….It’s almost like I heard it as a voice. It wasn’t like it was even me thinking it… I’m determined to stand, whether God will deliver me or not…
Although Bob Dylan’s music of the 1960s and 70s was highly acclaimed and vastly influential, by the mid 1980s his creativity had dipped so low that he was seriously thinking of retiring. Yet from the late ‘90s onwards he began to produce work that was comparable in quality to that of his heyday. The action in these extraordinary songs appears to take place in an indeterminate historical period, sometime between the American Civil War and the present day; in a mythic landscape of noisy, smoky honky tonks and juke joints; haunted by the ghosts of the great blues and country music legends, along with various long-lost crooners and torch singers. The songs reference a vast number of literary texts, ranging from Ancient Greek epics and the King James Bible to Shakespeare, the Romantic and Symbolist poets. They tell the story of Dylan’s personal battle to reclaim contact with his poetic muse.
In Determined to Stand Chris Gregory traces the way in which Dylan, by focusing on his roots in folk, blues, country and gospel music, was able to reinvent his art and his persona from the 1990s onward to create a new and unique body of work. The book is an in depth study of Bob Dylan’s songs from 1997’s Time Out of Mind to 2020’s Rough and Rowdy Ways. It also focuses on the crucial role that the live performances on Dylan’s Never Ending Tour (1988 to the present) played in his battle to find ways of remaining creative despite the onset of ageing.