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Bob Dylan to publish first book of new writing since 2004

"The Philosophy of Modern Song," which hits shelves in November, is a collection of essays about other artists' songs.

Cover of book: "The Philosophy of Modern Song" by Bob Dylan, with black and white photo of three young musicians smiling.
"The Philosophy of Modern Song," a collection of essays by Bob Dylan, will be published on Nov. 8, 2022.
Contributed / Simon and Schuster
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NEW YORK — Simon & Schuster has announced the forthcoming publication of a new book by Bob Dylan. "The Philosophy of Modern Song," a collection of essays about other artists' songs, is Dylan's first book of new writing since his 2004 memoir, "Chronicles: Volume One."

According to the publisher , Dylan has been at work on the book since 2010. Promotional copy promises "a master class on the art and craft of songwriting. (Dylan) writes over 60 essays focusing on songs by other artists, spanning from Stephen Foster to Elvis Costello, and in between ranging from Hank Williams to Nina Simone. He analyzes what he calls the trap of easy rhymes, breaks down how the addition of a single syllable can diminish a song, and even explains how bluegrass relates to heavy metal."

The 352-page book, which will also include 150 "carefully curated photos," hits shelves Nov. 8. Any new book from Dylan is a major event: No other popular musician has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, which Dylan won in 2016. Upon its release, his memoir was lauded as an instant classic. (Fans are still waiting for a "Volume Two," and it's unclear whether such a book will ever materialize.)

Dylan was born in Duluth in 1941 and grew up in Hibbing before making his way to Minneapolis, where he briefly attended the University of Minnesota before heading east to launch his professional music career in New York. The author offers Minnesota fans another local connection on the book cover, which features a 1957 photograph of rockers Little Richard, Alis Lesley and Eddie Cochran on tour in Sydney, Australia. Cochran, a rockabilly pioneer best known for 1958's "Summertime Blues," hailed from Albert Lea, Minnesota.

The inclusion of Lesley is also intriguing: Though she's now less well-known than the men flanking her, she enjoyed a brief period of renown as "the female Elvis Presley." Together, the trio represent Dylan's wide-ranging interests in rock and its roots, which he's previously revealed through projects like his "Theme Time Radio Hour" satellite show (2006-09).

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Now 80 years old, Dylan remains active in recording and touring — not to mention other enterprises like whiskey making and book writing. In 2020, he released his 39th studio album, the well-reviewed "Rough and Rowdy Ways." Since the 1980s, Dylan's toured so constantly that fans have described him as being on a "Never Ending Tour"; he's on the road right now, with a show Thursday night in Irving, Texas.

The author's formative literary experiences came during his youth, he said during his Nobel Lecture , delivered in recorded form in 2017.

"I had principles and sensibilities and an informed view of the world," he said. "And I had had that for a while. Learned it all in grammar school. 'Don Quixote,' 'Ivanhoe,' 'Robinson Crusoe,' 'Gulliver’s Travels,' 'Tale of Two Cities,' all the rest — typical grammar school reading that gave you a way of looking at life, an understanding of human nature, and a standard to measure things by. I took all that with me when I started composing lyrics."

Related Topics: BOOKSBOB DYLANMUSIC
Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in February 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can reach him at jgabler@duluthnews.com or 218-279-5536.
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