A Jew’s Blues: Mike Bloomfield

by Sparrow Discussed in this essay: Michael Bloomfield: The Rise and Fall of an American Guitar Hero by Ed Ward. Chicago Review Press, 2016, 224 pages.   IN THE 1960S musicians broke through the invisible barrier of the three-minute pop song. The single that did it, which rose to number 2, in fact, was Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling […]

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“The Russians Are Coming” and Other Poems

by Sparrow From our 2018 art calendar, dedicated to the theme of music   THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING The Russians are coming; the Russians are coming. They stole our election, and they are drumming. The Russians are drumming; the Russians are drumming. The president hears them, and he is humming. The president’s humming; the president’s humming. […]

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A New Socialism (Actually, Three New Socialisms)

by Sparrow   IN 1990, I visited the Soviet Union for three weeks. The cities were dilapidated; the clothing looked like bags. Yet workers promenaded down the street with a pride I’d never seen in a capitalist country. Ever since, I’ve been struggling with this question of how to create a socialist society that isn’t joyless. Last year […]

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Nu, Did He Deserve the Nobel Prize?

by Sparrow DOES THE WORLD need another essay about Dylan winning the Nobel Prize? Certainly not. In fact, most people have already forgotten about it. On the other hand, hundreds of thousands of Dylan fans will read this piece -– if they find it –- because they’ll read anything about Dylan. I know because I’m […]

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Dylan’s Sinatra Album

by Sparrow IT’S WAY PAST time for a defense of Bob Dylan’s most recent album, Shadows in the Night, which is a collection of songs originally recorded by Frank Sinatra, many of them rather obscure. No one I know likes the album, not even hard-core Dylan fans. Newsweek convened a panel of “dads,” guys in […]

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A Short History of Bazooka Joe Fortunes

by Sparrow BELATEDLY, BAZOOKA JOE comics are being recognized as bona fide American art. In case you’ve forgotten, or your father was a dentist, let me explain that Bazooka is a type of bubblegum that cost a penny in the 1950s and ’60s; each wad of gum was wrapped in a tiny comic strip, neatly […]

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“The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” Revisited

by Sparrow I LEARNED ABOUT BOB DYLAN from my mother. She’d started college at the age of 36 (I was 12), and heard young students playing “With God On Our Side” on guitar. Mom became an instant Dylan fan. Then the revolutionary “Like a Rolling Stone” arrived on Top 40 radio, and I was a […]

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