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Counting Down Bob Dylan: His 100 Finest Songs [Hardcover]

Jim Beviglia
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 July 2013 Counting Down
Counting Down is a unique series of titles designed to select the best songs or musical works from major performance artists and composers in an age of design-your-own playlists. Contributors offer readers the reasons why some works stand out from others. It is the ideal companion for music lovers. For fifty years, Bob Dylan's music has been a source of wonder to his fans and endless fodder for analysis by music critics. In Counting Down Bob Dylan, rock journalist Jim Beviglia dares to rank these songs in descending order from Dylan's 100th best to his #1 song. Surveying the near six-decade career of this musical legend, Beviglia offers insightful analyses into the music and lyrics and dishes out important historical information and fascinating trivia to explain why these 100 rank among Dylan's best to date. At the same time, a portrait of the seemingly inscrutable Dylan emerges through the words of his finest songs, providing both the perfect introduction to his work and a comprehensive new take on this master of American songwriting. This work will appeal to the legions of Bob Dylan fans who have taken to analyzing his music. Unlike other Dylan books, which vary between the academic and the journalistic, Counting Down Bob Dylan uniquely renders Dylan's music approachable to new fans by highlighting the powerful emotional forces that fuel his dazzling lyrics.

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Counting Down Bob Dylan: His 100 Finest Songs + Time Out of Mind: The Lives of Bob Dylan + One More Night: Bob Dylan's Never Ending Tour
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Scarecrow Press; 1 edition (11 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810888238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810888234
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 581,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Counting Down Bob Dylan: His 100 Finest Songs is the first publication in a new series titled Counting Down that ranks and discusses the best songs by famous musicians. This foundational volume tackles the iconic Bob Dylan and his nearly 60-year career. Beviglia has scoured Dylan's catalog and has come up with not just a list, but an actual ranking of his best songs from 100 to 1. Unlike other 'best of' lists that can be found online by the hundreds, this publication provides its value in the analysis of each song. Counting Down Bob Dylan does not simply count down one person's opinion of Dylan's best songs, but provides a mini-essay for each song that includes interesting facts, historical information, and more. These mini-essays provide insight into the songs themselves as well as into Dylan as a figure. Beviglia obviously spent quite a bit of time researching these songs...Counting Down Bob Dylan is an entertaining and informational read. The text is very easy to follow and also includes an index and a short list of an additional 100 songs. This book could serve as a great introduction to those interested in Dylan or a great source of previously unknown trivia for Dylan fans. American Reference Books Annual From 'Roll on John,' off the 2012 album Tempest, to 'Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,' off the 1966 album Blonde on Blonde, Beviglia counts down what he deems to be the 100 best songs written and officially recorded by the legendary Bob Dylan. While necessarily subjective in his selection, he sought to separate songs from any personal relevance they may have for him and also considered such intangibles as cultural impact or staying power. For each song he includes a one-to-two page commentary, examining themes, lyrics, the role of the song in Dylan's career, and other such matters. At the end of the volume, he includes a list of the next 100 best songs of Dylan, sans any commentary. Book News, Inc. I had the opportunity to read the new book by Jim Beviglia called Counting Down Bob Dylan: His 100 Finest Songs and much to my surprise I enjoyed it. What I really liked about it was its format. Beviglia doesn't just do a random countdown of his favorite songs but he writes why he feels the way he does and includes some pretty in-depth stories and song break-downs to back up his explanations. Right away I realized that he researched the subject and is incredibly knowledgeable about music in general. Beviglia writes intelligently and that made this read extremely interesting. He understands music and it's lyrics like few writers I have read. He is able to state his feelings and passion in a way that anyone can understand. Even though I have never heard most of these songs, I am now curious to listen to many of them just to get a better feel for them. Time to get out the iTunes gift-card. ... If you love music you will enjoy how Beviglia breaks each song down by lyrics and the music itself. You will listen to Dylan tunes in a whole new way once you gain an understanding of the songs meanings or implied meanings in some cases. Many of the stories involve other bands and musicians such as The Beatles and Eric Clapton. I think because of that you will savor the book, weather you're a Dylan fan or not. The print version is a hardcover and it is also available for an e-reader. No matter what your taste in rock and roll or folk music Counting Down Bob Dylan: His 100 Finest Songs should prove to be an enjoyable read for all music lovers. I recommend this interesting and insightful book. Scared Stiff Reviews Jim Beviglia's Bob Dylan: His 100 Finest Songs is ideal, in the case of this title, for browsing and reading up on one's favorite tunes of this major American musician and poet. That Dylan has been accorded the latter distinction seems a foregone conclusion. This is a fun read for anyone who has been enthralled by the work of this popular music icon who has been entertaining global audiences for a half-century and is still going strong. The 100 are ranked in ascending order, beginning with 'Roll on John' in last place and honoring 'Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands' as #1. Each song is given two-pages of analysis, commentary, historical background, and justification of occupying a place in this honor role from the singer's oeuvre. A list of the next 100 finest, a bibliography, and an index conclude the volume. -- W. Royal Stokes Jazzhouse Diaries Maintaining that Dylan's music 'is more than a code that needs cracking,' Counting on Dylan repeatedly extols the pleasure principle - and some fans may say, And what's wrong with that? Without giving the game away, I can say that Dylan's material in the 1960s and 70s dominates the higher echelons of Beviglia's top ten and that the number one spot caused a critical spat between Michael Gray and Christopher Ricks. Get a copy of Counting Down Bob Dylan and reconnect with the simple pleasure from the great man's work. The Bridge Counting Down Bob Dylan: His 100 Finest Songs is a work that is bound to spur debate among the throng of the Dylan faithful, so much so that Jim Beviglia instinctively began to duck before the ink on his tome was dry...[It] is a captivating work for the casual observer, the 'Dylanologist,' and those filling all spaces in between. The tracks were chosen from the released catalog and not from unofficial 'bootleg' releases, and each song receives a concise essay. Like a miner seeking gold, Beviglia often strikes a vein of ore in affording proper justification for his picks in his summations. That is not to say that the list is definitive, or that all will nod in agreement with his choices. The charm in such a work is to set a foundation for discussion amongst the passionate. The work is designed to lead the reader into a comparison of his own opinions with those expressed by the author, and those of other fans. Live for Live Music (L4LM)

About the Author

Jim Beviglia writes for the print and online editions of American Songwriter magazine, concentrating on features about classic artists and reviews of new albums. Jim also maintains a blog as his alter ego, The Countdown Kid (http://countdownkid.wordpress.com/), where he counts down the best songs of rock 'n' roll's greatest artists.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Books about Bob 9 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bob Dylan’s renaissance as a creative artist over the past 20 years has led to a great many books being written about him. Jim Beviglia’s Counting Down Bob Dylan is one of the latest; it is also one of the very best. Some might be put off by the ’countdown’ element and might question if it’s necessary to rank Dylan’s songs in this way. However, I think Begvilia has chosen this method wisely (and most likely deliberately) in order to add an extra layer of stimulation to the process of reading the book: I found myself disagreeing with a number of his choices, which led me to consider the relative merits of certain songs against others, and gain some new personal insights.

As for Beviglia’s own insights: they are some of the most engaging and interesting pieces of writing I have read about Dylan, and he has that rare ability to keep things short, without losing depth or clarity. His knowledge of the songs is extensive but what comes through most clearly is his engagement with them – what he has learned about them by hearing, feeling and simply experiencing the songs of the greatest songwriter since Robert Burns. If you are a Bob Dylan fan, buy this book and enjoy the process of reading and arguing or agreeing with the decisions made. If you’re not a Dylan fan yet, this is a great place to start. Either way, Counting Down Bob Dylan is a wonderfully written , utterly engaging, and – most of all – incredibly enjoyable addition to the ever-expanding canon of books about Bob.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Baggy
Format:Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book .... in recent years I've given up on some of the more impressionistic tomes on Dylan's life, and also on the rather esoteric "fan experiences" works. This book gets back to what it is all about, the songs and the fun and magic in them.

Sometimes the magic is in the words, the music, the singing, the performance.... Jim's book takes a clear eye at Dylan's best songs (in his view!) and highlights the key aspects which bring us back to them. His list will provoke debate, as it has done on his Countdown Kid website, as to which songs should be in the list, which out, and which sit at the top of the rankings...but it is done with a light touch. For Dylan fans it is an easy and enjoyable read. Anyone who is getting the Complete Bob Dylan Box Set for Christmas would enjoy picking their way through this book.

nb I saw Bob Dylan at Blackpool Opera House two weeks ago, fantastic, so much charisma..this light still burns !!
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Format:Kindle Edition
I should start by saying I have not purchased this book. Feel free to mark me as unhelpful on those grounds. I have however purchased the same authors similar book on Radiohead and enjoyed it a lot. At around 2 it was a fair price.

This however is currently over 13 for a 220-odd page e-book. An absolutely bonkers price that the publisher should be ashamed off. (The price of the hardcover is pretty rum as well to be fair!)
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3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but frustrating! 7 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I loved the idea of the author picking his top 100 Bob Dylan songs and expounding on each one which he did in a most interesting way. Unfortunately, what I failed to anticipate when buying this book was the feeling of frustration at his choice.

Obviously the songs he picks are never going to agree with your own choices, except in part, so you do have to be aware that the very nature of this book will, in all probability, annoy you at times. It's human nature!

Having said that, I would recommend the way he puts across the virtues of each of his choices even if you don't agree with them. A good read!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun and detailed look at the catalogue of the poet with the guitar and harmonica! 30 Aug 2013
By G-Man - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book fits in a series by author Jim Beviglia, who has also written similar books reviewing the songs of Elvis Costello and Tom Petty. It counts down from #100 to #1, offering analysis of the lyrics and historical background of each song, which is identified by title and the album it appeared on. As a bonus, a list of the author's second 100 favorites, excluding analysis, is included. I am not a die hard Dylan fan (a Dylanologist, as the author calls them), but I enjoy enough of his music that I found this book to be very informative. I didn't agree with every one of the author's rankings or selections, but that's what makes it so much fun to read. Also, the commentary and historical background provided new information regarding these songs without being bogged down in too much minute detail. It made me take out my Dylan albums and listen to see if I agreed or disagreed with the author. For a music geek like me who usually reads the liner notes before listening to an album, this book was right up my alley. Maybe you won't agree with the author all the time, but how can you criticize a book that makes you want to listen to more music? Give it a read and you'll be pulling out your vinyl, cassettes and CDs to dive into the deep catalogue of the man with the guitar (acoustic and electric) and the harmonica. Great fun!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bantering About The Musical Bard 27 Jan 2014
By Bob Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
An artist such as Bob Dylan inspires impassioned debate and controversy. A book such as this fits Dylan fans like a glove. Although Beviglia makes fine choices and more than sufficient explanation, fans will enjoy comparing their top choices to his. There also is excellent commentary regarding the history of many of these tunes. Casual and serious Dylan fans will not be disappointed. Discussions among fans about the top choice alone is could lead to hours of conversation. And gems of insight and some little known facts about tracks are worth more than the price of admission.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bob Dylan His 100 Finest Songs Review 19 Jan 2014
By Gloria Keeley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Bob Dylan’s 100 Finest Songs
By Gloria Keeley

First off the author of “Counting Down BOB DYLAN His 100 Finest Songs”, Jim Beviglia has a real love of the word “titular”. One of the definitions of this word is: ...”denoting a person or thing from whom or which the name of an artistic work or similar is taken”... It’s a word that fits elegantly with the lyrics of Bob Dylan.

I read this book over a period of 3 nights, it is a captivating book. Each song that Jim Beviglia chooses gets the honor of a short essay. That’s one thing I love about this book, the synopses are short and clearly written. Make no mistake though, he delves deeply into Dylan’s lyrics. I can’t say that I agree with all of his choices but that’s the fun part of this book; you can agree or disagree and still find gems of analysis.

I love reading what other people see in Dylan’s lyrics. The thing about Jim’s book is that some of the songs he chose I didn’t pay much attention to when they were released. Two songs from Biograph had me listen more intently to the lyrics: Abandoned Love and Up To Me, both written during the “Blood On The Tracks” time frame. (see links below to hear these two songs).

My number one Dylan song would have been “Visions of Johanna”. When I saw that it wasn’t even number two I began to get hot under the collar. I skimmed down and saw that he’d put the song at number 13. I took a deep breath. Somehow that eradicated all of my anger, number 13 did, indeed, fit well with this song in a sort of twisted way. His analysis of the song was spot on and a great read.

I need to point out the exquisite humor of Jim. When describing “I Threw I All Away” he states: “The combination of sadness and guilt creates levels of pain that even a dentist couldn’t match.” It’s such a great description of the level of pain this song evokes. There are other instances of his humor that make this book a delightful read.

After realizing that Jim’s number one choice wasn’t “Visions of Johanna”, I took a look at what his choice was for that position. I smiled and said to myself, “Of course, this song is one of Dylan’s best, if not the best”. The song is a pure love song with imagery not matched by any of Dylan’s other songs. It’s long and dreamy-smooth and takes you into his soul to describe his admiration and love for one special person in his life. I’ll let you discover what that song is.

I highly recommend this book for any Dylan fan, diehard or new. There are new revelations for everyone. Get it, you won’t be sorry.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of great information 2 May 2014
By Forris B. Day - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am not a Dylan fan but received the book to review and much to my surprise I really enjoyed it. The stories were interesting and the concept of the book is cool. I know there could be hundreds of versions of the book with songs placed in a different order, but it is opinion and Beviglia backs up his reasons why he put the songs in the order that he did. A well thought out book that is worth a read even if you are not a fan of Dylan, and if you are then all the better. The book should create some great conversation for fans. I'm looking forward to his soon to be published Bruce Springsteen book.
4.0 out of 5 stars OK 12 Mar 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Those are his opinions are his own. We all have our favorites. Too many bootleg songs were picked but still a worthwhile read.
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