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on 10 May 2001
Heylin's updated chronicle of Dylan is in a word comprehensive, this work is probably the most complete and accurate account of the life of the great man around. The author goes a long way to cut through the often layers of mystique and innuendo that surround the life of Bob, the early days in Hibbing and New York, the post bike-crash times in Woodstock and the Christian years. The book is crammed full of detailed accounts of which song was written where, the in?s and outs of the recording of every album and who Bob played with and where on tour.
All good stuff for the committed Dylan fan, nevertheless I couldn?t help feeling that the detail in which events were catalogued became rather dry. Personally I feel that the in its mission to be as historically accurate as possible the book lost site of the more interesting side of Dylanology. The effect that the songs were having on music community and society at large at the time, his legacy to music today, and the roots of the truly revolutionary work he was producing. To me the works of the likes of Greil Marcus provides a lot more interesting insights into what we are all most interested in, the music of Bob Dylan.
I would still recommend those of us who have something of a Dylan obsession, and if you?re interested in 1980?s and 90?s Dylan. However if it?s your first venture into Dylan literature it may prove grueling, maybe something lighter and/or philosophical would suit better (Scaduto and Gill have good works on early Dylan).
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on 3 January 2001
Not light reading for those with merely a passing interest in the life and work of Bob Dylan, this book is a brave and extensive re-write of the original publication, written in 1990. This one, subtitled, "Take Two" is more for the die-hard fan, tracing Dylan's activities over the years in quite extraordinary detail.
The book draws from many sources, including interviews with those who have known and worked with his bobness over the years. The author, Clinton Heylin, is clearly not afraid of being critical of the man and his work (quite strongly sometimes) but approaches areas of criticism from an intelligent viewpoint.
The only fault of the book is that the often sceptical approach can often seem a little too personally over-opinionated, but even these opinions help make the book intensely readable, whether you agree with them, or not.
This re-working of the book is particularly notable for it's detailed analysis of Dylan's earliest years, and for it's accounts of Dylans latest activities - leading right up to the year 2000.
In this later section, the book paints a controversially dark picture of the Dylan of the late nineties as a man deeply disturbed by personal conflicts in his art, his religion and his love life. It describes a genius with very little faith in the world around him, sheilded now by his own personal barriers so that even those closest to him rarely get a glimse of the real man within.
One does makes you wonder, then, how a biographer can ever hope to portray the man to us, when those closest to him don't really know him.
The facts, the gossip, the life and the art are assembled and examined thoroughly in this book, albeit from the authors rather personal viewpoint. The time and effort applied here is undoubtable, and the reader can do nothing but recognise and respect it - and find the result fascinating.
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on 10 May 2001
Heylin's updated chronicle of Dylan is in a word comprehensive, this work is probably the most complete and accurate account of the life of the great man around. The author goes a long way to cut through the often layers of mystique and innuendo that surround the life of Bob, the early days in Hibbing and New York, the post bike-crash times in Woodstock and the Christian years. The book is crammed full of detailed accounts of which song was written where, the in?s and outs of the recording of every album and who Bob played with and where on tour.
All good stuff for the committed Dylan fan, nevertheless I couldn?t help feeling that the detail in which events were catalogued became rather dry. Personally I feel that the in its mission to be as historically accurate as possible the book lost site of the more interesting side of Dylanology. The effect that the songs were having on music community and society at large at the time, his legacy to music today, and the roots of the truly revolutionary work he was producing. To me the works of the likes of Greil Marcus provides a lot more interesting insights into what we are all most interested in, the music of Bob Dylan.
I would still recommend those of us who have something of a Dylan obsession, and if you?re interested in 1980?s and 90?s Dylan. However if it?s your first venture into Dylan literature it may prove grueling, maybe something lighter and/or philosophical would suit better (Scaduto and Gill have good works on early Dylan).
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on 28 October 2002
I read this biography not just because I'm a big and longstanding fan of Bob Dylan, but also because of the strength of many of the accolades the book has received, both in Amazon and elsewhere. I couldn't have been more disappointed. The biography is clearly well-researched, despite Heylin's proud but unconvincing defence of the fact that he has never met Dylan. However, the biography lacks any warmth or feel for Dylan and the huge and deep contribution his music has made to modern culture. The book comes down with detail, but much of it is incidental and irrelevant. Moreover, Heylin manages to be condescending and irritatingly opinionated, especially and unnecessarily so about other biographers. His constant use of direct quotes merely breaks the flow of the text and rarely adds much. Normally, when one reads a biography of a musician and songwriter who has played such an important part in one's own life, and especially when the author admits to being fan, one would expect to be driven back to the music with renewed vigour and interest. In the case of Heylin's biography this didn't happen. I can still recall the huge impact that some of Dylan's albums had on my life, and music more generally, but this does not come across in Heylin's often flat and at times self-important writing style. While there is plenty of gossip around Dylan's fondness for women, drugs and drink, few original insights are offered about his music. Indeed, Dylan's music is hardly assessed at all, apart from occasional references to the views of other critics. Dylan's life and music deserve a lot more.
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on 21 January 2001
Clinton heylin has surely written the most all encompassing study of rock music's most elusive genius.Covering his entire career the author correctly points out the inferior times both in recording and in concert,and succeeds in giving us a picture of the true dylan.Sometimes the endless paragraphs about making albums are a bit much for the casual reader and i would have like to have known more about his relationship with his grown up children.Though these are minor faults in a biography unlikely to be bettered.
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on 18 July 2003
Heylin is an exceptionally well-informed fan who presents himself as a serious biographer. With a more interventionist editor at Penguin (perhaps from the literature or history depts rather than the music desk), such a claim could be within his reach.
As it is, however, his prose often slips into "rock-speak" and unsubstantiated opinion, especially when discussing the actual music. In addition, comments as to how certain songs were performed on specific nights in 1991 may establish his credentials with fellow anoraks, but to the general reader (surely the target audience for a Penguin biography), this means very little.
Perhaps it was a subconscious admission of guilt when he critcised another would-be biographer of Dylan as having a "writing style [that] had editors scampering for the hills".
If you own more than 30 Dylan albums, you've probably already got this book (and no doubt really enjoyed it for the content rather than the style). If you haven't, then "Down the Highway" by Howard Sounes is a better buy.
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on 29 June 2001
There is a problem with biographies about very private people. The problem is that almost 95 per cent of what is written is either gossip or hearsay. Clinton seems to pride himself on the fact that he has interviwed many people within Dylan's close proximity. Now Mr Clinton should realise that not only is his information secondhand but thirdhand by the time it gets to the reader. Clinton also smugly knocks other biographers while claiming to be a "professional biographer" himself. A man who has such faith and trust in one liners from contacts such as some man who once lifted Bob Dylan's amplifier from the back of a van and into some dodgy folk bar in Greenwich in 1962. Even people who were directly connected to dylan are always going to give their own version of a story in the light of the fact that its cool to have known Dylan at all, all these people were or are in the entertainment field, they are attention seekers, egomaniacs. Clinton prides his book on these bits and pieces of gossip and inane trivialities that he thinks are great insights into Dylan's life, the whole thing is ludicrous, Dylan has done a great job on keeping his life private and fans should respect that. If you want a good Dylan book get Michael Gray's book Song and dance man Gray does not deal with gossip or rumours he deals with the academics of Dylan's art itself which is really all we can do and all we should do if we have any respect for Dylan at all as an artist.
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on 10 February 2017
Great product
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on 3 April 2001
I just finished this book and I must say that it is the best Dylan bio on the market. I've read many, but this is by far the most comprehensive. What I enjoyed most was that Dylan's personal life was examined, but not in a tabloid style. The narrative is such that the author's love of Dylan's music really comes through.
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