Bob Dylan: America’s Great One-Man Songbook

October 13, 2016 3:25 PM

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Bob Dylan: America’s Great One-Man Songbook

It’s not as if some new work suddenly clinched the deal. Mr. Dylan has been recognized by anyone who cares about words — not to mention music — since the 1960s, when he almost immediately earned an adjective as his own literary and musical school: Dylanesque. His most recent album of his own songs was “Tempest,” back in 2012; since then he has been paying tribute to the so-called Great American Songbook of pre-rock pop, like his album of Sinatra covers.

But there’s no question that Mr. Dylan has created a great American songbook of his own: an e pluribus unum of high-flown and down-home, narrative and imagistic, erudite and earthy, romantic and cutting, devout and iconoclastic, finger-pointing and oracular, personal and universal, compassionate and...

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