Category Archives: Bob Dylan

Small Town Talk


Small Town Talk
By Barney Hoskyns
Faber & Faber – £20.00

Let’s face it, it’s almost impossible to think of Woodstock without thinking of one of two things – Bob Dylan and/or the Woodstock Festival.

With the exception of Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and The Who’s performances (stunning, terrific all three), the latter has never really held much fascination for me – let alone any inspired sway. Regardless of the fact that the Woodstock Festival was responsible for having triggered many a menagerie of (oft dodgy) festivals in its wake.

In my book, Woodstock quintessentially means one thing, and one thing only: Bob Dylan. Admittedly, replete with a tremendous trajectory of varying off-shoots such as The Band, Van Morrison and Graham Parker to name but three.
Yet, Woodstock still remains Dylan, who, as the one thing/person/artist/whatever, has ceaselessly peaked my interest in the area – which in turn, drew me to Barney Hoskyns’ Small Town Talk.

That Hoskyns is a terrific writer, who has perhaps written the finest ever book on Tom Waits, Lowside Of The Road: A Life Of Tom Waits, further qualifies as a prime reason to read what is, a most colourful read.

From ‘Folk Songs of the Catskills’ to ‘Hundred-and-Forty Dollar Bash,’ to ‘Some Way Out of Here’ to ‘The Ballad of Todd and Albert,’ these eleven chapters (excluding a List of Illustrations, Prologue, Epilogue. Coda, a more than interesting section entitled ‘Take Your Pleasure: Twenty-Five Timeless Tracks, Acknowledgements, Bibliography, Notes and Index) are a superlative traipse through the endearingly rich tapestry of everything Woodstock has come to represent.

But if it’s a fix of Dylan you’re after, look no further than the fifth chapter, ‘Boy in the Bubble’ (among others), where, in relation to that most feisty of Dylan compadres, Bobby Neuwirth alone, Hoskyns informatively writes: ””It was a synergistic relationship. Dylan was not exactly a chameleon, but there was a number of people that he drew from.” Dylan himself would compare Neuwirth to Neal Cassady, the inspiration for Dean Moriarty in Kerouac’s On The Road, writing in Chronicles that ”you had to brace yourself when you talked to him” and that he ”ripped and slashed and could make anybody uneasy […].” ”I could never figure out whether it was Dylan who’d copped Neuwirth’s style or vice versa,” wrote Al Aronowitz, one of their many victims. But Al Kooper, who go to know the duo the following year, was convinced that ”Neuwirth was actually the personality: he was the creator of the image and Dylan just jumped on it.”

That said, there really is, and perhaps clearly is, a whole lot more to Woodstock than that of the most brazen Bard of Minnesota; as is somewhat swiftly pointed out by Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue in the book’s Prologue (which benefits from the most Van Morrison of influenced titles, ‘Into The Mystic’): ”Woodstock has a way of down-shifting you from high gears into neutral. It’s not a coincidence that it is a strange attractor for the Tibetans and the Zen people. The Buddhists would have a word for ‘neutral’ – the void. All of that is there, from ages earlier than Dylan. I don’t want to get too mystical about it, but there’s more to Woodstock than it being a cute little town in the mountains where Bob had a place and some funny things happened to The Band on the way to the Forum. It is that place, at least to me – the creeks and the winding roads and the pitch-black nights – but all of that is on the inside. It’s the mountains of the minds.”

”The mountains of the mind,” now there’s a thought!

Throughout Small Town Talk, Hoskyns does indeed recreate Woodstock’s confined community of (sometimes rather brilliant) dysfunctional musicians, opportunistic hippie capitalists, scheming wheeler-dealers and erstwhile freaks; all of whom are unsurprisingly dazed and intermittently confused by their own difficult quest for spiritual truth.

So naturally, depending on point of view, this is a book that is idiosyncratic and informative in equal measure. Entertaining too.

David Marx

Dylan’s Vision of Sin


Dylan’s Vision of Sin
By Christopher Ricks
Canongate – £14.99

”It ain’t the melodies that’re important, it’s the words.”

Who else but Bob Dylan could profess to such an execution of open and honest thinking? Funny thing is though, Dylan’s melodies are in many instances, as equally memorable and powerful as his words.

Alas, to each his own, but whenever I hear the opening chords to say ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ or ‘Hurricane’ or any number of his songs, I am immediately transported unto another place before Dylan even popens his mouth. Might this be because I know what’s coming? Or might this be because of the sheer finesse and briliance of his musicality?

Either way, it just is; but betwixt said uncertainty/curiosity, there does lurk a hunger to delve ever further. That is, to investigate the initial kernel of what may have sparked whatever song it is I am listening to; which, given Dylan’s colossal catalogue, is no mean feat.

This may go someway into explaining why there are so many Bob Dylan books available. Books about Dylan himself, if not certain aspects of his nigh unstoppable writing. Books about his time spent in New York City, if not his religious endeavours.

In this instance, we have Christopher Ricks’s Dylan’s Vision of Sin, which, to all intents and poetic purposes, may be more justified than others. Depending on your point of view. According to The Sunday Times’ Bryan Appleyard: ”Everything Ricks has to say about Dylan is original. He is a critic who seems to be talking to you from within the work. He can turn the smallest niche in a poem into a vast cathedral of resonance and implication.”

”A vast cathedral of resonance and implication,” now there’s a description. Although this reviewer cannot help but agree with him!

Compartmenalized into three distinct sections (‘The Sins,’ The Virtues’ and ‘The Heavenly Graces’), each of this book’s sixteen chapters will make most followers of Dylan sit-up, read ever further and take note. Even if just momentarily. Even if they don’t agree. A facet of writing, which to my mind at least, can only be a good thing: ”[…] rhyme is itself one of the forms that metaphor may take, since rhyme is a perception of agreement and disagreement, of similitude and dissimilitude. Simultaneously, a spark. Long, long ago, Aristotle said in the Poetics that the greatest thing by far is to be master of metaphor, for it is upon our being able to learn from the perception of similitude and dissimilitude that human learning of all kinds depends. One form that mastery of metaphor may take is mastery of rhyme.”

This in itself, shows a quintessential depth of analysis that’ll no doubt trigger many a Dylan head into revisiting many a track of the artist’s work. One of the prime reasons being, much of the analysis herein comes from a whole different angle; which, apart from anything else, suggests a certain credo that is and remains refreshing to say the very least: ”I think it’s true that women in Dylan’s vicinity sometimes have as their mission being rhymed into submission, but that isn’t battering, it’s bantering. Still, the rhyming can be fierce. Take the force of the couplet in ‘Idiot Wind,’ ”Blowing like a circle round my skull/From the Grand Coulee Dam to the Capitol.””

Dylan’s Vision of Sin is a wonderfully written, inspired and more than compelling read. In the words of The Guardian’s Andrew Motion: ”The rewards are just as one would expect: a bracing attention to artfulness, a wonderful sensitivity to nuance, and a particularly brilliant sympathy with the purpose and effect of Dylan’s rhymes.”

David Marx

Dylan Goes Electric


Dylan Goes Electric
Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties
By Elijah Wald
Dey St/Harper Collins – £16.99

          […] an early theorist of what would become known as multiculturalism, the           ideal of the melting pot was virtuously egalitarian but in practice meant                 boiling the distinctive qualities of myriad ethnic cultures down ”into a                     tasteless, colourless fluid of uniformity… the American culture of the cheap           newspaper, the movies, the popular song, the ubiquitous automobile.” Or,            most obviously in the early 1960s, television, where colournessness and                  uniformity were explicitly enforced by blacklisting and racial segregation.

         Sometimes he lapses into a scrawny Presleyan growl, and at its very best,                his voice sounds as if it were drifting over the walls of a tuberculosis                        sanitarium – but that’s part of the charm.

Indeed, it is part of the charm; but with the appalling terrorist attack which took place in Paris on Friday evening – that has since been rightly reverberating around the entire planet – it could well be argued that we need the gut-wrenchingly, honest, humanistic lyrical likes of Bob Dylan now, more than we ever have. As not from the likes of Sam Smith, Taylor Swift or literally anyone else, are we ever going to hear such prophetic words as: ”If God’s on our side, he’ll stop the next war.”

If, he’s on our side, that is.

But futile murder and mayhem aside, here’s another idiosyncratically interesting book on Dylan called Dylan Goes Electric, which traverses the many trajectorial arguments of his infamous first electric performance at the Newport Folk Festival on July 25,1965.

The key word here is of course, ”Folk,” although with the benefit of informative hindsight and this meticulously well researched, altogether marvelous book, the words brave and innovative suffice equally as well.

For instance, in the book’s Introduction, author Elijah Wald immediately states his case by writing: ”Dylan at Newport is remembered as a pioneering artist defying the rules and damn the consequences. Supporters of new musical trends ever since – punk, rap, hip-hop, electronica – have compared their critics to the dull folkies who didn’t understand the times were a-changing, and a complex choice by a complex artist in a complex time became a parable: the prophet of the new era going his own way despite the jeering rejection of his old fans.”

That the Wald writes with such an incisive, yet relative ease so very early on, wholeheartedly invites the reader to delve ever deeper, ever further; replete with inadvertent haste.

Or perhaps that should read, inadvertent pace?

”He challenged the establishment: ”Something is happening here, and you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?” He defined his own transformation: I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” He drew a line between himself and those who tried to claim him: ”I try my best to be just like I am, but everybody wants me to be just like them.” And he warned those wary of following new paths: ”He not busy being born is busy dying.”

Lest it be said, Wald has throughout these 309 pages (excluding Notes and Bibliography), clearly written on and about a subject he loves and adores.

In fact, amid parts of the book’s third chapter, ‘New York Town,’ he goes so far as to semi-dissect said era, by way of what folk music actually meant to Bob Dylan, as well as the day and the book’s other prime protagonist, Pete Seeger: ”For Dylan, as for Pete Seeger, the attraction of folk music was that it was steeped in reality, in history, in profound experiences, ancient myths, and enduring dreams. It was not a particular sound or genre; it was a way of understanding the world and rooting the present in the past. As he later reflected, thinking back on that time: ”Folk songs were the way I explored the universe, they were pictures and the pictures were worth more than anything I could say… It wasn’t that I was anti-popular culture or anything… I just thought of mainstream culture as lame as hell and a big trick… What I was into was the traditional stuff with a capital T and it was as far away from the mondo-teeno scene as you could get.”

The latter in particular, exponentially explains why Dylan went on to strike such a colossal difference with so many people, not to mention segments of society. And why he went on to ”play all the folk songs with a rock’n’roll attitude.”

When you (honestly) think about it, it’s probably why you’re reading this here review.

If there’s any criticism to be made of these eleven fine chapters, it’s that there may in parts, be a little too much written about Pete Seeger (page 121 especially). Yet, with the overall feel of Dylan Goes Electric draped in a writing that can only be described as overtly and musically political, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dylan himself weren’t a tad reflective upon perhaps reading parts of the book – the following in particular:

”The festival programme was not simply a Machiavellian gambit in a Dylan-centric chess game, but Peter Yarrow notes that ”there was a camaraderie and even a complicity of sorts between Robert Shelton and Albert Grossman,” and in this period the writer felt personally responsible for much of Dylan’s success and embraced the singer’s work as a vessel for his own aesthetic and professional missions. He was a committed crusader for authentic folk music and progressive politics, and Dylan exemplified both. Like Guthrie, Dylan was a personification of progressive traditionalism, a popular wordsmith whose songs outshone his personal charisma and whose rough voice and neo-ethnic style would inevitably limit his appeal and keep him out of the pop mainstream.”

David Marx

Bob Dylan New York


Bob Dylan New York
By June Skinner Sawyers
Roaring Forties Press- $14.95  £10.99

‘’New York in the early 1960s was perched on the precipice of change, moving from one era – the supposed ‘’innocence’’ of the Eisenhower years – to another – the dynamic but short-lived excitement of the Kennedy years. Indeed, the relatively short span between Eisenhower’s election in 1952 and the arrival of the Beatles in America in 1964 ushered in a decade or so of social change that shook American society to its very core on many levels: politically, socially, and economically. From peaceful civil rights demonstrations in the streets to racially tinged riots, the 1960s started with a gentle whimper and ended with an explosive bang.’’

Equally perched upon a wave of (said) unstoppable, almost miasmic, social-sea of change, was Bob Dylan’s arrival in New York City during the winter of 1961. It proved to be as musically and as socially explosive, as that of the decade itself. And to say he nurtured, bequeathed, radicalised and embraced the city with as much guts and gusto as just one singer-songwriter was capable, might be considered something of a discerning understatement.

The mere fact there’s a book dedicated to this very subject alone, underlines the unquestionable value and idiosyncratic importance that such an understatement might bestow.

Furthermore, this (partially) explains why it might be a good idea to read and fully contemplate June Skinner Sawyers’ Bob Dylan New York, wherein chapter eight’s ‘Thief of Thoughts,’ she reiterates the simple fact that: ‘’Dylan could have reinvented himself anywhere. But he didn’t go just anywhere. He went somewhere. He deliberately chose New York because New York, more than any other city or town, was his point of reference while growing up in Minnesota […]. ‘’There was nowhere else he could have gone to become Bob Dylan,’’ echoes music critic Anthony DeCurtis. ‘’It is hard to imagine where else he could have gone given what his aspirations were.’’’’

Even the word ‘aspirations,’ is a little lightweight, especially given the profound effect that both the city and the artist were to eventually have on one another. As such, it’s quite surprising that a book on the subject of Dylan and New York wasn’t written years ago; so all the more reason to embrace this one.

As a regular columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Sawyers is evidently just as much a Dylan fan as she is a formidable student. Both aspects of which are liberally peppered throughout what can only be described as yet another inviting and interesting book on the greatest songwriter this side of Lennon and McCartney.

David Marx

The Lives of Bob Dylan


Once Upon A Time – The Lives Of Bob Dylan
By Ian Bell
Mainstream Publishing – £20.00

I’ve read and reviewed a number of books on Bob Dylan, and what I really like about Ian Bell’s Once Upon A Time – The Lives of Bob Dylan is its non-sycophantic, yet exceedingly well versed and highly researched, kick-in-the-bollocks analysis.

In other words, the author isn’t afraid of coming clean where perhaps his subject might. That’s not to say Dylan has anything to hide – far from it. For if any sublime artist, and there aren’t many, has had their entire adult/working life devoured every which way, it’s surely Sir Bob. With the possible exceptions of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and The Beatles, surely no one has ever been so scrutinized, so analysed (and some might say patronised); so questioned, so discussed; so second (not to mention third, fourth and fifth) guessed as yer man Bob.

Yet still the books keep coming.

Still the hyper-evaluation is wrought with an individualistic need to be heard, read, developed and believed – depending on viewpoint and of course, fandom. Which, on far too many an occasion, is surely way too dressed up and random to be taken seriously – although such is most definitely not the case here.

Bell is obviously a fan. But he’s also a critic, and an excellent one at that. In the chapter ‘I Think I’ll Call It America’ for instance, he scathingly examines one of Dylan’s most semi-cryptic and controversial songs ever written, ‘Ballad In Plain D.’ And he does so in such an astute way, that it leaves many of his peers both vacuously pontificating as well as aimlessly wandering around in the gutless wilderness: ‘’Suze Rotolo believed it too. Though she could no longer tolerate the man, she did not once question his genius. That was no doubt part of the intractable problem. Fame, the cult of ‘Bob Dylan,’ was destroying their relationship as surely as his near-addiction to infidelity. All that remained was to put this love affair out of its misery. Dylan, deservedly, lost his self-respect in the process. The final scenes were ugly. They earned a song that was uglier still, cheap, nasty – you could call this poetry’s revenge – an abysmal piece of self-indulgence.’’

Where else might you stumble across, let alone read, such caustic, controversial criticism – especially at this late stage in Dylan’s career? Not many places I’d have thought.

Three paragraphs on (among others), the author continues along the same theme – only from Dylan’s perspective – substantiates his penchant for considered argument: ‘’Two decades later he had the good grace to regret ‘Ballad In Plain D,’ telling Bill Flanagan, ‘I look back and say ‘’I must have been a real schmuck to write that.’’ I look back at that particular one and say, of all the songs I’ve written, maybe I could have left that alone.’’

Throughout Once Upon A Time, Bell illuminates an area of the Minnesota Bard’s work, persona and mindset, that is of an entirely different persuasion than most. Thus ensuring its 563 pages are as much an enjoyable read, as they are both enlightening and refreshing

Earlier in the book, the writer effortlessly sheds his own take on Dylan the carefree, idiosyncratic, psychological tough-nut. He, who if Bell is to be believed, doesn’t really have a fleeting care in the world: ‘’To this day there is something dreamlike about his long career. He likes (or needs) to be elusive, but that fact doesn’t explain much. Wounded former friends, dropped like litter down the years, tend not to offer glowing character references. They say – and they have been saying it since the early 1960s – that he doesn’t give a damn. That doesn’t seem relevant either. If artists were to be disqualified from the cultural steeplechase on the grounds of obnoxious behaviour, few would make the starting line. That’s probably why nature’s groupies advance the faintly preposterous idea that a true creator is obliged – the Rimbaud thing again – to be a cold-hearted son of a bitch. Geniuses: what can you do?’’

Indeed, what can you do? Can’t live without ‘em, but at least we don’t have to live with ‘em. Instead, we can take and we can glean arbitrarily, at will, at any time of day or night. We can merely dip into whatever it is we want from our self-chosen geniuses – and let’s not mistake ourselves here, Dylan is a genius in every possible connotation of the word – without having to take any egotistical, excess, gobshite like behaviour along the way. We are forever entitled to thoroughly wallow within the pristine, beauty (of the poetry and the melody) of say ‘Tangled Up In Blue,’ without having to resort to any form of sacrosanct, artistic wank or ransom.

It’s ours, whenever we want: for all the taking, all the healing, all the enjoying, all the whatever.

If however, you want to delve behind the veil and find out more behind what makes someone like Bob Dylan tick, then this is most definitely a book you should consider purchasing. You absolutely won’t regret it.

David Marx

Bob Dylan – The Stories Behind The Songs 1962-1969

Bob Dylan 1962-1969

Bob Dylan –
The Stories Behind The Songs 1962-1969
By Andy Gill
Carlton Books – £9.99

No matter how much one reads on Bob Dylan, be it about the man himself, his extraordinary catalogue of work, or a fraught, critical assimilation of the two, it’s almost impossible to arrive at a satisfactory, let alone cathartic conclusion. There’s always so much more to invariably stumble upon and as such, ultimately discover within the truly idiosyncratic thesis of the Dylan mind.

Indeed, the world according to Bob Dylan is so vast and so colourful and so strewn with mayhem and madness, it’s night impossible to get a grip. The all
illusive answers are perhaps, blowing in the wind after all. Just like William Shakespeare before him (again, both the man and the myth), Dylan too, has comparable tomb of work that is riddled with more speculation than one can possibly contend with. But unlike William the Wordsmith, Dylan is still very much alive and kicking and touring and answerable to no one. Which may partially explain why he still chooses to bestow the world with such elongated conjecture.

Never confirming or conforming – denying or admitting.

Hence the sheer number of books written about him, of which Andy Gill’s Bob Dylan – The Stories Behind The Songs 1962-1969 is an acutely important one. Reason being, it’s short, it’s to the point but more importantly, it doesn’t ramble unto a plateau of fog induced, philosophical meandering (like so many I’ve read). It is what it is – a book which ‘’examines the stories behind every Dylan song on the following albums: Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin’, Another Side of Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde On Blonde, The Basement Tapes, John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline.’’

In a way, it’s a Dylan dictionary of songs in chronological album order, unto which the reader can briefly indulge by way of succinct analysis and clarification – which at the end of the day, is all we sometimes ever want (and need).

Homing in on one of Dylan’s most celebrated periods, the recording of Blonde On Blonde, the author writes: ‘’Given the lyrical malleability […], it’s perhaps best not to try and ascribe too literal an interpretation to ‘Visions Of Joanna,’ which is more of an impressionistic mood anyway. If it doesn’t really matter to the writer whether it’s the peddler or the fiddler who speaks to the countess, why should it matter to us? The song remains one of the high points of Dylan’s canon, particularly favoured among hardcore Dylanophiles, possibly because it so perfectly sustains its position on the cusp of poetic semantics, forever teetering on the brink of lucidity, yet remaining impervious to strict decipherment.’’

To substantiate the aforementioned point about conjecture, even here, Gill aligns himself with the shimmering supposition to that of his subject; for which the latter is renowned and the former (and perhaps by default, us) could be considered none the wiser. Even though the author pertains to set the record straight by then writing: ‘’For a long time, the song went under the working title of ‘Seems Like A Freeze-Out’ (a term meaning to ‘’stand-off’’), which evokes something of the air of nocturnal suspension in which the verse tableaux are sketched. They’re full of whispering and muttering, low-volume radio, echoes and ghosts, a misty, crepuscular netherworld by the increasingly familiar denizens of Dylan’s imagination, a parade of lowlifes, functionaries, all-night girls and slumming snobs.’’

If nothing else, Bob Dylan – Stories Behind the Songs 1962-1969 is an enlightening, as well as an entertaining read; which, given the brevity, the depth, and the importance of the subject matter, makes it a worthy addition to anyone’s (Dylan) library.

David Marx

The Gospel According To Bob Dylan – The Old, Old Story For Modern Times

The Gospel According to Bob Dylan
The Old, Old Story for Modern Times
By Michael J. Gilmour
Westminster John Knox Press – $15.00

In the ‘Concluding Thoughts’ of The Gospel According to Bob Dylan – The Old, Old Story of Modern Times, author Michael J. Gilmour writes: ‘’When we hear a song for the first time, it matters whether we are in love at that moment or broken-hearted, spiritually hungry or indifferent to matters of faith, looking to be entertained or forced to think, angry at the world or motivated to make it a better place – all such contexts and a thousand others determine our experience of songs and perception of meaning in the sounds and words we encounter.’’

Thoroughly spot on writing methinks, as the context through which we initially hear and experience music, is invariably crucial to our eventual understanding and (hopefully) ever-lasting appreciation of it. Thus, inadvertently explaining why a great deal of modern music is transiently considered powerful, when more often than not, it really, really isn’t. The Kooks, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and to a by far more disturbing degree, Take That, are all quintessential albeit moot instances.

Pop music, for all intents of a business like refrain, doesn’t need to be good anymore, in order to be considered remotely resolute or tribally dysfunctional. It can, and quite often is, complete and utter tone-deaf-wank-shite – of which there are several hundred thousand million examples, the two most crucial of which, surely have to be Cheryl Cole and Justin Sparkpants or whatever his name happens to be.

For amid the pristine essence of musical truth, he or she who is actually doing the singing makes absolutely no difference whatsoever. Especially when said singing is anchored to that of a cunning concoction of youth’n’yesteryear. Those lurky, murky, happy days, when we were all teenagers in love. And if not in love, then on the prowl and on the nickel.

When the gospel according to arrogance and hormones reigned supreme.

Just as there was never, ever a stasis st(r)ained time, when all things weren’t open to such quintessential conjecture, so too does the same ring true for a thorough understanding of Bob Dylan. To complicate matters further, as a result of the twentieth-century bard-cum-minstrel-cum-soothsayer-ad-infinitum having turned seventy this year, a deluge of books have hit the streets.

Each purporting to be in the know.
Each purporting to be telling it as it is.

What accounts for The Gospel According To Bob Dylan being a little different, and therefore, a tad more inviting to read than most, is the preface upon which it has been written. But even here, as Dylan makes clear and as Gilmour himself acknowledges, ‘tis all conjecture: ‘’‘’I’m not good at defining things,’’ he told Robert Hilburn in a 2004 interview […]. Musicians function as mediums, priests, stained-glass windows, or icons, pointing beyond themselves to something far bigger, but they cannot define that vague something for the listener.’’

It’s this vagueness, with which Bobheads and curious readers the entire world over, have always had to grapple, and eventually come to terms with.

Furthermore, the degree to which the ‘V’ word is vexed or volatile, vacant or viable, remains firmly entrenched within in the eye of the ever gullible, the well-read or the simply couldn’t care less. In the chapter ‘Are You Serious,’ Gilmour writes: ‘’Bob Dylan’s music moves many listeners out of themselves, out of their ‘’habitual, common-sense world.’’

Are we, upon reading The Gospel According to Bob Dylan, any closer to understanding Dylan’s dense, oft misunderstood, varying religious complexities? A whole lot depends on the degree to which one is prepared to take Gilmour, by way of literary default, at his word.

David Marx