Thursday, February 19, 2015

NYRB Letter

It seems unlikely that the New York Review of Books will run my recent letter to them, but here's the complete text:

To the Editors:

I'm probably not the only reader struck by Dan Chiasson's dismissal of Jerry Garcia as one of "the minor talents" Bob Dylan collaborated with and characteristically overestimated during the 1980s ("Prodigal Bob Dylan," NYR, Feb. 19, 2015). It's true that Dylan thought very highly of Garcia; this much is clear from his 1995 eulogy. It's also true that when they toured together, the Grateful Dead were thriving and Dylan was foundering. Although the resulting album was largely a Dylan production, he later admitted that the Dead understood his songs better than he did at the time. There's no disputing taste, but most critics see the Dylan-Garcia relationship as a case of mutual respect between major talents.

Peter Richardson
Department of Humanities
San Francisco State University

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