THE GHOST OF EDGAR ALLAN POE? – BOB DYLAN’S ‘THE PHILOSOPHY OF MODERN SONG’

Bob Dylan’s followers will already know that 1 November 2022 will see the publication of a brand new book from the songwriter’s hand (his third extended prose work), entitled ‘The Philosophy of Modern Song’. The pre-publication blurb at www.bobdylan.com calls the volume a ‘momentous artistic achievement’, offering a ‘master class on the art and craft of songwriting’ and featuring in-depth analyses of over 60 songs by the likes of Stephen Foster, Hank Williams, Nina Simone, Elvis Costello and many more.

Even before seeing the book, a thought occurs to me about the title. Bob Dylan is known to be an admirer of the work of Edgar Allan Poe (even naming him on his most recent album, 2020’s ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’) – in the corpus of whose essays may be found the titles ‘Philosophy of Furniture’, from 1840 and, famously and from 1846, ‘The Philosophy of Composition’, Poe’s oft-cited account of how he wrote his best-known poem, ‘The Raven’.

Could Dylan’s arresting title (‘philosophy’ might seem a surprising lexical choice for a book on song) be a conscious harkback to Edgar Allan Poe? More will be revealed in November!

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