8 page Introduction, 3 page Prologue, 431 pages of text, 6 pages of acknowledgments, 3 pages of credits, and 30 page index. There are a few b&w photos throughout the book-but very few, and they're very small.
Lately this has been a good time for fans of Bob Dylan wanting some keen insight into his music, his influences, and a bit on the man himself. Sean Wilentz has written a good book ("Bob Dylan In America"), about Dylan's music and it's place in society, Now, with long time Dylan observer/critic Greil Marcus, we have another book well worth reading. Marcus is the well known author of books like "Mystery Train", and "The Old, Weird America" among others.
There's probably no one else who has written about Dylan and his music with more insight,over a long period of time, than Marcus. As the title suggests he's followed Dylan, beginning in his early days up through to the present. Anyone looking for articles from 1965-67 will be disappointed. There's one article from 1968, with the real story beginning in 1970 with his critique on Dylan's "Self Portrait" album. From that point on it's all here, with more than half the pieces being written in the last thirteen years. This is because Dylan's later work, according to Marcus, is just as interesting, and the later work will bring into focus Dylan's earlier work. An obvious Dylan fan, Marcus nevertheless pulls no punches when Dylan falters. I've read Marcus' articles and reviews from the beginning, and vividly remember his scathing critique of "Self Portrait", with that now famous (infamous) opening question. At the time those four words said it all. But even when Dylan does falter, Marcus never really gave up on Dylan's work-he always looked for something positive, no matter how small or insignificant. But in this book Marcus admits he has sometimes convinced himself that something was good, when in reality it doesn't hold up-but to his credit he didn't change anything for this book.
The book is divided into eight periods, beginning with a short article from the "S.F. Express Times", and ends the timeline with a piece from the "Los Angeles Times", which is a small portion of an interview with Joni Mitchell. The last articles, in the Epilogue, are from 2008/9/10 on the Presidential election, which is a fitting way to end this collection. In between there are both short and longer reviews of Dylan's work ("The Basement Tapes", "Blood On The Tracks", etc.), insights into many of his songs from later period albums (take your pick), and a look at music itself ("Folk Music Today-The Horror", "Tombstone Blues", etc.), that were published in a number of periodicals. Marcus' easy going, sometimes pithy style of writing makes for good reading. His style is never dry or academic. His insights and criticisms are sometimes thought provoking and, agree with him or not, Marcus might make you re-evaluate pieces of Dylan's work. After reading this anthology you may form a different opinion toward, and have a deeper insight into, and appreciation for Dylan and his music.
No matter if you've listened to Dylan from the beginning, or have found him along the way, this book is full of valuable critiques of albums, the state of music, and anything else-for example, ("City Pages"-the Victoria's Secret commercial, "New West"-unconfirmed reports that the cover art for "Saved" was altered to show someone's hand giving Jesus the finger) Marcus sees fit to comment on. It's a virtual time capsule of writings from someone in a perfect position to do so. This is one of the best collections of writing on Dylan, and should be read by anyone wanting an insight into Dylan over 40+ years, by someone who had (has) the ability to get inside Dylan's music and then write about it, knowingly and intelligently.