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Showing 1-10 of 28 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 55 reviews
on May 27, 2017
The author inserts himself in the story where its appropriate simply because he is part of the story. As the author states early on, he had the good fortune of living in the NY neighborhood when Dylan showed up. I absolutely recommend the tale this author meticulously unfolds about the life and times of this incredible talent. I don't think I'll ever listen to Dylan"s music with the same ears again... I have been influenced by Bob Dylan since 1963, so its saying a lot for me to make these comments.
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on December 3, 2016
This is an EXCELLENT book! Critical analysis of not just Bob Dylan's songs but also his many influences. Analysis is given from mainly historical, cultural, and political perspectives; and I feel like I get so much more Dylan's music after reading it. An added bonus is that the author analyzes and references many obscure Dylan songs and influences which has broadened my listening and knowledge options.
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on February 9, 2017
Although Wilentz's penchant for inserting himself into the narrative is tiresome, this collection of essays is absolutely indispensable for any student of Bob Dylan. Is beautifully written and full of wonderful surprises.
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on April 27, 2012
No, no, no it ain't insightful soap opera. Those who want the ins and outs of the `real' life Dylan that hides behind closed doors and under the dirty sheets of living a life, well, it ain't here, babe. Missing is the in depth analysis of those who once knew a vagabond minstrel that they heard mutated into a mystical lyrical maestro who sung of esoteric life philosophies. No, no, no this work does not flow with the juices of an exciting tabloid expose. No, no, no, it ain't here babe. It's more about the music and the man, man. It does, however, examine the musical metamorphosis of a popular music icon with what some view as an unfortunate scholarly flair. In case it isn't clear, I enjoyed the book for what it is. It was what I was looking for and I give it 5 stars for delivering the goods.
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on December 2, 2010
Having followed Bob Dylan's music for now over 30 years, it sometimes seems that it has come out in a place and in a way that is completely unexpected. This book does an interesting job of knitting together the various phases and stages of Dylan's performing and recording career, along with some historical digressions on the musicians that appear to have influenced Dylan's songwriting and music. Wilentz has a good ear and has spent considerable time and attention to the music played on the records and in concert.
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on April 3, 2014
Best bio so far. Liked that there was a lot of focus on the world gone wrong era. a must read for the Dylan fan. Also recommend the ratso book On the Road with Bob Dylan and No Direction Home.
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on November 8, 2010
I had high hopes for this extensively-researched volume by Sean Wilentz. After reading scores of biographies and analyses of pretty much every aspect of this overexposed-yet-reclusive pop icon, I expected insight that would transcend all that came before it. I'm not sure why I expected that. Maybe it was the blurb from Al Kooper on the cover. Anyway, this is a pleasant read, and it does come from an angle that is unique in some ways. You will recognize a lot of Dylan's story if you have kept up with it via the available sources and especially his own Chronicles, Volume 1. If you want the actual inside story (really just a few pieces of it), read that. Also see the Greil Marcus book about the Basement Tapes sessions. If you are an avid follower, Bob Dylan in America will be mildly enlightening. If not, this is one of the few books you should bother to read on this complex artist. It might make believers out of those who think his best work is behind him.
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on June 11, 2015
Excellent history book especially for a Dylan lover like me.
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on August 8, 2015
very good
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on November 2, 2010
It's not that much about Dylan, yes, it goes into the influences. But really, I don't think I really needed to read the endless pages of every possible originator of Stagger Lee. More Dylan, less microscopic detail? The early years where the author had first hand experience were nice, but it ultimately became a history of music thesis in the end. For detail, it was fascinating, however, to learn that Blind Willie McTell was born/grew up near the southern town where I grew up. (There used to be a McTier's furniture store when I was a teenager in the same town) It's not very far from Erskine Caldwell's Tobacco Road, James Brown is the local favorite. (The greatest living artist in America was also born in the area, but you will be hard pressed to find a local that might know that piece of trivia.) But had the book not had such a personal/local history to me I would have given up much earlier than I did. What I learned in this book had little to do with Dylan, but more with the great black artists of a by-gone era. I worked as a social worker just after Civil Rights, and knew first hand the power (and the lack thereof) of the powerless. What magnificent creators. But what I really wanted was a book about Dylan. Putting his name on the cover sells books, tho.

I am a serious Dylan fan, have all the original records, the "hi fi" to play them on. etc etc And so I wanted a book about him.

I bought Robert Reich's new book at the same time about the financial crisis, and it's much better written.

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