Bob Dylan Recruits Jeff Bridges, Helen Mirren and More Actors to Narrate Upcoming Audiobook

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Bob Dylan has enlisted a collection of Hollywood actors as the star narrators of the audiobook version of his upcoming book “The Philosophy of Modern Song,” out Nov. 8.

Dylan’s audiobook is currently starring Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi, John Goodman, Oscar Isaac, Helen Mirren, Rita Moreno, Sissy Spacek, Alfre Woodard, Jeffrey Wright, and Renée Zellweger.

Along with Dylan doing some of the reading himself, the audio version will include each actor taking parts from his book, a collection of essays nearly 66 songs Dylan considers some of the greatest examples of songwriting and will include an evaluation of classic songs written by everyone from Willie Nelson, Little Richard, Nina Simone, Jimmy Reed, The Grateful Dead, The Clash, Elvis Costello, and Townes van Zandt, and more.

“The Philosophy of Modern Song” includes Dylan’s take on songs like Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up,” The Clash hit “London Calling,” “My Generation” by The Who, and more, in addition to some unexpected picks, including Rosemary Clooney’s “Come On-a My House,” The Eagles’ “Witchy Woman,” and Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.” 

The book also features songs made popular by Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, and Frank Sinatra, along with the oldest song featured—Stephen Foster’s “Nelly Was a Lady,” which was written in 1849. 

The most modern song that Dylan picks apart in the book is “Dirty Life and Times” by the late Warren Zevon, off his 12th and final album The Wild, which was released two weeks before his death in 2003.

Dylan, who won the Nobel Prize For Literature for his lyrics in 2016, started working on “The Philosophy of Modern Song” in 2010, compiling his own critiques of a collection of songs.

“‘The Philosophy Of Modern Song’ contains much of what [Dylan] has learned about his craft in all those years, and like everything that [he] does, it is a momentous artistic achievement,” read a descriptor of the book by publisher Simon & Schuster. “He analyzes what he calls the trap of easy rhymes, breaks down how the addition of a single syllable can diminish a song and even explains how bluegrass relates to heavy metal,” and continued that the essays were “mysterious and mercurial, poignant and profound, and often laugh-out-loud funny. … And while they are ostensibly about music, they are really meditations and reflections on the human condition.”

Photo: Gus Stewart/Redferns via Getty Images

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