Want to Read About Dylan’s Work but Don’t Know Where to Start?
No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan. Written by NY Times journalist Robert Shelton, who was not only very knowledgeable of the folk scene in the early sixties but also knew Dylan personally. Drags a bit toward the end but serves as a good introduction to Dylan’s early work.
Bob Dylan, Performing Artist. Paul Williams was the founder of the rock & roll magazine Crawdaddy, and his opinionated Dylan books are a fun and breezy reads.
Song and Dance Man. Ready to kick it up a notch? Try Michael Gray’s book. I’m not sure I buy a lot of his comparisons of Dylan’s work with literature, but what do I know? I do think that overall the book provides some much insight.
Performed Literature. Betty Bowden, a literature professor, got on the Dylan train early, writing this brilliant book way back in the seventies. Betty long ago answered the tired question about whether Dylan was a poet or not. (Yes, this book is filled with English lit jargon, but still definitely worth a read).
Reading these books will provide a solid foundation for understanding the work. Of course, literally hundreds of other books are out there. Many are worth a read. Off the top of my head: The Formative Dylan, by Todd Harvey. The Nightingale’s Code by John Gibbens is another excellent, lesser-known book. Alias Bob Dylan Revisited, by Stephen Scobie. A Darker Shade of Pale, by Wilfrid Mellers (the reader needs to know some music theory to get anything out of it). All the Clinton Heylin books are enjoyable. Tim Riley’s Hard Rain is a good read. Although not about Dylan per se, Dave Van Ronk’s autobiography The Mayor of MacDougal Street provides a lot of insight into the early sixties folk scene (and is a fun read).
Are there any good websites about Dylan?
Most of the many, many websites dedicated to Dylan have fallen by the wayside. It’s a dirty rotten shame, a lot of good information is gone. But a few sites still exist.
- Expecting Rain
- Usenet Groups were early vehicles for people to discuss topics in the early internet days. Many of us old-timers remember the spirited conversions on rec.music.dylan. Edlis has saved some of the more informative threads for those years.
- Who Has Which Boot
- Who’s Who
- List of Books About Dylan
- The Dylan Atlas
- Roots of Bob
- Bread Crumb Sins
Know Anything about Fanzines Devoted to Dylan?
How About Podcasts?
Which Facebook Groups Should I Follow?
- Edlis Cafe. The Group where the hardcore fans lurk.
- Bob Dylan’s influences. This group is unfortunately lightly used. But it does contain some good information.
- Johanna’s Vision. Lots of informative posts.