From Publishers Weekly
As an interview subject, Bob Dylan is notorious for his unpredictable moods and evasive, impish answers. Yet this priceless collection teems with honest, open, and thoughtful musings from a man described by editor Cott (Dylan; Back to a Shadow in the Night) as a "playful expositor of his munificent and inspiring thought-dreams." Organized chronologically, the interviews illuminate Dylan's changing views of music, life and his career, so readers can watch how a cocksure young man, reluctantly occupying the spotlight ("I'm really not the right person to tramp around the country saving souls," he told Playboy in 1966), remains forever uneasy with his status as he becomes one of the most influential musicians in history ("If I wasn't Bob Dylan, I'd probably think that Bob Dylan has a lot of answers myself," he tells Playboy in 1978). Most notable is Dylan's unwavering conviction in his instincts despite disapproval from other musicians, music critics and fans; after getting booed during his electric debut, he told Nora Ephron "They can boo till the end of time. I know that the music is real, more real than the boos." Those who have been touched by Dylan's songs will find this collection a fascinating window into his one-of-a-kind mind.
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Bob Dylan has been interviewed probably thousands of times, yet especially because he has a reputation for being a difficult subject, particularly in his rebellious younger years, it is gratifying to discover how substantive and compelling music journalist Cott's 29 selections are. Included are most of the key conversations, from early sessions with sympathetic interlocutors Studs Terkel and Nat Hentoff to recent colloquies marking his majestic comeback albums, Time Out of Mind
and Love and Theft
. Other interviewers include self-proclaimed "Dylanologist" A. J. Weberman, notorious for rummaging through his subject's trash cans, and playwright Sam Shepard, who later turned his interview into a one-act play. Because the dates of the pieces distribute pretty evenly throughout Dylan's career, they roughly chronicle it. Interestingly, the book has a gap between 1971 and 1978, a period during which Dylan took to the media to defend his short-lived born-again Christianity. Informative and readable, the collection well complements Dylan's unexpectedly sincere memoir, Chronicles, Volume One
(2004), which offered details that he shielded in his interviews. Gordon FlaggCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved