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Bob Dylan Encyclopedia

Bob Dylan Encyclopedia

From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. Fans of Bob Dylan have a multitude of choices when it comes to biographies and
retrospectives, but author Michael Gray (Song & Dance Man #3: The Art of Bob Dylan) outdistances them all
with this voluminous collection of all things Dylan. Over the course of 823 pages Gray considers
everything from railroad imagery in Dylan's songs to his use of nursery rhymes, covering the topics
thoughtfully and thoroughly.
An entry on Rubin "Hurricane" Carter details the plight of the wrongfully jailed boxer immortalized in
Dylan's song "Hurricane," including not only a biography of the fighter, but details of the song's
recording and live performance.
Even the briefest of encounters merits an entry, such as when Neil Diamond challenged Dylan to top him
as he came offstage.
Dylan's reply: "Waddaya want me to do-go onstage and fall asleep?"
Gray's knowledge of his subject is seemingly boundless, yet he manages to maintain a critical eye and keep
Dylan's work in perspective. "Unbelievable," a song off Dylan's Under the Red Sky album, is called "a
hopeless piece of rockist sludge picked from the obscurity of the album and issued as a single. Almost any
other track would have fared better ."
While Gray is certainly a fan, it's this impartiality that fuels the book and gives it weight.
Insightful and entertaining, Gray's tome will broaden appreciation of the artist, his influences and his
legacy. 100 b&w illustrations.

From Booklist:

Rock 'n' roll historian and Bob Dylan authority Gray offers a detailed volume featuring entries related to
Dylan's life, artists who influenced him and were influenced by him, musical styles he created, and
background stories of specific Dylan songs and recordings.
Gray states in his preface that this work was prompted by friends and readers of his books
(Song & Dance Man: The Art of Bob Dylan, 1972, and its 900-page revised edition, 2000) who suggested that
he present some of that material in a more "reference-based" way.
Most of the entries are sketches of musicians, although Gray includes actors, authors, and other
These entries provide brief biographies and then explain how the people are connected to Dylan:
how they worked with him, influenced or were influenced by him, and which of his songs they performed or
The 3-page entry for Johnny Cash, for example, tells of Cash's defense of Dylan when Columbia Records
wanted to drop him, their first meeting at the Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village, and their duo
performances and recordings.
Gray's opinions and editorializing are prevalent throughout.
This makes for unique entries, such as Interviews and the myth of their rarity (in which he claims Dylan
actually averaged one interview per month over 40 years) and Dylan being "bored" by his acoustic material
1965-66, the myth of.
In fact, the entire book is written in a refreshingly relaxed manner, as befits a music critic and fan.
The volume comes with more than 100 black-and-white illustrations and an accompanying CD-ROM with a
searchable PDF version of the text.
Although there is another published Dylan reference work, Oliver Trager's Keys to the Rain: The Definitive
Bob Dylan Encyclopedia (Billboard, 2004), the current volume is a valuable addition to academic and large
public library collections, primarily because of Gray's knowledge and reputation as a Dylan expert. Steven


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