Skip to content

Bob Dylan’s “Tarantula,” as read by actor Will Patton

    The music of Bob Dylan has always been poetic. Bob dabbed in actual poetry with his infamous 1971 Tarantula book of prose. Critics did not respond in kind throughout the years.

    Tarantula is more of a tribute to Arthur Rimbaud’s prose style. Will Patton breathes new life into this body of work as he reads the lesser-known work of Bob Dylan.

    Never before on audio! Music legend Bob Dylan’s only work of fiction—a combination of stream-of-consciousness prose, lyrics, and poetry that illuminates the creative process of one of the most influential musicians and songwriters of our time—finally comes to audio in a magnificent performance by award-winning narrator Will Patton!

    In 2003, Spin magazine did an article called the “Top Five Unintelligible Sentences from Books Written by Rock Stars.” Dylan came in first place with this line from Tarantula: “Now’s not the time to get silly, so wear your big boots and jump on the garbage clowns.”

    For the most part, critics and reviewers have always stigmatized Bob Dylan as a lousy poet, advising the public to buy his music instead. When his book Tarantula was published by Macmillan in 1971, the reaction was predictable and has been ever since–keeping in league with what is expected from that failed-artist class bent on bashing the bards they secretly aspire to be, but can’t, for lack of imagination.

    Village Voice critic Robert Christgau called Tarantula an unsatisfying and aimless throwback to Dylan’s 1960s writings, and Dylan himself would say the book was his manager’s idea, although it still has a cult following.

    The audio of “Tarantula” comes out on December 3.

    Tony M.