IN HIS 81 YEARS, Bob Dylan has seemingly lived 100 lives. He conquered the world in the 1960s as a singer-songwriter who defied convention, going on to sell millions of records. He’s earned countless awards, including 10 Grammys, an Oscar, although he didn’t even attend the ceremony to accept it, and even the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. And music is only part of his story; Mr. Dylan has also become known among fans and collectors as an accomplished painter, and his 2004 book “Chronicles, Volume One,” an international bestseller, won the National Book Award.
Last month, he added a second book to the catalog. “The Philosophy of Modern Song” (Simon & Schuster) reads both as meditation and fever dream; it is a history lesson about (mostly) songs from the mid-20th Century, but also a rare glimpse into the fertile mind of one of the most creative people of the modern era.
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