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Music: “Like a Rolling Stone” by Greil Marcus


Songs bring different flashbacks and memories to different individuals. Songs sometimes keep history, which reflects the events or activities that took place during the song’s composition. Moreover, songs reflect and forecast personal, cultural, political, and communal memories, usually with significant events or occurrences. Like a rolling stone is a six and half-minute rock and roll song by Bob Dylan. The song is very significant as it changed rock music. The author of the book, Like a rolling stone, Greil Marcus, describes the song composition by Bob Dylan and interprets it. Furthermore, the interpretation reflects the general status of personal and the country’s experiences during the song’s composition by Bob Dylan. This paper will highlight the cultural changes and memories, coupled with discussing the controversy about the song’s interpretation.

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The book by Marcus is an outstanding piece due to its uniqueness to capture just a single song into a full 260-page book. The song by Bob Dylan contains a biography of how it was composed. The song remains musically, culturally, and historically influential, and thus it has not faded since 1965. Marcus shows how deep the song is rooted diversely in the American times of cultural impacts. Moreover, the song is unique since it involved different artists with comedians, which culminated in cultural diversity in the song’s composition. The song challenges the listener, as it is disruptive and restless to the ears, for it needs full attention in a bid to get the embedded message.

Marcus shows how the song demands a transformed or a changed American lifestyle. According to Marcus, the description of the song’s words illustrates the fall from grace to grass. The song has remained significantly unshakable and highly revolutionary in rock music due to the diversified culture involved in the song’s composition. Marcus illustrates how heroic status affects the cultural society in the then American visionary comedians and artists.

According to Marcus, the song was recorded when the American popular rock musical atmosphere resembled the then American ‘running elections.’ For instance, Marcus uses the metaphor of a girl who once used to live expensively, but all of a sudden, she falls from that glory. Dylan’s music culminates in conflicting interpretations, but Marcus strategically portrays how the song implicates the corrupt United States.

The burning issues that Marcus tries to implicate that dominated American society were racism, the Vietnam War, and drug abuse. Marcus brilliantly shows how the US struggled to penetrate the social-cultural norms of American society in order to bring a brighter future in the living lifestyles of the general community. Through the imaginary lyrics of a young socialite girl, Marcus tries to show how the American popular historic political history whereby Robert Johnson and the popular Hank Williams brought a change in the general cultural change in the American idol musical context.

Through his metaphors explanation, Marcus shows the great impact that Dylan left in the development of rock music. This hit song would be played in every nightclub in the popular United States. Marcus argues that the musical intonations, tonal changes, and the song composition strategy were special, thus capturing historical details in just six minutes, which no other musician would be capable of doing. For instance, Marcus portrays the magnificent imaginary that socialite girl Dylan tries to create to the audience as it leaves a ‘running memory’ of the entire song’s context. Furthermore, the poetic mix with rock and roll musical instrumentals, which significantly brings out the song’s context in the then growing American rock music.

According to Marcus, Dylan’s change in the style of music, from folk and blues to rock and roll, was a cultural change from the then Americans’ music norms. Dylan brought a great change to the popular hip-hop musical style that all other artists embraced the change that Dylan’s rock and roll music made in American music history. Specifically, Marcus’ deep understanding of the American culture gives the significance of eye-opening meaning in the song’s context to the Americans’ musical history and culture. The song context on the young popular girl who falls short of prosperity glory generally portrays the American culture of placing trust in power and authority commands.

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The song’s length indicates the long time that the American culture took in the musical revolutionary, which Marcus cites as strange musical revolutionary. Ultimately, the general song interpretation that Marcus brings out is the American popular musical culture change coupled with how a single moment can change the audience’s life like that of the young socialite girl’s life descriptions. Moreover, Marcus shows how the song culminated in the origin and growth of the rock and roll music through the tedious lyrical recordings and the song’s concerts in the US.


Marcus shows the cultural change of the general American history of power. For instance, he shows how the corrupted and conflicted American society by then tried to dominate the world. Through the song’s lyrical descriptions, Marcus describes the tedious song’s composition coupled with how the American society needed a general life perspective change. For instance, the song was recorded when the Americans experienced the significant effects of the Vietnam War, rearing drug abuse cases, and the popular selfish American leadership.

Throughout the book, Marcus tries to show how the American musical culture, with the general societal leadership, needed influential change like that of like a rolling stone. Marcus appreciates the significant musical change that Dylan brought to the music industry at a time when the American artists were stuck in the usual monotonous way of blues and folk music composition. The song remains outstanding even to date, and the atmosphere of the band composition still exists in the rock musical concerts. Moreover, the female and male tonal changes with different instrumental chords that Dylan used remain the rock and roll musical, cultural deviation from the norms.

Through the song’s description process, Marcus shows the dominant American cultural beliefs and the music industry. Through the mix of different artists and comedians that the song brought together, Marcus shows the cultural diversity and effects that the song left to American society. The young socialite girl, who falls short of the usual class and popularity, portrays the effects that the American leaders had on societal perspectives. The societal perspectives focused on the dominance kind of ‘dictatorship’ to the less powerful American and African civilians. Ultimately, Marcus tries to portray the selfish and reliance behavior that the society would have on the popular American leaders of the time.

The book, Like a rolling stone, explains the cultural changes in the American musical world together with the societal behavioral change. The ultimate goal by Marcus is to capture the American culture on different life issues’ perspectives that come with the musical world. Dylan made a great impact on music history, which explains the development and the origin of the rock and roll music from the then boring and monotonous blues and folk music genres. In addition, the song reflects the American political atmosphere on Vietnam’s friction amongst the Americans. This description by Marcus helps in tracing the musical developments of the rock and roll music.

Moreover, the metaphors and imagery used in the song help to bring out the real American society, coupled with how cultural change would culminate in a better world for the Americans to live in. The differences in artists’ backgrounds and the mix of male and female bring out the cultural change that was involved in the song’s composition. The rock and roll band structure, instrumentals, arrangements, and musical style are unique following the release of the song. This aspect marked the revolutionary cultural changes of the musical intonations, chords, back up, and the general instrumentals involved in the making of any rock song to date.


The book reminds the readers about certain events and practices that persisted or occurred in the US in the 1960s. Songs are one of the best sources of historical events in any country since music artists capture striking events. The book clearly defines the musical environment and the American cultural changes that took place during the 1960s when the song was composed. The song left a great change to the musical world of rock and roll, which entails uniquely made features from other music genres. Its historic developments come with the American changes that affected American society.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, January 18). Music: “Like a Rolling Stone” by Greil Marcus. Retrieved from


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