Book #3- Million Dollar Bash by Sid Griffin

No I haven’t forgotten the blog. Yes, I have been engaged in one of the busiest, craziest weeks ever– more on that later. But I’m back with another book I managed to squeeze in (and I’m working on two more currently).

3. Million Dollar Bash by Sid Griffin

This book is a chronicle of Bob Dylan and the Band’s semi-famous Basement Tapes. The 1967 Tapes gave birth to rock bootlegs two years later, when after Dylan failed to release them, various and sundry underground characters did. In 1975, they were finally bestowed on the world, admitted with many of the best songs missing entirely and (in my opinion) with way too many solo performances by The Band. Some will contend that the Tapes gave birth to the alt.country genre which I love so well.

I don’t know. Personally, I think that like all things Dylan, people get the reality and the image intertwined and have trouble separating the two. Don’t get me wrong, the Basement Tapes aren’t bad– probably ranking around 8-15 in the list of best Dylan albums (and yes, I have made such a list). But out of the Basement has come a whole school of rock criticism that wants to pin the Declaration of Independence, the Mayflower, birth control. Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again, et al, etc. on The Basement Tapes. If you want that, check out “The Old, Weird America” by Greil Marcus. It’s alternatingly deeply interesting and like wading a written river of bullcrap. I’ve never read a book that tries so hard to know something, anything.

On the other hand, Sid Griffin mostly avoids the hyperbole and the cliches. He is more a technincal student, devoting a chapter on the equipment used to record The Basement Tapes. His analysis of the recordings themselves is very proficient, interesting and readable.

Basically, this book was much more enjoyable than the Marcus book. It does not try anywhere near as hard, and does not seek to unlock the meaning of American consciousness or anything, but it’s just a good thorough history of the musicians and the recordings. Honestly, if you’ve never heard the album (either the somewhat lame released 1975 version or one of the many still circulating bootleg versions with about 80 other songs and alternate performances), you won’t care. If you did, you might like it. Kind of like the way I feel about the Basement Tapes really.

Joe

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One Response to “Book #3- Million Dollar Bash by Sid Griffin”

  1. Amy Hilliard Says:

    “It’s alternatingly deeply interesting and like wading a written river of bullcrap.”

    Quite descriptive! Funny! 🙂

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