Off Topic Messages

Clinton Heylin's Dylan books

Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:41 am

For those of you who have read Clinton Heylin's books about Bob Dylan, are they worth reading? The reviews on Amazon are generally favorable but the ones who don't like them seem to really not like them. I've read No Direction Home, Who is That Man, Like A Rolling Stone, Chronicles Vol.1, and Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan. I love to read obviously and would like some feedback on Heylin's writings. Also, Once Upon A Time: The Lives of Bob Dyaln. Is that one any good?

Since the last time I wrote I got the Complete Album Collection Vol.1, all of the Bootleg Series CD's and The Original Mono Recordings. Loving it all.

Re: Clinton Heylin's Dylan books

Tue Nov 26, 2013 9:53 pm

johngael wrote:For those of you who have read Clinton Heylin's books about Bob Dylan, are they worth reading? The reviews on Amazon are generally favorable but the ones who don't like them seem to really not like them. I've read No Direction Home, Who is That Man, Like A Rolling Stone, Chronicles Vol.1, and Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan. I love to read obviously and would like some feedback on Heylin's writings. Also, Once Upon A Time: The Lives of Bob Dyaln. Is that one any good?

Since the last time I wrote I got the Complete Album Collection Vol.1, all of the Bootleg Series CD's and The Original Mono Recordings. Loving it all.


Which Dylan titles are you asking about?

Re: Clinton Heylin's Dylan books

Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:57 am

Do you mean the two books about his songs, "Revolution In The Air" and "Still On The Road"? I've not read them other than to skim through, but my son has read them both from cover to cover. I thought that maybe my opinion, based as it is on reading too few pages, would be wrong - but he agrees with me when I said that Heylin really knows how to suck the fun out of a body of work. If Dylan ever lifted a line or even a word or note, from another song, Heylin is there like a bullet. His writing is very readable, and I'm not saying the books aren't worth reading, but if you believe him then Dylan is the biggest plagiarist going.

Here's an extract from his appraisal of Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

Dylan’s studio recording of "Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right" represents one of the most perfect fusions of tune, lyric, vocal, and musical performance in the man’s forty-five years as a recording artist. And he achieved it all in a single take. As perfect in its own, concise way as more ostentatious classics from more mature albums , "Don’t Think Twice" also stands as one of his more contentious works. The song owes interrelated debts to Paul Clayton and Bruce Langhorne (for its tune and accompaniment, respectively), neither readily acknowledged at the time. Only when those pesky biographers began picking at Bob’s biographical bones did a suspicion grow that this sublime song should perhaps have credits that read, "Dylan, arr. Clayton-Langhorne." The tune is unquestionably another traditional melody appropriated by that most casual of credit-givers. But it is more than that. Like the version of "House of the Rising Sun " he included on his debut LP, it utilizes a unique arrangement that a close friend had already adopted as his own. And this time the arrangement in question had already appeared on disc, and was incontrovertibly the source of Dylan’s melody (and some of the song’s nuance). Paul Clayton , a friend and sidekick, had spent his teenage years as a fastidious field collector , part of a team of students from the University of Virginia under the tutelage of Professor A. K. Davis. It was on one of his scouting missions that Clayton came upon "Who’s Gonna Buy You Ribbons (When I’m Gone)," a bastardized variant drawn from the "Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Horse " family of songs. In 1960 he recorded a syrupy version on Home-Made Songs and Ballads. Yet beneath the strong strings it is clearly the template for Dylan’s tune, though it would take Dylan twenty-five years to own up to the debt, via Biograph note-taker Cameron Crowe.

And it's like that all the way through as far as I can see, particularly in the second book where he tackles the newer material.

Re: Clinton Heylin's Dylan books

Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:14 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
johngael wrote:For those of you who have read Clinton Heylin's books about Bob Dylan, are they worth reading? The reviews on Amazon are generally favorable but the ones who don't like them seem to really not like them. I've read No Direction Home, Who is That Man, Like A Rolling Stone, Chronicles Vol.1, and Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan. I love to read obviously and would like some feedback on Heylin's writings. Also, Once Upon A Time: The Lives of Bob Dyaln. Is that one any good?

Since the last time I wrote I got the Complete Album Collection Vol.1, all of the Bootleg Series CD's and The Original Mono Recordings. Loving it all.


Which Dylan titles are you asking about?

Specifically, Behind the Shades (Revisited), Lyrics 1962-2001, and Recording Sessions.

Re: Clinton Heylin's Dylan books

Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:55 am

I like knowing the lineage of the music. It doesn't all have to be "acknowledged." All creators are indebted to others; it's what they DO with the source material that counts.

Some take too little credit, and that's how it stays; they get no credit.

rjm

Sent From My Phabulous Galaxy Note II Phablet Using Tapatalk 4

Re: Clinton Heylin's Dylan books

Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:26 am

johngael wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:Which Dylan titles are you asking about?

Specifically, Behind the Shades (Revisited), Lyrics 1962-2001, and Recording Sessions.


Heylin's published quite a few books:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinton_Heylin#Selected_works

I own these:
Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions 1960-94 (1995)
Bootleg: The Rise & Fall of the Secret Recording Industry (2004)
E Street Shuffle: The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (2012 / U.K. edition)

The Dylan session book is a handy and readable companion, while the second title is a reasonable account of how the rock 'n' roll bootlegging industry came to be, about 45 years ago. Dylan, of course, played a huge role.

With the Springsteen work, which I purchased with a promise of previously-unknown session revelations, I came to realize that Heylin knows much less than his writing implies. Unlike a profound music historian such as Ian MacDonald (see his remarkable Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties), who can credibly offer opinion or fact, or discuss theory with unassailable logic and authority, Heylin often misinterprets meaning, nuance and sometimes cannot even properly identify the genre of the song he is discussing.

Hope this helps a bit.

Re: Clinton Heylin's Dylan books

Thu Nov 28, 2013 4:44 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
johngael wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:Which Dylan titles are you asking about?

Specifically, Behind the Shades (Revisited), Lyrics 1962-2001, and Recording Sessions.


Heylin's published quite a few books:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinton_Heylin#Selected_works

I own these:
Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions 1960-94 (1995)
Bootleg: The Rise & Fall of the Secret Recording Industry (2004)
E Street Shuffle: The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (2012 / U.K. edition)

The Dylan session book is a handy and readable companion, while the second title is a reasonable account of how the rock 'n' roll bootlegging industry came to be, about 45 years ago. Dylan, of course, played a huge role.

With the Springsteen work, which I purchased with a promise of previously-unknown session revelations, I came to realize that Heylin knows much less than his writing implies. Unlike a profound music historian such as Ian MacDonald (see his remarkable Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties), who can credibly offer opinion or fact, or discuss theory with unassailable logic and authority, Heylin often misinterprets meaning, nuance and sometimes cannot even properly identify the genre of the song he is discussing.

Hope this helps a bit.

A bit. Not sure how you felt about the only Dylan book. A lot of books are handy and readable but in your opinion, is it worth getting?
Read the Bootleg book, found it informative and entertaining.
Not into Springsteen in any way, shape, or form so that really does me no good at all.

As far as his books about Dylan only, are any of them worth getting that you've read?

Re: Clinton Heylin's Dylan books

Thu Nov 28, 2013 4:49 am

johngael wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
johngael wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:Which Dylan titles are you asking about?

Specifically, Behind the Shades (Revisited), Lyrics 1962-2001, and Recording Sessions.


Heylin's published quite a few books:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinton_Heylin#Selected_works

I own these:
Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions 1960-94 (1995)
Bootleg: The Rise & Fall of the Secret Recording Industry (2004)
E Street Shuffle: The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (2012 / U.K. edition)

The Dylan session book is a handy and readable companion, while the second title is a reasonable account of how the rock 'n' roll bootlegging industry came to be, about 45 years ago. Dylan, of course, played a huge role.

With the Springsteen work, which I purchased with a promise of previously-unknown session revelations, I came to realize that Heylin knows much less than his writing implies. Unlike a profound music historian such as Ian MacDonald (see his remarkable Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties), who can credibly offer opinion or fact, or discuss theory with unassailable logic and authority, Heylin often misinterprets meaning, nuance and sometimes cannot even properly identify the genre of the song he is discussing.

Hope this helps a bit.

A bit. Not sure how you felt about the only Dylan book. A lot of books are handy and readable but in your opinion, is it worth getting?
Read the Bootleg book, found it informative and entertaining.
Not into Springsteen in any way, shape, or form so that really does me no good at all.

As far as his books about Dylan only, are any of them worth getting that you've read?


Yes.

Re: Clinton Heylin's Dylan books

Thu Nov 28, 2013 5:58 am

That's what I was looking for. Thank you.

Re: Clinton Heylin's Dylan books

Fri Nov 29, 2013 9:04 pm

I have the "Recording Sessions" book. I keep referring back to it from time to time and I say it is pretty good. Each time there is a Bootleg Series release with studio recordings, I go back to the relevant chapter and see what tracks didn't make the cut and which ones did. In many parts of the book he is highly critical of Jeff Rosen, who is General Manager of Dylan's music publishing and has had a very large say in songs that were chosen for Biograph and many other archival releases.

Apparently the Dylan camp does not think of Heylin as an enemy because they requested that he write the liner notes for the latest Bootleg Series release "The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 – Another Self Portrait (1969–1971)", which I think is one of the best and most illuminating of the entire series.

I have not read anything else from Heylin so I can only comment about that specific book. If you are wanting to read something that is almost 100% praiseworthy, then you do not want this book. Overall the tone is a little more negative than I like but I do feel he is being honest.

Re: Clinton Heylin's Dylan books

Fri Nov 29, 2013 10:53 pm

zane7570 wrote:I have the "Recording Sessions" book. I keep referring back to it from time to time and I say it is pretty good. Each time there is a Bootleg Series release with studio recordings, I go back to the relevant chapter and see what tracks didn't make the cut and which ones did. In many parts of the book he is highly critical of Jeff Rosen, who is General Manager of Dylan's music publishing and has had a very large say in songs that were chosen for Biograph and many other archival releases.

Apparently the Dylan camp does not think of Heylin as an enemy because they requested that he write the liner notes for the latest Bootleg Series release "The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 – Another Self Portrait (1969–1971)", which I think is one of the best and most illuminating of the entire series.

I have not read anything else from Heylin so I can only comment about that specific book. If you are wanting to read something that is almost 100% praiseworthy, then you do not want this book. Overall the tone is a little more negative than I like but I do feel he is being honest.

Thank you zane. I appreciate your honesty and direction.

Re: Clinton Heylin's Dylan books

Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:52 am

johngael wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
johngael wrote:For those of you who have read Clinton Heylin's books about Bob Dylan, are they worth reading? The reviews on Amazon are generally favorable but the ones who don't like them seem to really not like them. I've read No Direction Home, Who is That Man, Like A Rolling Stone, Chronicles Vol.1, and Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan. I love to read obviously and would like some feedback on Heylin's writings. Also, Once Upon A Time: The Lives of Bob Dyaln. Is that one any good?

Since the last time I wrote I got the Complete Album Collection Vol.1, all of the Bootleg Series CD's and The Original Mono Recordings. Loving it all.


Which Dylan titles are you asking about?

Specifically, Behind the Shades (Revisited), Lyrics 1962-2001, and Recording Sessions.


Behind the Shades and Recording Sessions are definitely worth buying - even though they are not flawless. Lyrics 1962-2001 has nothing to do with Heylin, but is is the Bible for the believers.