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The Songs He Didn't Write : Bob Dylan Under the Influence Paperback – 2 Nov 2008

5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: CHROME DREAMS (2 Nov. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842404245
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842404249
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,059,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Cheshire, England, but spent most of his life living in the Midlands, magazine editor, freelance writer, author and music historian Derek Barker, whose passions are the Blues, (real) R&B, and 60s and 70 Rock Music, is a renowned authority on the life and works of Bob Dylan. Derek founded the international Bob Dylan magazine ISIS in September 1985 and has edited this highly respected journal uninterruptedly for the past twenty-five years. ISIS magazine has subscribers in 32 countries.

Over the years, Derek has contributed regularly to BBC Radio programs on Bob Dylan and has been featured on the BBC World Service, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio Northern Ireland, BBC Radio Scotland as well as dozens of local radio stations. He has also appeared on the BBC 2 television program 'The Culture Show' and Channel 4 Breakfast News.

Derek's first book, 'ISIS: A Bob Dylan Anthology' (Helter Skelter Publishing, 2001) is a collection of writings and interviews from the back pages of ISIS magazine. This book received first rate reviews. It sold out a hardback edition, two paperback printings and a 2004 revised edition. A second collection of writings from ISIS magazine, entitled 'Bob Dylan Anthology 2 - 20 Years of ISIS' (Chrome Dreams, 2005) is a bumper 368-page book that was published to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ISIS magazine. This book sold out as a hardback edition, but is still in print in paperback.

Derek's most recent book, the highly praised 'The Songs He Didn't Write - Bob Dylan Under The Influence' (Chrome Dreams 2008) received universal rave reviews from Dylan fans and the monthlies alike. The book was voted as one of the ten best music books of 2009 by UNCUT magazine and was also chosen as the third best music book of 2009 in RECORD COLLECTOR magazine. Derek has had his writings published in journals in England, the USA and Japan and has worked on a number of film and CD projects covering a multitude of artists. Barker's status as an expert on all things Dylan is such that he has advised premier auction house Christie's (both in London and New York) on the authenticity of items of Dylan memorabilia.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Bob Dylan has dedicated a large and significant proportion of his career to interpreting the songs of others, and this 500-page book provides fascinating evidence of this. Largely overlooked in print until now, Derek Barker has done a great job in turning the spotlight onto this previously neglected aspect of Dylan's career.

This valuable book documents both the history of the songs Dylan has covered and their key performances, and will send you scurrying back to your Dylan records with renewed curiosity.

It's a book that will cast Dylan in a new light for some: primarily thought of as a songwriter, here is the Bob Dylan who turned the force of his interpretive gifts onto the words of others.

Extensively illustrated throughout with pictures of the performers from whom Dylan borrowed the songs, and of record labels, concert posters and of course Dylan himself, you can dip into the book or be entertained from cover-to-cover - it works either way. Want to know the background to that obscure song Dylan played at the last show you attended? You'll find it here. Want to marvel at the sheer breadth of Dylan's musical knowledge and interest? Settle down for an afternoon and read.

There are also extensive appendices which give the reader the low-down on a range of associate topics. These give details of recording sessions, information on bootleg recordings, and further text that fleshes out some of the key people, places and artefacts referred to in the body of the book. Two take two examples, 'Theme Time Radio Hour' and the genre of 'Talking Blues' are both expanded upon.

It is worth adding that this book is bang up-to-date, including references to material from Dylan's latest 'Bootleg Series' release, 'Tell Tale Signs'.

There are always new angles to find with Bob Dylan. Derek Barker has identified one with "The Songs He Didn't Write". Crucially, has done his subject justice.
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Format: Paperback
It isn't surprising that this book is right up my street; when I wrote my history of the Never Ending Tour I remarked often on the "extraordinary procession of traditional songs that Dylan would cover over the years of the N.E.T." and that "night after night, year after year, they have supplied the high points. So fully does Dylan inhabit these traditional numbers that they often sound more like Dylan songs than some he has penned himself". My main beef is that this wasn't around then for me to use as a reference work, or when I came to write my next book which discussed their effect on Dylan's own writing style and how he draws his inspiration from them. Unless you have spent hours researching songs for what turns out to be one passing reference and then multiply that a hundredfold for the study of any and every Dylan album in particular you'll not appreciate the huge amount of time it takes to track all this kind of information down.

For those dealing only in pleasure I see this book having many uses, I can imagine a dedicated collector listening to a recording from a show in say 1992 checking the background to a song he's never heard before popping up in the middle of the set, similarly anyone listening to a Dylan album with the odd cover on it, or a Dylan albums that are nothing but covers. It's also perfect just for opening at random and reading whatever your eye alights upon.
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Format: Paperback
Derek Barker has surpassed his own exemplary high standards with this astonishing reference book. Anyone with the slightest interest in the history of music or anyone with the slightest interest in Bob Dylan will find a wealth of interesting facts here. There are hidden gems and snippets of information covering every genre of music from ancient folk songs to the most recent of musical trends. This book tells of who wrote some of the greatest songs of recent times and what became of them. All told in Derek Barker's wonderful easy to read style. Where on earth does he find all this stuff. Read it page by page or dip in and out as you like, every page is a true delight. I thought I knew it all. I had to think again. One of the truly great music books.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a monumental piece of work. The level of detail is astounding. Derek Barker says at the beginning of the book that it is the result of twenty-three years of writing about Bob Dylan - and you can well believe it. It is an incredible, painstaking work of reference but at the same time, highly readable and highly enjoyable. It is interspersed with pictures throughout.

The book provides information on over 500 songs, written by other people, that Dylan has either recorded or performed. It includes the songs' origins and how Dylan encountered them. There is information on lots of songs that I, for one, had no idea he had recorded. Some are circulating as bootlegs but others have never seen the light of day. There appears to be a wealth of unreleased material out there. There is even information on a 78 rpm recording made on Christmas Eve 1956, one copy of which is known to have survived to the present day.

This is a book that will be delved into again and again, and deserves to be on every Dylan fan's bookshelf. Five stars are not enough.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9ddededc) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ddf1fc0) out of 5 stars Amazing Book On An Overlooked Aspect of Bob Dylan's Work 31 Jan. 2009
By Bornintime - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've overdosed on Bob Dylan books (have read over 50 of them) to the point where I haven't read one in a couple years. Most discuss interpretations of Dylan's songs from the author's viewpoint (no better than yours when it comes to Dylan), others rehash biographical information that's been around for years. So I almost passed on this excellent book by Derek Barker; I sure am glad I didn't. What pushed me into buying it that I have a great interest in Bob's live performances of traditional and folk covers that he did in the late 80's and early 90's, like the songs from "Good As I Been To You" and "World Gone Wrong", but not limited to just those on the albums. In what is arguably the nadir of Dylan's live shows (where he often butchered his own songs) he would throw in these amazing chestnuts like "Lakes Of Pontchartrain", "Trail Of The Buffalo", "Eileen Aroon", "Barbara Allen" and many others. Many of these covers were only performed once or a few times. If you listen to the live recordings from this half decade you can find this gold amid much other dross. What this book did for me is illuminate the history of all these songs, and every other cover song Dylan recorded or played live. It tells who wrote the original song, where Bob probably heard them and when he played the song live (or at least the first and most recent time). For the hardcore fan this is completely fascinating. It had me pulling out my spindles of live cd's hoping that I had some of these recordings. Quite a lot of us like Dylan for his voice, not in spite of it. Bob Dylan is a great singer and, amazingly enough, these non-Dylan songs are a big part of Bob's legacy. The work in this book is meticulous and obviously a labor of love. It covers almost 50 years! Only someone who has lived and breathed Bob Dylan for decades would care or dare to take on this project and Derek Barker does it admirably.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9df12c3c) out of 5 stars Brilliant 28 Feb. 2009
By Robert Levinson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A big part of Dylan's unprecedented allure, beyond his own extraordinary songwriting ability and mesmerizing concert performances, is his gift for uniquely covering hundreds of songs by other talented singers and songwriters, both known and unknown. Until now our knowledge of those songs, their creators, their antecedents and what Dylan did with them was a hodgepodge of missing information, misinformation, mangled information and guesswork. Derek Barker, in this wonderfully written, extraordinarily entertaining and thoroughly informative book, has righted all those wrongs. Thank heavens! The book is structured well, is fun and easy to read, plus, it answers all the questions even the most devote Dylan fan needs answered. I use it as a reference guide for my Dylan class as well as on my Dylan radio show when anyone wants to know whether Bob's covered a song or not, when he covered it, how often and, more importantly, what did he or did not add to it. Complete your Dylan library, buy and love this book, just as I do.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9deb96c0) out of 5 stars Excellent Reference 11 Jan. 2015
By Richard J. Arndt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book with a lot of back story on songs that Dylan did write but has song over the years. Works almost as a mini-history of American folk songs. Well worth the price.
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