Today, Greil Marcus officially launches Letter in the Ether, the new venue for his writing, hosted at Substack. Among the regular features to be included: Real Life Rock Top 10 (which, following a one-year hiatus, returns tomorrow, Dec. 1); Ask Greil (a continuation of the conversations begun here); plus, in Greil’s own words, “pieces uncollected in my own books that to me still have life and are still seeking an audience. There will be whatever comes to mind that seems to deserve the light of day.”
Both free and paid subscriptions to Letter in the Ether are available (paying subscribers will receive exclusive content); please join Greil in this exciting new chapter showcasing his work, both old and new.
How do I sign up? Or is this my sign-up? And did I use the hyphen correctly?
To sign up, just press subscribe on the substack site–there will be many opportunities to do so. (I tend to over-hyphenate myself, but you can go either way.)
Reading the chapter “Ain’t Talking” in your recent book, Folk Music, digs up uncomfortable feelings about Mr. Dylan as a songwriter. The line “Walkin’ with a toothache in my heel” was beyond descriptive making the reader or listener feel what that felt like. Agree it’s one of the strongest lines in the song; that is until you realize Dylan didn’t write it. When something is original, it allows people to reflect on and appreciate the creative process. “Modern Times” is riddled with borrowing but apparently Mr. Dylan believes if you’re not stealing you’re not trying hard enough. Once again your book reminds the reader of “The Lifter’s Escape.”
But I think songwriters who come out of the folk song tradition do this a lot because the songs they’ve immersed themselves in is literally built on this kind of “borrowing.” (I do agree that slapping a copyright on songs that were originally in the public domain is a more fraught issue.)
…ARE literally built…
If she were alive today, I wonder how Memphis Minnie would respond to her song “ The Levee’s Gonna Break”? Respect the creative process.