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Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews Paperback – May 15, 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

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 Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Wenner (May 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932958622
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932958621
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Let me just say that I am a big Dylan fan, and intruiged by his personality. I loved Dylan's "Chronicles Volume 1" autobiography, even if it did brought about more questions than answers. But then, isn't that the Dylan way?

"Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews" (447 pages) compiles 2 radio interview transcripts (from 1962 and 1963) and 29 interviews (from 1964 to 2004) and the book is a delight to read. Yes, some of the interviews become repetitive, but the overlying themes are two-fold: (1) Dylan never wanted the mantle of "consciousness of an era" thrown on him, and he has worked non-stop to throw off the public at large ever since the late 60s because of it, and (2) despite all he says and does, nobody really, truly can know or understand the man. He plays with the press as he sees fit. Hence, Dylan remains the enigma.

But us Dylan fans have a lot to look forward to: in a few months Dylan will release his first album of new music since 2001's outstanding "Love and Theft", and then of course there is the prospect of the next volume of "Chronicles" (no release date said yet). Meanwhile, Dylan hosts a monthly show on XM sattelite radio, which I've caught a few times, and that also is a delight.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I learned more about Bob Dylan and his music in reading these interviews than I ever did from either his several biographies or "analyses" of his work. VM Riccardi
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Format: Hardcover
This is a must read for serious Dylan fans, even though the interviews reproduced here are uneven. The better ones, from the early and later stages of Dylan's long career, are revealing and philosophical. Many mundane pieces from the long middle period are a bit tendentious -- even tedious at times. Dylan is enigmatic, contradictory, but often quite poetic in explaining his ambivalence about fame and icon status. All in all, well worth the purchase price.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is one of the best Dylan books that I've read. It begins with interviews in the early 60's when Dylan had just started to get noticed in the music world/folk scene, and they continue chronologically until 2004. The interviews give the reader a look at the emotions and thoughts of Bob Dylan through the eyes of many different reporters. However, most of the interviews are verbatim dialogue between Bob and the reporter. Bob starts out as an enthusiastic young man in the recording studio talking about his music and his tours. You begin to notice a shift in his thoughts in the mid to late 70's. He describes the making of his movie "Renaldo and Clara" and his thoughts seem unclear. However, it may simply be a look inside the mind of a genius. In addition, there are several interviews that discuss his conversion to Christianity. He seems obsessed with his new found religion. This phase quickly passes and the reader will begin to notice a shift to a more rational, thoughtful Bob Dylan. He begins to talk about his music and family (son, Jakob). Bob seems more sure of himself,his music, and his career in the late 90's and beyond. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!!!
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Format: Hardcover
Jonathan Cott has written sixteen books including others on Dylan and both rock and classical musicians: his depth and experience is perfect for BOB DYLAN: THE ESSENTIAL INTERVIEWS, a compilation of interviews following Dylan from the early sixties to today. There are over thirty such interviews gathered here which when taken as a unit provide a smooth historical and psychological progression you won't find in the many Dylan biographies on the market. Also included are all six major interviews Rolling Stone Magazine conducted with Dylan, including Cott's own interview. This is no light overview as many Dylan titles offer, but an in-depth account of his life, perspective and art which is a recommended 'must' for any authoritative Dylan collection - even those already stuffed with books.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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Format: Hardcover
This set of 29 interviews edited by Jonathan Cotts is not only essential, it is definitive. He has assembled a wonderful collection of interviews and character studies of Dylan over the past four-plus decades. Highlights include Nat Hentoff's "New Yorker" account of the recording of "Another Side of Bob Dylan," his goofy "Playboy" interview with Dylan from 1966; Dylan's various "Rolling Stone" interviews; and recent ones with Robert Hilburn of "The Los Angeles Times." My only complaint is that the book is not yet available in paperback but it is still well worth the price.
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Format: Hardcover
Thirty interviews over a forty year span are included in this volume. Dylan fans will thus have a lot of fun here. Dylan can be very funny and he also can be just plain kookie. One of his best gigs is his responses to questions that would make him a kind of Savior , political or otherwise of mankind. Here he is usually self- effacing and ironic.
One of the touching bits for me was his telling how as a nineteen year old youngster he took a Greyhound bus each day from Midtown Manhattan to visit Woody Guthrie who was dying of 'Huntington's Chorea'. Guthrie could barely speak . All he could do was give a name of his own song. Dylan says he knew them all and whatever Woody asked he played him.
Dylan really knows and loves popular music and talks in an interview with Sam Shepherd as well as in others of tens of groups I myself and I suspect most people never heard of. In another interesting piece someone asks him about contemporary songwriters and surprisingly he names Shel Silverstein as a real favorite. Also Randy Newman. And he mentions a couple of Paul Simon songs like 'A Bridge over Troubled Water' but then says that Simon has written a lot of flack. But who hasn't?"
I in general believe the Interviews are very interesting when Dylan talks about what he really loves , the Music, and how he makes it and plays it. In one interview he says that he has to play a certain time each day, but that he cannot do twelve- hour practice sessions like a Segovia 'There is a bit about the born- again Dylan which I found a bit distrubing , but I did not find him talking about his alleged reconversion to Judaism. Supposedly one topic he has pretty much avoided is his parents and parental home in Hibbing.
Dylan talks about his songwriting, about how he often throws out the most inspiring lines.
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