The great jazz musician Louis Armstrong once said that there are only two types of music, good music and bad music. The music we hear in our teen years tends to linger most profoundly throughout our lives and defines what good music is for many. In a new book by Bob Dylan, America’s greatest songwriter of the last half of the 20th century, “The Philosophy of Modern Song,” offers the reader a master class on the art and craft of songwriting. Dylan is in his 80s now, and although he writes about the allure and the magic of music that he listened to in his bedroom as a teenager, he has much more than just music on his mind as his writing reveals.

Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016 “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” His songs, with lyrics that incorporated a broad range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, became anthems for the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, so he knows of what he writes.

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