Friday, March 30, 2012

5 titles that'll either make me detest - or like - Bob Dylan even more

"A poem is a naked person...Some people say that I am a poet."
- Bob Dylan

I've been listening to Bob Dylan's self-titled début album, which was released 19 March 1962. If I had to choose three words to sum up his voice and lyrics, they'd be these: Sparse. Raw. Evocative. Two weeks ago, I would have said: Irritating. Overrated. Nasal. What prompted this about face? Just the other week I realised that Bob Dylan released his début album 50 years ago. I was equal parts impressed and confused. Impressed because his appeal has lasted so long and had such a huge impact on the music industry. Confused because I don't understand why or how. I don't really know anything about the man, his music or his life. In fact, here's a confession coming up. This is what I know about Bob Dylan: He and Joan Baez were an item once. That's it. Truly. And that only because I remember my parents, years ago, discussing his relationship with Baez and how their careers took quite different paths. Quite a heated discussion, too. Mum was a Baez fan, dad was a Dylan fan. For some reason, their love of either artist never transferred itself to me. I could never see either of them as anything other than poets who also happened to play a guitar. Thanks to one of dad's brothers, I heard the album Infidel played too many times for my sanity to comprehend, and the only song that stuck was Jokerman. Today, I remember it fondly. At the time, I thought my ears would bleed. Seriously, there were days I wanted to yank the ribbon of the tape out and dance around the lawn with it if it meant I never had to hear it again. And then, over the weekend, I had this strange idea that it was perhaps high time I took Bob Dylan for a spin, and requested (by employing my usual on purpose/random selection process) a combination of titles about Dylan's life and his music, most of which I've finished, all of which made for fascinating viewing/watching/listening. All serving to show me how little I really knew about him. Like the fact that Dylan had roughly 27 albums between 1962 and 2001 and, that out of those (roughly) 220 songs, I know 13. (I can add a few more since I now have his first album). Some of those I only know because other people had versions. Do I like his music more, now? I'm not sure. Certainly I admire his ability as a writer. I don't want to make my mind up until the end. And so! 5 titles that'll either make me detest - or like - Bob Dylan even more :) (Although I'm leaning towards 'like,' but not quite willing to topple totally just yet).

Lyrics, 1962-2001 / Bob Dylan
This collection contains Bob Dylan's lyrics, from his first album, Bob Dylan, to 2001's Love and Theft.

  • "...Dylan here is honest, bordering on confessional--that is, if he is to be taken at face value, always a risky proposition with this elusive artist." (Booklist)

  • Tosca's comment: As any synopsis goes...this is SAD and three shades of pathetic. 600 pages worth of song lyrics and all you'll find about it in the catalogue is that it's a collection of lyrics from 1961-2001 *rolls eyes* Nothing about the quality of his writing.

    Bob Dylan : the essential interviews / edited by Jonathan Cott
    Thirty-one of the most significant and revealing conversations with Dylan have been compiled in this volume. Among the highlights are the seminal "Rolling Stone" interviews by Jann Wenner, Jonathan Cott, Kurt Loder, and Mikal Gilmore.

    Reviewer comment:
  • "Most of these interviews reveal little about Dylan that we don't already know simply because he refuses to allow interviewers, whom he teases like a cat does a mouse, to put words into his mouth." (Library Journal)

  • Bob Dylan : intimate insights from friends and fellow musicians / Kathleen Mackay
    Dylan's friends offer insight into the singer-songwriter's artistic genius and personality. This is an oral history of a major musician who played a significant role in America's cultural history.

    Bob Dylan : stories behind the songs, 1962-69 / Andy Gill
    Andy Gill assess the circumstances behind Dylan's most famous songs, tracing the artist's progress from young tyro folkie to acclaimed protest singer, and through the subsequent changes which saw him invent folk-rock and transform rock'n'roll with symbolist poetry, before retreating into country-tinged conservatism.

    No direction home [DVD videorecording] / Bob Dylan
    The story of Bob Dylan's journey from Minnesota, his early days in Greenwhich Village coffee houses, and his tumultuous ascendancy to pop stardom in 1966. Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg and others share their thoughts about the young singer who would change popular music forever. Includes never before seen footage, extensive interviews and rare concert performances. A Martin Scorsese picture. M - Suitable for mature audiences 16 years and over. Note: contains offensive language.

    (Image of Bob Dylan's self-titled debut album from

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