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Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan Vol. 2 1974-2008
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2012
Clinton Heylin of course divides his readers into 2 camps; for and against, just as Heylin himself clearly cannot abide Michael Gray or Greil Marcus. I like opinionated writers-provided of course that their views are not too diametrically opposed to my own!!!- and I am in sympathy with most of Heylin's views although I would agree with another reviewer on here who feels that he is too dismissive about the post 1997 albums which I like particularly, albeit less so regarding "Together through life" The book is full of fascinating information. I found his referencing of biblical texts in relation to the songs very interesting, as I had been under the impression that Dylan's christianity somehow petered out in the 1990s. This is clearly not the case. Heylin's comments on the "Under the red sky" album are also extremely revealing, and shed a whole new light on this neglected and depreciated work. The book is also generally very well proof read and so lacks that typical curse of the "modern" book, endless spelling mistakes etc... Highly recommende
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 29 August 2010
Having read Volume 1 - Revolution in the air, I knew pretty much what to expect. Mr Heylin's slightly eccentric, very assured style with his opinions stated at every opportunity, leaving very little room for any else's. However, as a reference work this book is indespensible, a must for the shelf of every true Dylan afficionado. The research and detail included is sometimes overwhelming and I know that having read the book from cover to cover, I will return to return to it many times in future to look up this or that. On the whole a good addition to the long list of Dylan books, a lot of which are not worth the paper they are written on, but this one certainly is.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 April 2012
A great piece of research and a brilliant companion to the music itself. Clinton Heylin is opinionated, and this tends to divide readers, but there's no doubting how perceptive his writing is here. It's great to see the "difficult" 80s work getting as much scrutiny as the songs from the "classic era". Heylin brings it all into sharp focus and - best of all - makes you want to hear all of these songs again.
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on 28 August 2014
Whilst discussing the out- take version of "Someday Baby" which appears on Tell Tale Signs- The Bootleg Series Volume 8
Mr. Heylin quotes Dylan as singing " every day I'm coming home with a different grip"
It is only my opinion but does he not actually say "I'm becoming more of a hypocrite" ?
It is this kind of cloth eared lack of attention which, married to a seeming inability to relate to Dylan's oevre on an emotional and MUSICAL level- not to mention a pompous and cringeworthy literary style which really baffles me about (as he may say himself) Ol' Clint.
In the first volume of Behind The Shades he actually criticised Dylan for (I paraphrase from memory) "Not realising that nerves can't be simultaneously vacant AND numb" whilst discussing/ dismissing Not Dark Yet. At that precise moment of reading I knew I would never be able to get on with him despite his obvious depth of knowlege on the subject. I can only assume that he also knows the sun's not yellow- it's chicken!
I noticed that particular example of foisting his own rather narrow minded opinion on his readership had been excised from Take Two...maybe he would consider doing the same with the monumentally conceited device of inserting himself into Dylan's psyche at the end of that tome, whilst generally trashing whatever Dylan has done in the last twenty years.
I'm sorry this is more about Mr. Heylin than the book in question and I am guilty of the same crime of which I accuse him but he seems so frigid and unmusical and impervious to the sheer grit and soul and whatever it is in Bob Dylan's art that I have to put the book down after a few pages before I throw it through the nearest window...it is just so dry and reductive and obnoxious. And how I have tried!
Lord knows how the relentlessly self publicising and snobbish Heylin got the gig writing the text for the accompanying book in The Complete Album collection...I always got the impression he didn't even like Bob Dylan all that much!
I'm sure he's a lovely man but I just can't get a "grip" on his style
Try Paul Williams or Michael Grey for two eminently more readable commentators who can at least quote the lyrics correctly
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on 30 November 2011
A great piece of research and a brilliant companion to the music itself. Clinton Heylin is opinionated, and this tends to divide readers, but there's no doubting how perceptive his writing is here. It's great to see the "difficult" 80s work getting as much scrutiny as the songs from the "classic era". Heylin brings it all into sharp focus and - best of all - makes you want to hear all of these songs again.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
If you are into Dylan this is a must, with background to so many songs, including out and out failures. There is no shortage of opinion, some of it negative and controversial, but it served to make this reader reconsider long held opinions. The relationship with Daniel Lanois is chronicled in detail and puts Oh Mercy in an entirely new light for me. Perhaps of most interest are the songs that did not make the CDs which are discussed in detail, and a copy of Tell Tale Signs is an essential companion to the book. All in all it is a great read for all Dylan fans.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Clinton Heylin is the Marmite of Dylan authors but he is also one of the most steeped in all things Zimmerman. In some ways this lends a faux academic tone to this book. In other ways it stops Heylin seeing the wood for the trees.

Others have commented on Heylin's assured style - he isn't a natural writer by any means and for one who so often comments on the quality or otherwise of Dylan's lyrics, especially when there was the inevitable revision, he is clunky. This is particularly noticeable when Heylin inserts words into Dylan's lyrics as if it is his job to ensure they are comprehensible. This is not only arrogant but unnecessary. If Helin were quoting a Dylan speech then adding a helpful word or two in parentheses is fine. Try it with, for instance, Shakespeare and it becomes clear that this approach is redundant. Dylan's lyrics can stand for themselves and if Dylan didn't put the extra word in it was for a reason, good or bad.

The second flaw I feel with this book comes towards the end, the last few albums released before publication. This is the plagiarism aspect in Dylan's work. In fact, he has been reworking and reusing quotes and phrases in his lyrics since at least the md-80s. Without necessarily defending the practice, it is something that many poets, songwriters, musicians, artists over the centuries. Having said that, I can think of at least two reasons why Dylan does it. One is to create a game for people like Heylin to play: what obscure poet can I quote this time... The second is to provide a launchpad for new writing. There are many examples of songs that grew from the inspiration of a phrase, heard or read. And Dylan has been part of that venerable tradition since he began writing songs. Heylin, I suspect but cannot prove, has probably never written a song in his life.

The final flaw is the lack of comments about the music. Yes, Dylan is very literary, very verbal and one of the few rock songwriters whose words do work on the page, but his medium is song and, like Clue, the words and the music do belong together. Dylan is not sophisticated musically but he has written some exquisite melodies: Every Grain Of Sand sings to mind. To fail to mention the music is to miss a large part of the story.

Yes, the book is fascinating in parts, infuriating in others and flawed, it is also worth buying. It sent me back to listening to some Dylan songs I hadn't bothered with in a while, mostly to see if I agreed with Heylin. Sometimes I didn't but with this book you are entitled to his opinion.
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on 12 September 2014
Excellent.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2011
Heylin's 2nd volume on Dylan's songs is a fascinating read, but it is not comprehensive -- it somehow omits the album and songs of "Down In The Groove"! It is as if Heylin had a massive amnesia attack in the middle of writing. Yes, it is not a major work, but I'm shocked that a mistake of that magnitude could happen!

If he fixes this for the paperback edition, buy that instead. And if not... somebody needs to e-mail the author and the publisher.
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