- Posted by Johanna on October 12, 2009 at 9:45 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews, KC
- PUBLISHER: W.W. Norton; $24.95 US
Review by KC Carlson
In Bob Dylan Revisited, a new oversized art book, 13 leading international illustrators present their interpretations of famous Bob Dylan lyrics, from throughout his 40-plus-year career as America’s leading troubadour and visionary.
Like Dylan’s songs, there are no explanations or introductions to guide your way, other than a literal reprinting of the actual song lyrics. Then, each of the artists take off into their own imaginations. Some are quite literal, like Gradimir Smudja’s raw interpretation of Hurricane, Dylan’s song of the trials of boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. Some are lyrical in print, like FranÃƒÂ§ois Avril’s cinematic Girl From the North Country. And some are just out there, like Dave McKean’s, which starts off as a reasonably literal depiction of Desolation Row and ends up in another place altogether — with a couple of interesting side trips, to boot.
Most of the pieces are sequential — not really surprising, as Dylan is a master storyteller himself. Dylan himself appears in a couple of the works, like Christopher’s 1960s love story of life and loss in NYC’s Greenwich Village in Positively 4th Street, and Zep’s wonderful interpretations of the man himself throughout his years and many reincarnations in his take on Not Dark Yet. Actually, each artist here takes a stab at interpreting Dylan himself in a fascinating series of illustrations that accompany the printed lyrics.
These artists are brave souls, putting down on paper or canvas their ideas of one of folk, rock, pop, country, and blues’ most frequently impenetrable chroniclers of life through song. Because of this, it’s a fair bet that many of their interpretations of these now-beloved songs won’t be the same as yours, which makes them all the braver. Still, like Dylan himself, it’s a fascinating journey.
Bob Dylan Revisited is due out November 16. A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.