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The Lyrics: 1961-2012 Hardcover – November 1, 2016
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“This Nobel acknowledges what we’ve long sensed to be true: that Mr. Dylan is among the most authentic voices America has produced, a maker of images as audacious and resonant as anything in Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“The Nobel Prize in Literature confirms his status as something more than a songwriter of a kind with those who preceded him. For those who follow him closely, savoring his witticisms, poignant observations and the unexpected word at precisely the right time, the acknowledgment is long overdue, with all respect to Messrs. Murakami, Roth, Sondheim and others. Sentence by sentence and verse by verse, Mr. Dylan’s body of work is worthy of maximum celebration.” —Jim Fusilli, The Wall Street Journal
“The Nobel committee got this right—Dylan’s ongoing achievement in American song is a literary feat to celebrate in this gaudiest of ways.” —Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone
“He was the rebel, the healer, the bard in blue jeans and oversized shades who sang a generation through war and peace, past the perils of unrest and self-complacency. . . . And now Dylan has entered that pantheon, shoving against the boundaries of the definition of ‘literature’ just as he pushed past so many borders in music.” —Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Bob Dylan has released thirty-eight studio albums, which collectively have sold over 120 million copies around the world. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature and has been awarded the French Legion of Honor, a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor. His memoir, Chronicles: Volume One, spent a year on the New York Times bestseller list.
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There aren't annotations, or essays, or anything like that. It is just very simply a collection of the lyrics to use as a reference, or to page through and read for pleasure. The lyrics are presented very nicely, in a large font, with each song getting its own page or pages if it's length requires more than one. The songs are presented in the order they appeared in on the album they were released in, with b-sides and other releases collected at the end of the section for the album that came out closest to when they were written. Each album has a title page with art from the album presented in black and white, and a page showing Dylan's hand written or typed draft of a song from the album. In terms of layout and content, it is almost just like the 2002 lyrics collection, only with the much needed update of 10 years of additional material. If you liked that book, you know basically what you're getting here.
It is not 100% complete with everything he has written... I noticed that Marchin' to the City, a favorite track of mine that I think has only been released on Tell Tale Signs, was not included. The book does include many of the songs that he's written that weren't on his albums, though, and while there might be a couple obscurities missing, you will find a ton of great stuff anyway. As far as the claim that this collection features lyrics that have been newly edited by Dylan, I didn't find any yet, but I haven't read every lyric in the book or compared them all to earlier versions. I'm a big Dylan fan, but not a Dylanologist that spends his life studying every detail, so I look forward to the articles by those people which I'm sure are forthcoming that will examine the lyrics that have been changed.
As far as supplemental material, multiple versions of the songs, color art, and extras like that, the large Dylan lyrics book from a couple years ago had more of those things. However, it was a gigantic, massive book, and it also cost a couple hundred dollars more than this one, depending on when you bought it. Personally, although that collection is beautiful, the size is an impediment for me. If you want a collection you can actually read, that one is awfully heavy and inconvenient. This is the one I would get.
But in the meantime, if you want a book collecting the work of our greatest living songwriter, here it is, beautifully presented in a high quality volume. Doesn't get much better than that.
Having this book in front of you and turning the pages one by one as the song goes on is a real pleasure and makes you fully understand why he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Look, visually it's a fine book, but as I said, if your only job is to give the lyrics, no excuses, don't screw that up early and often.