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The big Bob biographies just keep on a comin Scaduto 1971, Shelton 1986, Spitz 1989, Heylin 1991, Sounes 2001, McDougal 2014 Ian Bell s is bigger than all the others because it s a two parter, this volume which goes up to 1974 plus Time Out of Mind which goes up to 2013 So that s 590 pages plus 576 pages 1166 pages But Ian Bell is different He s not really written a biography at all, his 1166 pages are a long leisurely commentary on Bob s life He assumes you know the details and you ve The big Bob biographies just keep on a comin Scaduto 1971, Shelton 1986, Spitz 1989, Heylin 1991, Sounes 2001, McDougal 2014 Ian Bell s is bigger than all the others because it s a two parter, this volume which goes up to 1974 plus Time Out of Mind which goes up to 2013 So that s 590 pages plus 576 pages 1166 pages But Ian Bell is different He s not really written a biography at all, his 1166 pages are a long leisurely commentary on Bob s life He assumes you know the details and you ve turned up to see if any sense can be made of all these twists and turns So you need to read the best of the just the facts books Clinton Heylin s great Behind the Shades is my pick first and then join Ian Bell in the debriefing session Here we get 25 pages on whether Self Portrait is the first Americana album, why Dylan got writer s block in 1968, why people said he was a Woody Guthrie copyist in 1961 even though he sounded nothing like Woody, how Dylan tried so hard not to get dragged in to political sloganeering, why Blowin in the Wind is a bad song and so forth Once Upon a Time yeah, it s the first line of Like a Rolling Stone , but what a terrible title Also, out of the billion available photos of Dylan someone has chosen a real bad one for the cover The young Bob looks like he just threw your pet Chihuahua off the balcony Never mind This book is recommended for all graduate level Bobologists Wow, did I have a problem with this volume On one hand, I congratulate Bell for truly burrowing into the details of his topic, especially with research that is exhaustive and quite admirable On the other hand, if he could write a paragraph on a topic, his default mode was to write five, in a tediously verbose manner Let me provide a comparison a year ago, I read the Lewisohn vol I history of the Beatles, which is 1000 pp plus, and never did my attention flag, never did Lewisohn shirk the re Wow, did I have a problem with this volume On one hand, I congratulate Bell for truly burrowing into the details of his topic, especially with research that is exhaustive and quite admirable On the other hand, if he could write a paragraph on a topic, his default mode was to write five, in a tediously verbose manner Let me provide a comparison a year ago, I read the Lewisohn vol I history of the Beatles, which is 1000 pp plus, and never did my attention flag, never did Lewisohn shirk the research on his topic, and never did he overdo analysis of any particular matter In contrast, Bell s vol I on Dylan is about half the length of Lewisohn s vol I, and as my previous remarks suggest, this was a slog, and at some moments, I screamed enough and wanted to hurl the book against the wall In any event, I learned how to spot Bell s longueurs , and to skim accordingly, which made the experience muchsatisfying Yet, I do plan to read his vol II, just knowing that the going may not be as smooth as I would like An evening out for Paul Bryant Ian Bell was in town to open a display of his photography of rock musicians and I was lucky enough to get to talk to him.Paul, I m sure you are going to want to start with the bad news.Me Have you photographed Leonard Cohen Yes, a few times.Me And Bob Dylan Maybe half a dozen Me What do you think of Dylan s concerts Picture being at a Heston Blumenthal dinner It s cost you 500 The table is lovely, the view gorgeous, the menu looks fantastic And then you An evening out for Paul Bryant Ian Bell was in town to open a display of his photography of rock musicians and I was lucky enough to get to talk to him.Paul, I m sure you are going to want to start with the bad news.Me Have you photographed Leonard Cohen Yes, a few times.Me And Bob Dylan Maybe half a dozen Me What do you think of Dylan s concerts Picture being at a Heston Blumenthal dinner It s cost you 500 The table is lovely, the view gorgeous, the menu looks fantastic And then you get served up cheese sandwiches Not even special cheese sandwiches Bob Dylan s like that All the elements are there, but you get something else For a while I kept going to them figuring that I d go to the right one, but there isn t a right one Do you know his radio show Me NoHe had this radio show for a long time, it was in themes and it was witty, the guy s got a great sense of humour But he isn t willing to bring any of it to the table when he s performing He almost died in a car crash at one point and started acting like maybe presenting his music in a concert wasn t the worst thing in the world that could happen to him But it didn t last for long Meeting him was no fun either.Me So who do you prefer out of Dylan and Leonard Cohen I m Team Leonard Dylan gives nothing at his concerts Leonard gives everything He s respectful, he s.Paul, I will spare you the rave review of Leonard.You will be pleased to hear that there is good news The Ian Bell I talked to was erudicate and entertaining and informative.and is considering writing a book one day.It was THE WRONG IAN BELL So you can relax Maybe Bob s best after all More an extended essay about Dylan than a proper biography, Bells book is thoroughly engaging because of his voice This guy can write Sometimes in nonfiction, the reader willingly sacrifices turn of phrase for the sake of the content Here, the reader may find himself wishing he could rememberof Bell s terrific lines and apt characterizations I can t There are too many It s like trying to remember all the jokes in The Importance of Being Earnest He tells the story of Dylan s childh More an extended essay about Dylan than a proper biography, Bells book is thoroughly engaging because of his voice This guy can write Sometimes in nonfiction, the reader willingly sacrifices turn of phrase for the sake of the content Here, the reader may find himself wishing he could rememberof Bell s terrific lines and apt characterizations I can t There are too many It s like trying to remember all the jokes in The Importance of Being Earnest He tells the story of Dylan s childhood and ends with the release of Blood on the Tracks, all the while injecting his opinions of the songs, the times, and the man He s not slightly apologetic about this and his refreshing stance as an admirer of Dylan but no sycophant makes the book so engaging I read the last 200 pages in a single three hour sitting at the kitchen table as if they were the climax of an espionage thriller The book is as much a biography of Bob Dylan as it is of Bob Dylan if that sentence seems puzzling, it won t after a few chapters Bell has read everything about Dylan, heard everything he s ever recorded, and draws upon what must be a lifetime s worth of thinking about him to tell a story which he often punctuates with the question, Who does that He debunks the stories of Dylan lambasted as Judas for plugging in and does a similar service to the phrase voice of his generation a phrase no one will use again after reading this He properly dismisses Rainy Day Women as a bore and treats Visions of Johanna as the masterpiece it is and argues that The Times They Are A Changin and Blowin in the Wind are less anthems than poses So what if the reader disagrees Bell sometimes allows himself to make sweeping generalizations about America and its people So what, as long as he keeps us turning the pages Once Upon a Time is so much better than a straightforward biography because Bell knows that Bob Dylan and Bob Dylan have made such a traditional biography moot, or at least impossible without being wholly placed inside ironic quotation marks from start to finish Every reader knows that Dylan s own Chronicles is really namedChroniclesInstead, the reader is given long set pieces on a number of topics and events Minnesota, Newport, Suze Rotolo, John Hammond, Abe Zimmerman, Woody Guthrie, Albert Grossman, The Beatles, The Band, and a brilliant 75 or so pages on the great trilogy of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde Bell is wonderful when talking about Dylan s music and his ability to B.S people two skills that make his fans often grin as they say, There s only one Bob I m very much looking forward to reading the next volume Highly recommended The entirety of this book and part two, its counter half is summed up on page 492 It s a quote from a review of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 1962 When the legend becomes fact, print the legend That goes extremely well with the title of this book, Once Upon A Time because Bob Dylan, I believenow than ever, is a fairy tale I picked up this book at Greenlight Books in Brooklyn contemplating reading a whole bio of Dylan I ve read Elijah Wald s Dylan Goes Electric and loved The entirety of this book and part two, its counter half is summed up on page 492 It s a quote from a review of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 1962 When the legend becomes fact, print the legend That goes extremely well with the title of this book, Once Upon A Time because Bob Dylan, I believenow than ever, is a fairy tale I picked up this book at Greenlight Books in Brooklyn contemplating reading a whole bio of Dylan I ve read Elijah Wald s Dylan Goes Electric and loved it I loved the philosophy of Dylan it brought out to be who you want to be, do what you want to do, and who cares what anyone else thinks What sold me on Ian Bell s 563 page keep in mind, part 2, which begins in 1975, is about the same length bio was the opening scene the Judas scene from 1966 when Dylan went to England and someone yelled it out at him The beauty of his prose and fact checking in this scene and all the others is astounding It s as if Bell was there This book is a huge scape about American culture, Minnesota culture, NYC culture, and Dylan s culture of his own Bell covers the background of each place Dylan existed MN and NYC before diving into what was really going on with him while he was there I didn t know that Dylan disowned his faith he was bat mitzvah ed at 13 , said his parents were dead the same year he paid their way to NYC to see him perform at Carnegie Hall , and legally changed his name Bell discusses the anti semitism of Minnesota during Dylan s younger years and his parents and the support by ignoring the Jews of MN culture there at the time Bell also discusses, at length, American politics across the decades Also important to note that the entire book is footnoted extensively Bell s writing as a prose writer and as a journalist Bell was a Winner of the George Orwell Prize for journalism is admirable and wildly underrated I m not sure why this book isn t everywhere I underlined nearly the entire book because I couldn t stop myself.There is some favoritism among Dylan s records but that is also due to their popularity The time spent on Dylan going electric and his trio of albums Bringin It All Back Home , Highway 61 Revisited , and Blonde on Blonde outweighs the fact that Nashville Skyline is completely glossed over More time is later spent on John Wesley Harding and Blood On The Tracks , the latter an album I have yet to dive into although, of course, I know the hits I felt there was too much discussion of The Basement Tapes and Dylan s bootlegs releases through his labels over the years period But then again, what they meant and what we are supposed to decipher from Dylan from them is just as important to the fantasy Dylan built that Bell explores throughout the text Also, I picked up this book two weeks before going on vacation thinking it would be a perfect vacation travel read Then while I was away, Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and my Dylan Education took on a whole new meaning Interesting to note how much time Bell spends on discussing Dylan s relationships to poets like Ginsberg and Berryman whom he studied under, albeit briefly, at the University of MN The Nobel Prize is mentioned, the questioning of whether Dylan s work IS in fact poetry, and what other people have to say nay or yay on that matter is discussed at length for the last several pages of the book Bell passed away a year after both of the volumes were released I m sure he would want to provide an updated afterword for these texts now that Dylan has in fact won the Prize and to this day has ignored it Say what you will about his lyrics translating poorly to the page That you don t like his voice That Dylan is not a writer, and that Tarantula Dylan s only book of poetry that is widely panned as awful and word vomit is a blip After reading this volume not only have I realized that I KNOW I will read the second volume, I have a muchinteresting relationship with Dylan as a fan I didn t know Visions of Joanna was about his heroin addiction and I didn t know that he even had one I had no idea how large the character of BOB DYLAN was such a real character to Dylan himself I could spend time typing up quotes from this book but I ll let you make up you re own mind Some people want to read 1,000 pages on Robert Moses s o to my partner and I ll try But I d rather read 1k pages on Bob Dylan, perhaps the greatest Performance Art As Life this world will ever know I m a fan of Bob Dylan, I ve always enjoyed his work I thought this book would be an interesting account of the things that put him together After less than 100 pages, though, the feeling that comes to mind is tedious I guess I don t care as much as I thought I did.Count this one as a DNF for me. |READ DOWNLOAD ♱ Once Upon a Time: The Lives of Bob Dylan ♋ Half a century ago, a youth appeared from the American hinterland and began a cultural revolution The world is still coming to terms with what Bob Dylan accomplished in his artistic explosion upon popular cultureIn Once Upon a Time, award winning author Ian Bell draws together the tangled strands of the many lives of Bob Dylan in all their contradictory brilliance For the first time, the laureate of modern America is set in his entire context musical, historical, literary, political, and personalFull of new insights into the legendary singer, his songs, his life, and his era, this new biography reveals anew the artist who invented himself in order to reinvent America Once Upon a Time is a lively investigation of a mysterious personality that has splintered and reformed, time after time, in a country forever trying to understand itself Now that mystery is explained It took me a while to get used to Bell s writing HIGHLY stylized and idiosyncratic, his prose readslike poetry or conversation at times you realize quickly that you re not reading a traditional stodgy biography.The other element of Bell s writing one must get used to is his recursiveness This book is NOT linear or chronological in any way If hard pressed, I m certain I cold try and plot out the chapters and how they correspond to forwards and backwards in Dylan s life But that would b It took me a while to get used to Bell s writing HIGHLY stylized and idiosyncratic, his prose readslike poetry or conversation at times you realize quickly that you re not reading a traditional stodgy biography.The other element of Bell s writing one must get used to is his recursiveness This book is NOT linear or chronological in any way If hard pressed, I m certain I cold try and plot out the chapters and how they correspond to forwards and backwards in Dylan s life But that would be to lose so much of the fun We begin in 64 65 talking about Dylan going electric and all I know is that 300 pages later I till seem to be reading about the BUILD UP to 65 even though I read about the writing of Like A Rolling Stone and the actual Royal Albert Hall concert for over 100 pages previous It s a mess But obviously so is the mythology that Dylan has constructed The structure and style of Bell s writing eloquently mirrors Dylan s early fumbling around with identity creation, his love and theft of things past and future, and the storybook lunacy Dylan asked us to believe once upon a time the beauty is that we DID believe it and continue to because we need to and because Dylan s story is our storythan it s his Man this book started out very good but my interest waned at the mid section on out I think if I was a Bob Dylan fan that wasfamiliar with his songs, perhaps it would have rocked my world of experience I did like how the author wrapped Dylan s story with the history and the sociological aspects of the time I must say though that I don t think that the author really even likes Bob Dylan, he constantly referred to him as basically being a liar I never felt I got any closer to understandi Man this book started out very good but my interest waned at the mid section on out I think if I was a Bob Dylan fan that wasfamiliar with his songs, perhaps it would have rocked my world of experience I did like how the author wrapped Dylan s story with the history and the sociological aspects of the time I must say though that I don t think that the author really even likes Bob Dylan, he constantly referred to him as basically being a liar I never felt I got any closer to understanding anything about Dylan after reading the book, he is still a mystery to me I ended up wondering why did he even write a book about a man that he doesn t like In my reasoning, I would want to write about someone that I am interested in, even at least a little bit That being said, I must say that I ended up bored and ready for the book to end Plenty of interest and if he could have edited 600 pages into 180 he would have had a decent book It rambles, it repeats, it puts forward a thesis here and a thesis there and wears its intellectualism proudly if misguidedly I m not sure which Ian Bell wrote this He s obviously a fan and obviously well read in Dylanology But it all seems like an overblown student dissertation to me Not helped by the fact that I ve listened to it on audio book with an actor who obviously doesn t know much ab Plenty of interest and if he could have edited 600 pages into 180 he would have had a decent book It rambles, it repeats, it puts forward a thesis here and a thesis there and wears its intellectualism proudly if misguidedly I m not sure which Ian Bell wrote this He s obviously a fan and obviously well read in Dylanology But it all seems like an overblown student dissertation to me Not helped by the fact that I ve listened to it on audio book with an actor who obviously doesn t know much about Dylan and whose impression is awkward and comical I ve been interested in it at times I ve been bored by it I haven t always agreed with the book but it hasn t involved me enough to care much either way I m glad I listened to it all the way through and evenglad that I don t have to listen to anyof it