As Clinton Heylin points out in his introduction, Bob Dylan wrote his first 300 songs in the space of only 13 years, but it took him 33 years to write the next 300. And it is also the case that far more attention has been paid to those early songs than the one that followed,with many column inches of over-analysis spent on them. So it is great to have a book which which deals fully with the diverse and surprising songs written between 1974-2008, not only because critics up to now have dealt cursorily with them but because, as Heylin shows,so many are real gems.
This book brings out Heylin's strengths, which are that he is a researcher, with a real eye for detail, who finds out new things about Dylan's songs and how they were written (and rewritten!), recorded and transformed in live performance. The book is full of insightful details. On the other hand , it does display Heylin's weaknesses as a writer - particularly a clunky style and an urge to be judgemental when it come to Dylan the human being as opposed to the artist. That said, this is a really fascinating and much needed account of Bob Dylan's ability to continue to develop his art over the last four decades. Recommended.