Actor André De Shields Channels Bob Dylan in a Dramatic Reading of Dylan’s The Philosophy of Modern Song

With a Musical Performance By Meshell Ndegeocello and Her Band

Monday, July 17 at 7:30 pm ET

Bob Dylan’s acclaimed The Philosophy of Modern Song takes center stage at 92NY’s Unterberg Poetry Center on Monday, July 17 at 7:30 pm when Tony Award-winning actor André De Shields visits to read from the book — in which Dylan riffs on 66 songs by other artists.

The dramatic reading will be interspersed with songs detailed in the book, performed by Grammy Award-winning musical artist Meshell Ndegeocello and her band. Michael Almereyda, film director and screenwriter, assembled the script for the performance, and he will direct it. Tickets (from $35) are available on 92NY’s website.

Bob Dylan’s Philosophy of Modern Song is a kaleidoscope, a hall of mirrors, a time-traveling flying saucer of a book—a series of rapturous essays tracking Dylan’s love of popular music and his poet-historian’s grip on its legends and lore. In it, Dylan riffs on the work of icons as dynamic and disparate as Ray Charles and Rodgers and Hart, Nina Simone and Warren Zevon, Lerner and Loewe and Cher, and The Temptations and The Who. His selections, which sweep from the 1940s to the 2000s, include Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas,” Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night,” among many others. 

“An inexplicable thing happens when words are set to music,” Dylan writes. “The combination becomes hypnotic, rhapsodic, somehow both mysterious and direct as a telegram.” 

The New York Times’ Dwight Garner wrote: “These riffs, which he flicks like tarot cards through a distant cactus, sound a lot like his own song lyrics, so much so that part of me wanted this to be a new record instead, wanted to hear these lines come croaking up from Dylan’s 81-year-old lungs and past his buckshot, barb-wired uvula.”

André De Shields, an actor, singer, dancer, director and choreographer, starred inHadestown and Death of a Salesman, among other critically-acclaimed Broadway shows. He also appeared in The Full Montyand The Wiz. De Shields won a 2019 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical, for his portrayal of Hermes inHadestown.  

Meshell Ndegocello’s music incorporates a wide range of influences and styles, including funk, soul, jazz, hip hop, reggae and rock. She has been nominated for eleven Grammy Awards, including the Grammy-wining (2021) Best R&B song “Better Than I Imagined.” She has collaborated on hit songs with Herbie Hancock, John Mellencamp and Chaka Khan, among many others, and her music has been featured in several movie soundtracks, including How Stella Got Her Groove BackBatman & Robin and Love & Basketball. Ndegeocello’s new album is The Omnichord Real Book.

About The 92nd Street Y, New York: The 92nd Street Y, New York (92NY) is a world-class center for the arts and innovation, a convener of ideas, and an incubator for creativity. Now celebrating its 150th  anniversary, 92NY offers extensive classes, courses and events online including live concerts, talks and master classes; fitness classes for all ages; 250+ art classes, and parenting workshops for new moms and dads. The 92nd Street Y, New York is transforming the way people share ideas and translate them into action all over the world. All of 92NY’s programming is built on a foundation of Jewish values, including the capacity of civil dialogue to change minds; the potential of education and the arts to change lives; and a commitment to welcoming and serving people of all ages, races, religions, and ethnicities. For more information, visit