The same can't be said for the two most recent books on Dylan. I don't necessarily know any more about Bob than I knew before I read Sean Wilentz's book, "Bob Dylan in America," and Greil Marcus's "Bob Dylan." Mr. Wilentz's book reminded me of the predominant problem with most books I have read about Dylan. The adoration gets in the way of clear, informational writing. I did find it interesting, though that "They're coming to take me away (ha-ha)" and "Rainy Day Women 12 and 35" have the same drumbeat.
Mr. Marcus, on the other hand, reveals himself as a sort of navel-gazing throwback to early rock journalism, always treading the fine line of taking itself too seriously. But then again, Marcus isn't a throwback. He's the real deal. His book is subtitled, "Writings 1968-2010." Suffice to say, the early stuff doesn't hold up. What passed for journalism in Creem Magazine over forty years ago is both naive, and out of date. He recalls the joy of coming home with a new album, tearing off the shrink wrap and putting it on the turntable... and listening to it, over and over again. He doesn't acknowledge accessorizing his listening experience with cannabis, but the passages in the book reek of it.
There are a lot of Dylan songs that frankly, I don't know what he is talking about. The songs have unfolded for me over time. Some have made me work a little to get it. And, honestly, I can't be objective about Dylan. He is, to me, an artist of such tremendous output and impact on those around him and on the planet in general. He has no equal and he never fails to amaze, impress and provoke. The first installment of what has been reported to be an eventual trilogy, "Chronicles, Volume One," reveals some of the intricacy, multiplicity and origins of its author. It may yet be the best book about Dylan.