It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Thinking). The 16 essays by different writers in this book take Dylan and his music as starting points, and travel in many interesting directions. Chapter titles hint at those directions: The Morality of Bootlegging Bob, To Live Outside The Law: Freedom in Dylan, Bob Dylan's Truth, Just Like a Woman: Bob Dylan & The Second Sex, Busy Being Born Again, What Sort of Artist is Bob Dylan. Discography included.
The troubador who has given English more phrases than any poet since Shakespeare has also warned us that "Counterfeit philosophies have polluted all of your thoughts." So here’s the genuine article: pure philosophy applied to the provocative, mercurial thoughts of Bob Dylan.
If a killer is only a pawn in their game, is he relieved of all moral responsibility? If to live outside the law you must be honest, is freedom more of a burden than conformity? Is it morally defensible to bootleg Dylan recordings?
As well as scrutinizing such philosophical issues raised by Dylan’s poetry, Bob Dylan and Philosophy also probes some puzzles about Dylan’s own life and ideas. Has Dylan’s thinking moved from Enlightenment social protest to postmodernist paralysis? Was Dylan’s born-again experience a break or a continuation in his vision of the world? And who is Dylan when he doesn’t have his Bob Dylan mask on for Halloween?
"Sometimes a song is just a song. Sometimes it’s a vision of life. Read this book. Do think twice, it’s all right."
—Alan Cheuse, author of Listening to the Page
"Dylan’s work persistently re-examines some of the oldest and newest philosophical questions. The authors of this book do not treat him as a mysterious fount of wisdom but as a participant in a philosophical colloquy ranging across space and time. They respect him as an artist and address his work with the knowledge and rigor it deserves."
—Mike Marqusee, author of Wicked Messenger: Bob Dylan and the 1960s