About BOB DYLAN: Prophet, Mystic, Poet
You will never hear Bob Dylan the same way again after reading BOB DYLAN: Prophet, Mystic, Poet by Seth Rogovoy.
For the first time in a full-length book, BOB DYLAN: Prophet, Mystic, Poet exposes the deep and profound Jewish context and roots of the artist’s life and songs. From his childhood as the son of parents who were central figures in the Jewish community of the small mining town of Hibbing, Minnesota, through his career as a songwriter and performer drawing heavily on the Bible, Kabbalah, and the Jewish prophetic tradition for his imagery, subject matter, and narrative approach, to his lifelong devotion to Israel and Orthodox Judaism, Bob Dylan has always kept his connection to Judaism close at hand.
From his earliest novelty number, “Talkin’ Hava Negilah Blues,” through the central imagery of “Blowin’ in the Wind,” borrowed wholesale from the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, to the midrashic retelling of the binding of Isaac in “Highway 61 Revisited,” from the Hebraic cantillation of “One More Cup of Coffee” through the strong, personal identification with Jewish nationhood in “Neighborhood Bully” to the mystical themes informing “Everything Is Broken,” Bob Dylan has always been a poet engaged with Jewish themes and scripture.
BOB DYLAN: Prophet, Mystic, Poet digs deep into “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window” and discovers a retelling of the sexy story of King David. “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” takes its title from the mystical translation of the name of the Lord and its metaphors from the book of Daniel. The album New Morning is revealed to be a restatement in poetry song of the daily traditional Jewish liturgy, while Dylan’s acceptance speech for his Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences was a paraphrase of psalm 27, recited daily during the period of repentance surrounding the Days of Awe, the holiest time of the Jewish year.
Upon close examination, even the songs on Bob Dylan’s so-called born-again albums are revealed to be told from the point of view of one committed to the original covenant between God and the Jewish people.
It’s no wonder that Rabbi Alan Berg, a lifelong student of Bob Dylan who has sermonized about Dylan as a Jewish prophet for years from pulpits across the nation, says that BOB DYLAN: Prophet, Mystic, Poet “stands with Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed and Greil Marcus’s Shape of Things to Come … in the clarity of the author’s vision.”