“Entertaining, intelligent, and surprisingly accessible” – Library Journal

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Library Journal

Bob Dylan’s lyrics have been dissected and analyzed in a host of recent works, but Rogovoy (The Essential Klezmer: A Music Lover’s Guide to Jewish Roots and Soul Music, from the Old World to the Jazz Age to the Downtown Avant-Garde) offers an original perspective in this welcome addition.

He explores the influence of the Bible, the Talmud, and the Kabbalah on Dylan’s songwriting, uncovering references to these texts in each of Dylan’s 33 studio albums, up through 2009’s Together Through Life.

Rogovoy’s research adds fresh insight into iconic songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” and “Forever Young,” providing a deeper understanding of Dylan’s Jewish influences.

Chronological album-by-album and song-by-song analyses make up the book’s core, and Rogovoy gives just enough biographical context to argue convincingly that Judaism strongly influences Dylan’s life and lyrics.

VERDICT Entertaining, intelligent, and surprisingly accessible, this book complements Michael J. Gilmour’s Tangled Up in the Bible and Christopher Ricks’s Dylan’s Visions of Sin.

Highly recommended to all music scholars and Dylan aficionados.—Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia