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Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1957-1973 (Cappella Books (Hardcover)) Hardcover – April 1, 2009
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"One of the most important volumes in the already groaning Bookshelf of Bob" Houston Press
"A magnum opus that anyone curious about, fascinated by, and devoted to His Master's Voice will want to read and ponder." Jonathan Cott, author, Dylan, and editor, Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews
"An exhaustive look at one of the 20th century's best and prolific songwriters uncovers tons of info about these timeless tracks." Cleveland Scene
"An excellent supplement to a good Dylan biography . . . including Heylin's highly empirical Behind the Shades." Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
"Comprehensive . . . obviously written very lovingly." PopMatters.com
"Revolution in the Air, like its precursor, Ian McDonald’s Revolution in the Head about the Beatles' recordings, is an invaluable guide to have by your side as you traverse this monstrous body of work." NUVO
Top Customer Reviews
Nothing really new here - no really new insights, but mostly a repetition of material found elsewhere already and treated in a more reliable and considerably more scholarly way in books like Michael Gray's The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia or Oliver Trager's Keys to the Rain.
Add to this Heylin's rather condescending tone, everybody else's research (in his eyes) seems to be faulty and cannot be trusted - just savor this rather pompous statement:
"Needless to say, the Internet has also provided endless opportunities for the unpublishable, self-appointed "expert" to pontificate on the man and his art, but I have felt little inclination to fuel their self-importance, with a citation here." (p. 451)
As condescending (or outright arrogant) Heylin is in (several) statements like these throughout the book whenever other people's research/work is concerned, he obviously has no scruples whatsoever to exploit the websites of these "unpublishable" peons (in his eyes) rather extensively, presenting their findings in a way that suggests that these are his own without crediting his sources appropriately, thus rendering his book as academically rather useless, even bordering on plagiarism.
A particularly blatant example is to be found on p. 136. Heylin writes that "Judy Collins, in a 1996 email regarding the two songs, confirms that 'the Seven Curses are related to Anathea'" and extensively quotes from this email, creating the impression that he had been the recipient of it, whereas he "lifted" this email (without credit to his source and proper attribution) verbatim from [...] whose webmaster (and not Heylin) had received it from Judy Collins back in 1996.
It is this obvious lack of scholarly ethics (not crediting sources that one considers "below par" while at the same time using and exploiting them for one's own gain and "glory") which exposes Clinton Heylin as what he claims others to be: a basically "unpublishable" (his book is rather boring to boot), mostly self-appointed "expert".
Do yourselves a favor and do not fuel Heylin's self-importance by buying this hyped and pretentious product (except for a comparison to those by Michael Gray, Oliver Trager, or Derek Barker's Bob Dylan: The Songs He Didn't Write and Todd Harvey's The Formative Dylan -- all of those present an unbiased scholarly approach devoid of the obvious hybris found throughout Heylin's book, a clear distinction between these authors' own research with properly attributed and credited citations from sources and websites consulted and not merely "exploited" without proper credit as in Heylin's case).
To sum it up: Pretentious and hyped in advance but found to be scholarly totally unreliable (sources not credited properly in academic fashion). Sadly disappointing....
Similarly, he has so many axes to grind with other Dylan writers in his preamble to "Revolution In The Air," you feel he wants a fight with them more than to speak the truth about his subject -- which is Dylan, not those other writers.
Still... this book is so rich. First, it concentrates on the songs. Not "the legend." And it mostly leaves critical comments about specific songs behind, instead just detailing circumstances and background behind their writing. That levelheadedness is valuable in the hothouse bubble of Dylan criticism.
And this book just reminds you where the hothouse really was -- in Dylan's inspired brain. Especially in the 60s which is most of what this first volume covers. (A second volume is planned.) It focuses your attention on Dylan's amazing crawl from copying Woody Guthrie to... replacing him, if you will. An amazing journey.
And the journey is all about those songs. I found it a fascinating read and very hard to put down. I recommend the book highly, even with the caveats about Heylin's personality mentioned above.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Selective memory in action there given many of you clearly feel the same...Read more
a kick-ass Dylan biographer; unyielding, tenacious and honest in the research
of his...Read more
The author's massive ego gets in the way.