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The Dylanologists: Adventures in the Land of Bob
 
 

The Dylanologists: Adventures in the Land of Bob [Kindle Edition]

David Kinney
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Review

"The Dylanologists" is a wonderful book well written, insightful, and smartly reported. In chronicling Bob Dylan s fans, David Kinney provides a clear-eyed portrait of the artist and the country that created him. --Jonathan Eig "author of Luckiest Man "

Product Description

FAN: “You don’t know who I am, but I know who you are.”

BOB DYLAN: “Let’s keep it that way.”

Bob Dylan is the most influential songwriter of our time and, after a half century, he remains a cultural touchstone, an enigma, and the subject of endless fascination. From the moment he arrived on the music scene, he attracted an intensely fanatical cult following, and in The Dylanologists, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist David Kinney ventures deep into this eccentric subculture to answer a question: What can Dylan’s grip on his most enthusiastic listeners tell us about his towering place in American culture?

Kinney introduces us to a vibrant underground: diggers searching for unheard tapes and lost manuscripts, researchers obsessing over the facts of Dylan’s life and career, writers working to decode unyieldingly mysterious songs, road warriors who meticulously record and dissect every concert. It’s an affectionate mania, but as far as Dylan is concerned, a mania nonetheless. Over the years, the intensely private and fiercely combative musician has been frightened, annoyed, and perplexed by fans who try to peel back his layers. He has made at least one thing crystal clear: He does not wish to be known.

The story of Dylan’s followers is also a revealing portrait of the artist himself. Here, reflected in the fans he inspired and the cultural movements he helped create, is every twist and turn in a career that has swerved from lefty activist to ultra-hip spokesman for a generation to woodsy recluse, from secular storyteller to fire-breathing Christian evangelist, from punch line to elder statesman. Dylan may refuse to explain himself to his followers, but their lives have become mirrors of his, so profoundly are their stories intertwined.

Told with tremendous insight, intelligence, and warmth, by turns funny and affecting, The Dylanologists is ultimately a book about our universal quest for meaning. It is populated by characters both legendary and obscure, from aging hippies to idealistic twentysomethings and everyone in between—a young woman who, stirred by Dylan, attends law school and becomes a public defender; a man who crams his New York City apartment with memorabilia, transforming it into a pilgrimage spot for Dylan fanatics; a woman inspired by her hero’s redemptive music to go clean after years of drug use. Here is a joyous, soulful, and poignant exploration of the origins and meaning of fandom, the healing power of art, and the importance of embracing what moves you, whatever that may be.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1840 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (13 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DPMHQ52
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #181,962 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another hagiography 6 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Only 3 chapters in, and already I feel I'm drowning in hyperbole; 'A figure of extraordinary literary merit' who should be regarded as one regards 'Shakespeare, Homer and Mozart'; really? Too often, the Dylanologists of whom Kinney writes, are those who 'Don't get it.' A fine and original idea for a book has become merely another hagiography, and rather more than a little ridiculous.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dylanologists 25 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great book if this is your interest. Read many books on the man but this really is something different. Arrived in good time from this seller who I have used before and would use again. Highly recommended.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very good read. Some unusual things about Dylan I didn`t know
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 14 Aug 2014
Format:Hardcover
Great insight into bob, s fans
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Completely Unique Dylan Book 20 May 2014
By Bornintime - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I've read about 60 books on Bob Dylan in the past 3+ decades. You see I have been stricken with a mild case of the disease that the subjects of this book suffer from (not that mild I suppose since I have a couple/few hundred Dylan discs in my house). I've gotten better in the sense that I have little desire to read more books about Bob. Most books about Dylan fall into a couple categories - either a biography (read Heylin's updated Behind The Shades and be done with bios) or else some author's tedious explanation of what they think the songs mean or how good the shows are. Who cares? Everyone brings their own interpretation to the songs and your view is just as good as Greil Marcus's. Except yours might actually be somewhat based on reality.

But this book is different. It talks about the fringe followers - the people who obsess over Bob - who love him, love his work, buy every album and bootleg, follow him on tour, stalk him, collect windows from his boyhood home, possess screws from a Big Pink piano. It is so refreshing to read about real people with real experiences rather than rehashed biographical data and opinions. People who have actually met the man or who live for the next show or cd release. What is interesting to me is how the reader, if he is a Dylan fan, will automatically compare their own suspect behavior to the people in this book. I find myself thinking things like: "Yeah, I've done that" or "I wish I did that" or " That may have been a little much - but I kind of understand".

The author said somewhere that he could have made this book 1000 pages. The biggest compliment I can pay him is to say that I wish that he did.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This land was Bob land..... 22 May 2014
By Gail Ofterdinger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
As a preteen when Dylan achieved his first commercial successes, I, too, fell under the spell of his lyrics and recordings. It was intriguing to read of his literary influences and the meaning behind the meaning of some of his texts. I had little knowledge of his not-so-poor background (his mother owned a fur coat?)from an upstate Minnesota town. He practically sewed himself to the side of his dying idol, Woody Guthrie, and learned that idolatry is fraught with myth. What a hoot to read of the tour groupies who camp outside of each venue in all weathers, striving to be the first ones let into the hall, in order to rush up to the rail at the base of the stage on the off-chance that Bob might look down on them during the concert. Even more dedicated are the surreptitious tapers who attach their recording equipment to their skin with duct tape to sneak it into the concert. If you would have passed by the men's room before the show started, you would have heard loud ripping sounds as the components were ripped from their adhesive. Ouch! The author recounts the tales of folks who have devoted their entire apartments to shrines to all things Bob and the couple who owned the cafe in his hometown, crammed with Bob memorabilia. Waiting for Bob to come and bless it. We are also exposed the the uber Dylanologists, the folks who own every release and know every word of every song. They wait for the next crumb to drip from his lips. This work took me back and brought me forward. Find yourself first before your pledge your life to a reluctant hero. Well done, Mr. Kinney. My thanks for a complimentary copy to Net Galley and Goodreads.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Facinating, Obsessed, Occasionally Delusional Fans of Bob Dylan... 2 July 2014
By Michel Short - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
The Dylanologists: Adventures in the Land of Bob" authored by award winning music writer David Kinney was an unexpected intriguing read. The topic of exuberant scholars, professors, fans/followers totally obsessed with Bob Dylan that dedicate their lives to listening and analyzing his music, collecting bootleg tapes and other miscellaneous objects, scraps of paper- anything Dylan, stalking him- going to all his concerts, living their lives to meet him or have him notice/speak to them. Though Dylan's music will be likely remembered hundreds of years from now, many of the more serious fans detailed and profiled in the book were both fascinating and disturbing.

Kinney writes historically of Dylan: from the shrine of his hometown in Hibbing, MN where fans congregate, early music career and concerts beginning in the 1960's to current times. It was interesting to learn that the historic 1969 Woodstock Festival was planned around a hopeful appearance of Dylan who lived in Woodstock at the time. Dylan's inspiration of Woody Guthrie's music was also noted, as was the folk, country, blues, rockabilly influences.

Dylan has always remained elusive and somewhat mythical to fans, insisting that he wasn't who people thought he was, did not have anything important to say specifically to them beyond what was recorded in his music. He routinely changed his life situations, beliefs, ideas projected to fans, many theorized to "head trip", mess with fans, and avoid being known. He always refused to elaborate or define himself. Dylan, a private person, was overwhelmed by his millions of "strange", obsessed, and "needy" fans who wanted and demanded so much from him. Dylan didn't want to be a spokesperson or responsible for anyone but himself. Throughout the book, his fans consistently made Dylan and his music the center of their universe, this is unlikely to change.
Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for this engaging read from the Goodread's Giveaways.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book on Dylan and Popular Culture I Have Ever Read 23 May 2014
By Charles M. Mann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the best book on Dylan and popular culture I have ever read. Kinney brilliantly details Dylan’s creative genius from his childhood through the present by interweaving the stories of a wide assortment of obsessive fans – some brilliant and some close to lunatics.

I think the great message of the book is that we should enjoy the wonderful music that Dylan has given us and allow him his privacy to live a safe and peaceful life.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars here's news 22 Jun 2014
By G. Wallace - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The obsessed are misfits. Who could have guessed? Not sure who this unscientific study will entertain or enlighten, but Kinney's a talented writer. Not all obsessed write books, but I can just about guarantee we aren't provided books by the un-obsessed. I can't tell if Kinney had a therapeutic goal in mind when he wrote this, but he knows his subjects, and from the inside. Some of the subjects are talents in their own right, mostly as writers and journalists. Is Dylan as subject worth the trouble? The book hints at that question, and the rhetorical answers are usually the same: no, he isn't Mother Therese or compared to what? There's a great saturation of Dylan literature around now, so some of the obsessed are being "productive." Perhaps the rest are barren and misfits. Is an obsessive barren if the obsession isn't lucrative? That criterion would condemn many.

Perhaps the next Kinney subject could be general obsession ranking, although in our culture those judgments are reserved for the academic researchers with their notions of normality. Surely the ranking can't proceed without quantitative measurement. As we all know, if it's quantitative it's objective.

Where this book gets funniest is the stories of the obsessives who become disenchanted. Oddly this should have begun with the 21-year-old Dylan's tall tales but it really began soon after with his abandonment of protest subject matter, then the resort to unwanted instruments, then the metamorphosis from city hipster to oblivious hillbilly, from presumed intellectual to born again preacher, from various flavors of washed up to other flavors. The changes are usually attributed to great cunning on Dylan's part but may simply reflect the wishes of various audiences. Kinney covers all this plus the epiphanies of the obsessed upon finally interacting with the singer of their souls, which results in everything from mercy to scorn (I assume we're getting one side's take on the interaction and that Dylan probably bridles at presumption).
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