The Dead Straight Guide to Bob Dylan. Nigel Williamson, Red Planet.
If you are a slave to the devil like us, then you will probably have an answer to who is the best rock ‘n’ roller of all time. Is it The Beatles who wrote nearly 200 songs and practically defined the Swinging Sixties? Or perhaps the greatest live band of them all, The Rolling Stones? Elvis Presley will have his advocates and although some of his music is not of the finest quality, his influence cannot be denied. Yet, lingering in the background like a sexual predator, is a man who has written over 400 songs, recorded 40 studio albums and still, at the age of 74, is performing 100 gigs a year. That man is Bob Dylan, who I think is the ultimate singer/songwriter. Bob is something of an enigma. Everyone knows his music. And yet very little is known of the man himself.
If you are a Dylan virgin or have enjoyed a few dusty records of his, found in your parent’s (or even grandparents) collection then The Dead Straight Guide is a good starting point in becoming a Dylan expert. The first part of the book comprises of an excellent yet concise biography covering the rockstar’s journey from Minnesota to the Greenwich Village folk scene and his rise to global domination. It charts his ups and downs and numerous comebacks.
The second part of the book is a comprehensive guide to his 40 studio albums and numerous live recordings. I like that the book covers his various films and I enjoyed an interesting section on the “New Dylans”; the various singers who over the years have been hailed as Bob’s successors. I would reccomend this book even if you don’t like Dylan, it’s impossible to not admire a man who wrote such classics as All Along the Watchtower (covered by Jimi Hendrix) and the ultimate folk anthem Blowin’ in the Wind. Because Dylan is for everyone.