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Professor Brancato Authors Book Chapter on Bob Dylan

Jim Brancato was a disinterested teenager when Bob Dylan’s 15th studio album, Blood on the Tracks, was released in 1975.

Profeesor jim Brabcato“It took me a while to get into Dylan. Like a lot of people, I couldn’t get past that voice,” said Brancato, a communication professor at Cedar Crest College. “Blood on the Tracks got me into him. It was the classic breakup album about divorce and heartbreak, and he could express certain emotions better because he didn’t have a classic voice.”

Brancato has been a huge Dylan fan for more than three decades now. His admiration of the man many consider the greatest singer/songwriter of the 20th century is one reason why he has designed and taught courses about Sixties music and culture over the years, and written a chapter in the recently released book, Dylan at Play, a compilation of researched essays about Dylan’s work edited by Nick Smart and Nina Goss. Brancato’s chapter is titled, “Dylan Acts His Age.”

“I’m really happy to get to write for this book. At first I was interested in writing about Dylan in terms of his persona as someone critical of contemporary materialist values, who in recent years has been involved in some interesting marketing techniques utilizing viral marketing and social media,” said Brancato. “Eventually, I decided to write about Dylan’s transformation from a young man who equated youth with wisdom, to a sort of curmudgeon who seems to reject anything modern.”

In “Dylan Acts His Age,” Brancato notes how Dylan’s classic albums from the 1960s—from Bringing It All Back Home to Blonde on Blonde—are the only albums on which Dylan integrates newer musical forms into his work with any real gusto. For the most part, Dylan tends to circle back to his blues, country and folk music roots, clinging to tradition much like the “older than 30” crowd he poked fun at as a young musician. Many of his lyrics also harken for a simpler time. It’s a far cry from the sentiments expressed in the Dylan 1964 classic, “The Times They Are a Changin’.”

Brancato is currently teaching students about Dylan’s early years as a singer/songwriter and his relationship with arguably the most popular rock band of all time—The Beatles—in the course, “Bob Dylan and The Beatles in the Sixties.”

“The course is one of my favorite classes this semester. The class discussions are always interesting and engaging,” said junior communication major Sarah Pilkington. “Before the start of the semester I did not know much about the Beatles and even less about Bob Dylan but I have really enjoyed learning more about them and their music. I also really like learning about the history and the events in the 1960s that led the Beatles and Dylan to write the songs they did.”

To order a copy of Dylan at Play, go to www.c-s-p.org//ordering.htm, or amazon.com.