Invisible Republic  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes, by Greil Marcus, is a book about the creation and cultural importance of The Basement Tapes, a series of recordings made by Bob Dylan in 1967 in collaboration with musicians who would subsequently be known as The Band. Published by Henry Holt, New York in 1997, ISBN 0-8050-5842-7. Subsequently published in paperback as The Old, Weird America by the same publisher in 2001.

The new title significantly derives from the name of one of the chapters in the book devoted to analysis of the Anthology of American Folk Music compiled by Harry Smith, reissued by Smithsonian Folkways on compact disc in the same year as the publication of Marcus's book, with portions of his book excerpted in the CD liner notes.

Marcus quotes Robbie Robertson’s memories of recording the Basement Tapes: “(Dylan) would pull these songs out of nowhere. We didn’t know if he wrote them or if he remembered them. When he sang them, you couldn’t tell.” He suggests that “these ghosts were not abstractions. As native sons and daughters they were a community. And they were once gathered in a single place: on the Anthology of American Folk Music, a work produced by a 29-year-old of no fixed address named Harry Smith.” Marcus argues Dylan’s basement songs were a resurrection of the spirit of Smith’s Anthology, originally published by Folkways Records in 1952, a collection of blues and country songs recorded in the 1920s and 1930s, which proved very influential in the folk music revival of the 1950s and the 1960s.

Marcus also links the First Great Awakening, the folk music revival of the 1950s, with Bob Dylan's 1966 tour with The Hawks aka The Band, the Civil Rights Movement, and the history of coal strikes in West Virginia.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Invisible Republic" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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