious tendency to occasionally dust a phrase with slang, as if to assure the reader Miles is smart and down; there's also a prelude of unnecessary fictional dialogue between father and son. But the rest is all biscuits for those of us who loved the man his mama called Sylvester. 8 blips out of 10


And there's an oddly dispiriting piece in the New York Times today by Janet Maslin - a joint review of our upcoming Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, and Jonathan Cott's recently released Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews. Maslin devotes far more time to Cott's book than to Gray's and concludes by saying, in effect, that we should let Bob speak for himself and trust in his version of the truth, as found in Chronicles. Hmmmm - not sure about that. Maslin also refers to Gray's entry on Jonathan Cott as "snarky", which I truly don't believe it is. Judge for yourself:

Cott, Jonathan [1942 - ]

Jonathan Cott was born in New York City on December 24, 1942, and lives there still. His books include Wandering Ghost: The Odyssey of Lafcadio Hearn, Conversations with Glenn Gould and, in fall 2005, the extraordinary On the Sea of Memory: A Journey from Forgetting to Remembering, prompted by what happened to Cott at the end of the 1990s, when, after electroshock treatments for severe clinical depression, he could remember nothing he had experienced between 1985 and 2000. The book combines autobiography with a scrutiny of ‘the mysteries of human memory’ and the roles played in our lives by both remembering and forgetting.

Cott first took an interest in Dylan when he saw him perform in a Greenwich Village cafe in 1963 and bought The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. His first published work about him was an article/review of Eat the Document in Rolling Stone in 1971. He has also written one book about him and edited another. The first, Dylan, mixing criticism with biography and collecting terrific photographs, is from 1985; the second, Dylan: The Essential Interviews, is from 2006.

In 1978 Cott interviews Dylan himself—on a bus from Portland, Maine, to the airport, on the plane to New Haven, CT, and in his dressing room at the Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum, on September 17, 1978. When he asks about the 1978 album Street Legal, a classic encounter between the interpreter and the artist ensues, as TERRY KELLY points up (albeit with a bad case of mixed metaphors): ‘Cott fires an arsenal of quotations and references he finds relevant to ‘‘Changing of the Guards’’ at a typically taciturn Dylan. The loquacious Cott builds up to a tidal wave of feverish explication, peppered with Tarot card references, songwriting sub-codes and . . . subconscious images. . . . He tells a still-silent Dylan that he believes each floor of ‘‘the palace of mirrors’’ contains another significant image or level of awareness. . . . After what seems like a lifetime of silence, Dylan eventually puts Cott out of his misery. ‘‘I think,’’ Dylan mumbles, ‘‘you might be in some areas I’m not too familiar with.’’’

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