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PostPosted: Sat September 2nd, 2017, 09:38 GMT 
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"Everybody knows by now there's a gazillion books on me..." True. And as pleasing as that is, it's also a serious problem, namely: "Which ones should I read first?!" Could anybody recommend some more? Having become a huge fan a year ago, so far I have read...
Chronicles (of course)
No direction home
Behind the shades
The Rolling Thunder Logbook

...and in German...
Bob Dylan (Heinrich Detering)
Bob Dylan's Mysterienspiele
Die Geschichte seiner Musik
How does it feel? Das Bob Dylan Lesebuch
Surkamp Basis-Biographie
Greil Marcus' Schriften (I think it's just plain "Writings" in English)

What about Song & Dance Man, On the Road with Bob Dylan, Who is that man?, Another Side of Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited: Ein Album schreibt Geschichte, and Performing Artist, for example? Or others I haven't mentioned or heard of yet?
I'd be really grateful! Thank you already! :)


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PostPosted: Sat September 2nd, 2017, 13:32 GMT 
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Song and Dance Man, On the Road With Bob Dylan and the Performing Artist books (1 & 2 in particular) are all strongly recommended.

Also worth reading:
DYlan's Visions of Sin by Christopher Ricks, Watching the River Flow by Paul Williams, and a hard-to-find book by John Herdman called Voice Without Restraint.


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PostPosted: Sat September 2nd, 2017, 15:27 GMT 
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Voice With Restraint thank you very much! :D Gonna put them on top of my list now.
Visions of Sin is one I've also come across a couple of times; some say it's very academic, analytic and sometimes harder to read than others - do you think that's true? :?
As for the hard to find Voice Without Restraint - where did you get it? I googled it and it sure sounds interesting.
And one last question: Are you a native English speaker? That is, have you read the originals?


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PostPosted: Sat September 2nd, 2017, 15:36 GMT 

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I found Visions of Sin well nigh unreadable. A classic case of an academic who cannot resist showing off, finding 'meanings' that aren't there, and generally sucking all the enjoyment out of the music. The only Dylan book I gave up on without finishing, and got rid of.


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PostPosted: Sat September 2nd, 2017, 20:28 GMT 

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I consider Song and Dance Man the most insightful critical book about Dylan. Hard Rain by Tim Riley is really good. And I am looking forward to Heylin's Trouble in Mind


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PostPosted: Sat September 2nd, 2017, 20:50 GMT 
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Behind The Shades (Revised) by Clinton Heylin is a brilliant book full of information
If you wanted a read just specifically about the Never Ending Tour, 'The Razors Edge'
by Andrew Muir is really well written, that's written from a tape collectors point of
view as the Never Ending Tour unfolded. His enthusiasm is palpable throughout.
'The Never Ending Star' by Lee Marshall looks into Dylan as a performing artist.
Clinton Heylin also wrote 'Revolution In The Air : The Songs Of Bob Dylan : Vol 1 1957-1973,
and the sequel book 'Still On The Road - 1974-2008.
All great books on Dylan


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PostPosted: Sat September 2nd, 2017, 21:27 GMT 
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Christopher Ricks is a literary critic (in fact, he used to be Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford) with a very idiosyncratic style which infuriates some. He also tends to treat the songs as poems, giving only a passing nod to the music. However, when he gets it right (re: the chapter on Hattie Carroll) he captures something of the depth of Dylan's writing that few other writers manage to do.

As for the Herdman book, I bought it when it came out and it's long out of print. Try abebooks.com or abebooks.co.uk

P.S. Yes, I'm a native speaker and I read the books in English.

P.P.S. Most of the best writers on Dylan -- Ricks, Williams, Marcus -- can also be irritating at times when they ride their obsessions too far, but there are those other times when they ride them just far enough.


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PostPosted: Sat September 2nd, 2017, 23:49 GMT 
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All of the above ... plus I am still enjoying The Ballad Of Bob Dylan by Epstein. Its quite a long read and I have been picking it up and putting it down for a while, but it's a great read.

Never Ending Star was recommended to me elsewhere on this site and it hasn't disappointed.

The classics are Williams and Heylin (before he went legit) though.


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PostPosted: Sun September 3rd, 2017, 10:18 GMT 

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Ricks is an anti-modernist literary critic, that may be one reason why he is not popular among his peers.

I thought he was very honest and humble with Visions of Sin. He believes that his authority lies on the literary side and that he has no more than a layman's opinion on Dylan's music side and therefore felt he had no right to impose his opinions there. He attempts to analyse Dylan's lyrics in the context of the Western Canon of Poetry. I thought it was a decent attempt. It is now surely more important than ever, if that recent award Dylan received means anything at all.


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PostPosted: Sun September 3rd, 2017, 10:21 GMT 

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Robert Sheltons book...


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PostPosted: Sun September 3rd, 2017, 12:37 GMT 
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Behind The Shades by Clinton Heylin was my favourite read up to now, Chronicles, Volume One is worth a mention but it would be nice to know if he is even considering writing Volume 2 and on.


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PostPosted: Sun September 3rd, 2017, 14:10 GMT 
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I've only recently finished Behind the Shades and it's highly informative and of course a classic among the Dylan literature. Only thing I dont like about it is the end - how he doesn't acknowledge TOOM to be the masterpiece that it IS (not gonna argue on that :wink: ).

Thank you all for your replies! :D Especially Never Ending Star sounds very tempting... I'd love to have some more about the Never Ending Tour (and not just up to 2000, but let's see).

I must say that from what I have already read I actually prefer Ricks to Marcus. He can be horribly one-sided in my opinion. Does Visions of sin treat every Dylan era equally or does Ricks analyze some periods of time in a more detailled way? As for the obsession of some major critics - we're all just diehard fans aren't we? :wink:


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PostPosted: Sun September 3rd, 2017, 14:22 GMT 
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Oh and as for Chronicles: Could it be that Vol. 2 is due for fall/winter 2018? I'm not sure but I might have read something... I hope he is currently writing it installiert of selecting songs for a fourth (un) cover album... only thing that would be greater: a new masterpiece of originals!!! :D


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PostPosted: Sun September 3rd, 2017, 17:14 GMT 
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bloodblondehighwayhome wrote:
Does Visions of sin treat every Dylan era equally or does Ricks analyze some periods of time in a more detailled way? As for the obsession of some major critics - we're all just diehard fans aren't we? :wink:


The book is in 3 sections: The Sins, The Virtues, The Heavenly Graces, and songs from all periods are chosen to explore those themes. Ricks wrote that his favourite song was I Want You but that it didn't make the book because, as I recall, he didn't have anything to say about it other than that he loved it. Well worth reading.


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PostPosted: Sun September 3rd, 2017, 18:11 GMT 
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Ok decision made - I want it


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PostPosted: Sun September 3rd, 2017, 18:16 GMT 

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Honestly, the best books I’ve read “about” Dylan, those that have most deeply affected how I hear, understand, and relate to his music aren’t actually “about” him. Many are books that I’ve discovered because of my interest in his music—some that he’s pointed to directly via allusions, borrowings, etc, (aka “plagiarism” ) some that others have mentioned in connection with him, and many that I’ve just stumbled across that have caught my attention in the places where Dylan’s themes and references seem to overlap and intersect.

Sorry for the long post. I struggled to choose only so few of the incredible passages in these books:





Beethoven: His Spiritual Development, by JWN Sullivan

But, in any case, the bare statement of a situation the composition is supposed to be about tells us nothing of any value. Even if the composer had a definite situation in mind, and one knew precisely what that situation was, a description of the situation tells us nothing of the quality of the response awakened by the music.


Beethoven’s imaginative realization of the death of a hero, in the slow movement of the Eroica symphony, for instance, is utterly different in quality from Wagner’s realization of the same situation in the Siegfried funeral march. What these compositions mean to us is precisely their communication, in each case, of the personal and individual conception of the situation. And it is this personal conception which reveals to us directly the depth and subtlety of the composer’s feelings and perceptions. Such communications inform us directly of the spiritual context from which they spring, and they do this even if we are completely ignorant, of any situation that may be involved. On the other hand, knowledge of the situation tells us nothing that we want to know. If we use the word “heroic” to describe the music of the Eroica symphony, that is not because the symphony is “about” Napoleon or Abercrombie, but because Heroism, as a state of being, was realized by Beethoven to the extent that he has expressed it, and it is the quality of his realization that is important. It is his conception of the heroic that matters to us, and which is a clue to the greatness of the soul which is expressing itself.

…the content, as we have said, is the composer’s reaction to the situation, not the situation. And this reaction is conditioned by the spiritual nature of the man and is a revelation of it. In his capacity to express this content Beethoven reveals himself as a great musical genius, and the content itself reveals him as a great spirit.


_____________



Genesis of a Music, by Harry Partch.

The examination of even a small part of the world’s music and what it means to various peoples and to various creative persons is in some ways rather like a plunge into dominant night. It is a plunge into a realm of the comparatively measureless. Not until we reach the musical equinox do we find the comparatively measurable, the dominant day of precise aural quantities which can be noted in fairly precise aural reactions-ratios, consonances, sonances, dissonances. In the dominance of night is a more ineffable value, in which the seen and the heard are out of perspective, distorted by untold ages of prejudice, elusive and illusory, and consequently of less ultimate concern than those qualities that can be discerned through the intuitive faculties. [this could stand as a wonderful description of "Shadows in the Night."]

This ineffable value is related less to fact than to effect; but the mechanical means for producing known or conjectured effects can be examined, notwithstanding the non-universality of the effects of music, which is too patent to be labored.

It is a comparatively simple matter to limn the whole panorama of music, the waxing and waning of one type of music shadowed against another other in the same process, of the academic versus the ecclesiastical versus folk versus popular, which at one moment in history and in a given spot are virtually synonymous, at another quite irreconcilable. But beyond an analysis of circumstances and mechanics are questions that can be little more than skirted: what is it that makes Beethoven what he is to some, and the Red River Valley what it is, apart from geography, to others? What was the music of vanished civilizations like in terms of actual reactions?

It is quite impossible for us Westerners to imagine what ancient Greek music was really like, even after we know the salient facts about it. The Greeks could not use phrases that would convey absolute meaning to us. And we do not know and can never know the exact nature of the spirit with which they met a mordant human artifice or creation of their own milieu.

Even when we hear a highly developed exotic music and know the facts regarding it, such as the classic Chinese drama as interpreted by Mei Lan-fang, fang, who toured the United States some years ago, many of us cannot meet it on a common level of spirit. True, Americans especially are capable of a wide range of response. Somewhere along the American line a composer, whatever opposition and indifference he meets, will find mountain people to like him if he writes mountain music, valley people to like him if he writes “valid” music, sinophiles to like him if he writes “Chinese” music, and someone to “understand” him if he goes off the deep end to write something thing that no one understands. But this is not the whole story.

Throughout history the Monophonic concept has been consistently manifested through one medium: the individual’s spoken words, which are more certainly the juice of a given identity than anything else in the tonal world. Of all the tonal ingredients a creative ’man can put into his music, his voice is at once the most dramatically potent and the most intimate. ills voice does not necessarily mean his own voice and it certainly does not mean the specialized idiosyncrasy known as “serious” singing. It means his conception as expressed by the human voice and it means one voice.

For the essentially vocal and verbal music of the individual-a Monophonic phonic concept-the word Corporeal may be used, since it is a music that is vital to a time and place, a here and now. … Corporeal music is emotionally “tactile.” It does not grow from the root of “pure form.” It cannot be characterized as either mental or spiritual.

An important distinction, then, as regards the Corporeal and the Abstract, is between an individual’s vocalized words, intended to convey meaning, and musicalized words that convey no meaning, whether rendered by an individual or a group, because they are beyond the hearers’ understanding, because they have been ritualized, or because of other evolvements of rendition.

[quoting Plato]"Teach the children of the great that through thy care they may become just, mild and wise; firm without severity; upholding the dignity and pride of their station without vanity or assumption. Express these doctrines in poems, that they may be sung to appropriate melodies accompanied by the music of instruments. Let the music follow the sense of the words [italics mine-H.P.]; let it be simple and ingenuous, for vain, empty and effeminate music is to be condemned. Music is the expression of the soul’s emotion; if the soul of the musician be virtuous, his music will be full of nobility and will unite the souls of men with the spirits of heaven.’


__________


Joseph Conrad in “Preface to the N####r of the Narcissus” [poor title today, though innocently intentioned by Conrad who was by no means racist and adamantly against slavery and imperialism]

And art itself may be defined as a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect. It is an attempt to find in its forms, in its colors, in its light, in its shadows, in the aspects of matter and in the facts of life what of each is fundamental, what is enduring and essential–their one illuminating and convincing quality–the very truth of their existence.

… All art, therefore, appeals primarily to the senses, and the artistic aim when expressing itself in written words must also make its appeal through the senses, if its highest desire is to reach the secret spring of responsive emotions. It must strenuously aspire to the plasticity of sculpture, to the colour of painting, and to the magic suggestiveness of music —which is the art of arts. And it is only through complete, unswerving devotion to the perfect blending of form and substance; it is only through an unremitting never-discouraged care for the shape and ring of sentences that an approach can be made to plasticity, to colour, and that the light of magic suggestiveness may be brought to play for an evanescent instant over the commonplace surface of words: of the old, old words, worn thin, defaced by ages of careless usage. The sincere endeavour to accomplish that creative task, to go as far on that road as his strength will carry him, to go undeterred by faltering, weariness or reproach, is the only valid justification for the worker in prose.

And if his conscience is clear, his answer to those who in the fullness of a wisdom which looks for immediate profit, demand specifically to be edified, consoled, amused; who demand to be promptly improved, or encouraged, or frightened, or shocked, or charmed, must run thus: —My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel —it is, before all, to make you see. That —and no more, and it is everything. If I succeed, you shall find there according to your deserts: encouragement, consolation, fear, charm —all you demand —and, perhaps, also that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask.

To snatch in a moment of courage, from the remorseless rush of time, a passing phase of life, is only the beginning of the task. The task approached in tenderness and faith is to hold up unquestioningly, without choice and without fear, the rescued fragment before all eyes in the light of a sincere mood. It is to show its vibration, its colour, its form; and through its movement, its form, and its colour, reveal the substance of its truth —disclose its inspiring secret: the stress and passion within the core of each convincing moment. In a single-minded attempt of that kind, if one be deserving and fortunate, one may perchance attain to such clearness of sincerity that at last the presented vision of regret or pity, of terror or mirth, shall awaken in the hearts of the beholders that feeling of unavoidable solidarity; of the solidarity in mysterious origin, in toil, in joy, in hope, in uncertain fate, which binds men to each other and all mankind to the visible world.

It is evident that he who, rightly or wrongly, holds by the convictions expressed above cannot be faithful to any one of the temporary formulas of his craft. The enduring part of them —the truth which each only imperfectly veils —should abide with him as the most precious of his possessions, but they all: Realism, Romanticism, Naturalism, even the unofficial sentimentalism (which like the poor, is exceedingly difficult to get rid of) all these gods must, after a short period of fellowship, abandon him —even on the very threshold of the temple —to the stammerings of his conscience and to the outspoken consciousness of the difficulties of his work. In that uneasy solitude the supreme cry of Art for Art itself, loses the exciting ring of its apparent immorality. It sounds far off. It has ceased to be a cry, and is heard only as a whisper, often incomprehensible, but at times and faintly encouraging.

To arrest, for the space of a breath, the hands busy about the work of the earth, and compel men entranced by the sight of distant goals to glance for a moment at the surrounding vision of form and colour, of sunshine and shadows; to make them pause for a look, for a sigh, for a smile —such is the aim, difficult and evanescent, and reserved only for a very few to achieve. But sometimes, by the deserving and the fortunate, even that task is accomplished. And when it is accomplished —behold! —all the truth of life is there: a moment of vision, a sigh, a smile —and the return to an eternal rest.


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PostPosted: Sun September 3rd, 2017, 19:49 GMT 

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bloodblondehighwayhome wrote:
Ok decision made - I want it
Good luck with that. It's shit.


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PostPosted: Sun September 3rd, 2017, 20:41 GMT 

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All of the above with the caveat --where do you like to be on the spectrum biography, lit crit, performing/recording artist, historical context, personal memories? Also are you interested in 1960s Bob or the NET?

Two books out of the thirty or forty I've read which I most enjoyed are Mike Marqusee's 'Wicked Messenger' and Toby Thompson's Positively Main Street. Neither are heavy tomes in any sense. Both are a pleasure to read.


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PostPosted: Mon September 4th, 2017, 10:34 GMT 
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tyke wrote:
All of the above with the caveat --where do you like to be on the spectrum biography, lit crit, performing/recording artist, historical context, personal memories? Also are you interested in 1960s Bob or the NET?

Two books out of the thirty or forty I've read which I most enjoyed are Mike Marqusee's 'Wicked Messenger' and Toby Thompson's Positively Main Street. Neither are heavy tomes in any sense. Both are a pleasure to read.


That's a very good question. Recording artist and literary critic material has always been a pleasure to me, I've been through quite a few copies. At the moment, I'm looking for some more enjoyable biographies and literature about Dylan as performing artist especially, but generally I'm interested in everything of the above. Same goes for the period, however the (mid) 60s, Rolling Thunder era and NET would be my picks right now.

I've googled the suggestions of yours, they also seem great, thank you :D Did Positively Main Street tell you a lot about "real Bob" you had not known before?


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PostPosted: Mon September 4th, 2017, 12:20 GMT 

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bloodblondehighwayhome wrote:
tyke wrote:

I've googled the suggestions of yours, they also seem great, thank you :D Did Positively Main Street tell you a lot about "real Bob" you had not known before?


Probably not is the honest answer. But here's a guy who decided to go up to Hibbing in 1967 and poke around, interview some people including Bob's mother if I remember, get a feel for the place and its people. He certainly did something that no-one else had thought of doing up to that point and puts it across well. Similarly Scaduto's is a good book in the sense that it is of its time, written in the moment and without the benefit of hindsight. Some more modern books have the advantage of perspective but to my mind lose immediacy so in some cases the answer to the How Does It Feel question is---not like that.


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PostPosted: Mon September 4th, 2017, 15:31 GMT 

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NateW wrote:
Honestly, the best books I’ve read “about” Dylan, those that have most deeply affected how I hear, understand, and relate to his music aren’t actually “about” him . . .

scott warmuth's - a bob dylan bookshelf
https://www.pinterest.com/scottwarmuth/ ... bookshelf/


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PostPosted: Mon September 4th, 2017, 16:00 GMT 
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The books I'd like to put on Bob Dylan are numerous and varied - but I think I'd only manage 2 or 3 before he fell over.


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PostPosted: Mon September 4th, 2017, 19:18 GMT 
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McG wrote:
The books I'd like to put on Bob Dylan are numerous and varied - but I think I'd only manage 2 or 3 before he fell over.


You don't happen to be talking about 1975 Bob (I like your icon :wink: )? He is (was) slender and small but apparently stronger than it seems; and he can box 8)
Which books would you put on him, then?
PS: And which ones would you prefer to read?


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PostPosted: Mon September 4th, 2017, 19:44 GMT 

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Ian Bell's 2 part biography is worthwhile. Heylin is good for the factual information but his sense of superiority is insufferable, I found Bell a much more enjoyable read.


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PostPosted: Mon September 4th, 2017, 23:03 GMT 
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Fat Bob wrote:
Ian Bell's 2 part biography is worthwhile. Heylin is good for the factual information but his sense of superiority is insufferable, I found Bell a much more enjoyable read.


Agreed!


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