By Tony Attwood
Because this is a book review of a book I have not read.
Now although confessing to not having read a book one is reviewing might be a little unusual, this approach to reviewing in itself may not be that unknown in the annals of reviewing. Indeed I am pretty sure that 95% of the reviews of books I’ve written were written by people who had read the press release, and the back cover, and then cut and pasted what they found. And one can understand this. I mean, who’s got time to read books these days?
But, I must add, I have an excuse in not reading Jochen’s book. Because Jochen Markhorst, who has contributed so many brilliant reviews of Dylan songs on this site, has written his book in Dutch. Largely because he is Dutch. Which I guess is an excuse of some sort.
The volume, “The Basement Tapes” contains 32 in depth reviews, analyses and reflections on songs selected from the full collection, along with eight essays on the background to the songs and the impact of the recordings.
The reviews include the songs you might expect to see reviewed, such as “Quinn The Eskimo”, “I Shall be Released”, “I’m Not There” and “Sign On The Cross” and so forth. But then there are also reviews of some of the lesser known and lesser reported works such as, “Baby Won’t You Be My Baby”, “Dress It Up, Better Have It All” and “All You Have To Do Is Dream”.
Now if you are a regular here you will know the fresh, unconventional light that Jochen sheds on all the reviews he undertakes, and the fact is that most of the essays included in The Basement Tapes. Dylans zomer van 1967 have not been published in Dutch before, nor in English on Untold Dylan, for that matter.
So if you do have the language – or if you have an uncle or second cousin who can do the translation for you, this will be worth reading.
And here are the publishing details…
- Jochen Markhorst – The Basement Tapes, Dylans zomer van 1967
- Publisher: Brave New Books
- isbn: 9789402199444
- Price € 20.00
- Pages: 215
But if for some reason (and I can’t imagine what it is) your Dutch is perhaps not quite up to the mark, and you are waiting for that refresher course in the language to begin next week, then in the meanwhile here is a bit of Jochen on the Basement Tapes. In English.
- Sign on the Cross, the words mean nothing
- Quinn the Eskimo: one semitone is all it takes.
- Wild Wolf: lyrics bemusing, darkness, nothing, darkness
- Dylan’s Apple Suckling Tree: let’s finish off the basement tapes
- Tears of Rage: more pain than anyone should have to take
And here’s a final point. Being English, I don’t speak foreign languages. It is not something that an English gentleman does. Except that for reasons that will not become clear at this point, I do know a spot of French and do on occasion use it along with a lot of arm-waving and the use of occasional English words thrown in, in the vague hope that the French word I seek at that particular moment might be similar.
But by and large, most of the time I do speak English, and I have to say I have been knocked out to have the chance to publish some of Jochen’s work in English on this site. If you can’t read Dutch do go and have a look at a few of those reviews in English linked above, if you have not read them before. It really will be time extraordinarily well spent.