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Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1974-2006 [Hardcover]

Clinton Heylin
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 1 2010

The second of two volumes, this companion to every song that Bob Dylan ever wrote is not just opinionated commentary or literary interpretation: it consists of facts first and foremost. Together these two volumes form the most comprehensive books available on Dylan’s words.

            Clinton Heylin is the world’s leading Dylan biographer and expert, and he has arranged the songs in a continually surprising chronology of when they were actually written rather than when they appeared on albums. Using newly discovered manuscripts, anecdotal evidence, and a seemingly limitless knowledge of every Bob Dylan live performance, Heylin reveals hundreds of facts about the songs.

            Here we learn about Dylan’s contributions to the Traveling Wilburys, the women who inspired Blood on the Tracks and Desire, the sources Dylan “plagiarized” for Love and Theft and Modern Times, why he left “Blind Willie McTell” off of Infidels and “Series of Dreams” off of Oh Mercy, what broke the long dry spell he had in the 1990s, and much more.

            This is an essential purchase for every true Bob Dylan fan.


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Review

"Clinton Heylin, master explicator of the Dylan canon, has however improbably, sorted it all out for us through the tangled '80's and beyond, completing what he started in Revolution In The Air. The book is essential."  —Jonathan Lethem



"Heylin is at once a researcher, explicator and archivist . . . Taking Dylan's songs in sequential order of composition might seem to be an improbable project, but Heylin documents it with such attention to detail that one marvels at his provable and entirely correct timeline."  —Shepherd Express

About the Author

Clinton Heylin is the author of Revolution in the Air; Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades; Can You Feel the Silence; From the Velvets to the Voidoids; Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions; Despite the System; and others.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars July 25 2014
Format:Hardcover
A lot of interesting informations
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
If you are captivated by Dylan's lyrics and want insight into how so many of Dylan's songs came into existence, this is a great book. However, for some reason, the author takes any and every opportunity to slam Dylan's relationship with the Grateful Dead whenever possible. For instance, Jerry Garcia "left his ham sandwich long enough to inspire Dylan," Dylan and The Dead's sets in the 80's were "mercifully short," Robert Hunter is compared to "Bernie Taupin" and characterized as the luckiest lyricist in the world because Dylan recorded two of his songs. Bernie Taupin? WTF? Stella Blue, Jack Straw, Row Jimmy, Wharf Rat? Maybe the author wasn't fond of the Dead, but Dylan certainly was and was a close friend of Jerry's. The author certainly knows his Dylan, but he comes off as a dick with the casual disdain with which he writes off the relationship between Dylan and the Dead that lasted for thirty years. The author should be dosed with 2000 micrograms of crystal wash and dropped in the front row of the Winterland circa 1977.
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Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars We Just Saw It From A Different Point Of View Sept. 22 2010
By Dr. Thomas E. Parker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you're reading reviews about "Still on the Road" it probably means you're pretty serious about Dylan's work. I am, and that's why I read Clinton Heylin's books. He does the kind of research I can't do, so I appreciate the light he throws on Dylan's work. His books are so rich that I usually read them twice to find the things I missed the first time 'round, and "Still on the Road" is no exception. There's a whole lot to value in Dylan's later work, often dismissed as inferior to his work from the mid 60's, and Clinton Heylin illuminates the gems of this period: songs like "Changing of the Guards," "Jokerman," "Blind Willie McTell," "Most of the Time," "Series of Dreams," and "Brownsville Girl." These songs, along with a big handful of others, hold their own with Dylan's greatest work on "Bringing It All Back Home," "Highway 61 Revisited," and "Blonde on Blonde." For us folks who are convinced that Dylan is one of the great writers and performers of the last half of the 20th century to the present, this book is a must.

So, why only 3 stars?

- Heylin's habit of second guessing Dylan about lyric changes, best versions of songs, and so on, is hubris. Dylan is the writer and performer, and though it is reasonable to question choices he makes, Clinton Heylin crosses over into making definitive pronouncements thereby placing himself in a superior position to Dylan. Uh ... really?

- Heylin's condescending dismissal of other writers about Dylan is irritating. For some reason he seems to feel he needs to put down these writers. What I mean is that he doesn't just disagree and present a different point of view, he insults them. What is gained by this?

- Heylin, like so many writers on Dylan, seems to think it's cool, or a mark of superior knowledge, to incorporate allusions to lines and phrases from Dylan's songs in his prose. Give it a rest. It's a bore (not to mention that it's very easy to do), and given that advertisers, editorialists, journalists and the like drop Dylan references like jelly babies at Beatles' concerts, this stylistic habit is tedious. English Composition 101 - put it in your own words.

- Why on earth Heylin spends a good portion of his discussion of "Brownsville Girl" discussing the earlier studio take "Dansville Girl" is beyond me. I assume it's because, according to Heylin, Dylan has a habit of rewriting his songs in ways that make the released versions inferior to the earlier studio takes. But most people will likely only have access to the released song, so it would seem sensible to discuss that version. This is a case where Heylin "decides" that Dylan was wrong and so takes it upon himself to substitute his preference for Dylan's. Come again? I'm familiar with both versions and I think, after maybe a hundred listens, that Dylan made the right choice by releasing "Brownsville Girl."

- The "Christian Period" ~ Heylin does an excellent job of showing, from "Street Legal" to "Modern Times," that the so called Christian Period was not a period at all. Dylan's work is soaked in Biblical imagery and reference, his sensibility has been Apocalyptic from as early as "Freewheelin'" and Dylan has always been a moralist of the prophetic type. The problem I had with Heylin's discussion of songs from "Slow Train," "Saved," and "Shot of Love" is that he goes on and on about the Biblical references in these songs. Sure, a certain amount is appropriate, but Heylin goes on at such length it seemed more like he was displaying his endless "rabbinical" knowledge of The Gospels and The Prophets. If I felt his long discursions on Biblical passages actually helped to understand the songs it would be okay, but to me it came off more as an opportunity for Heylin to display his knowledge of the Bible (I have a Ph.D. in Religious Studies). It might be worth noting that there are websites like Oremus that can search and find Biblical references quite easily. Heylin could have written all those pages with no Bible in sight. Of course I don't know if Heylin is well versed in the Bible, but the main point is that this whole section of his book was filled with long discussions that focus far more on Biblical passages than on Dylan's song. I skipped or scanned lots of this section.

Clinton Heylin's books are always a mixed bag, but at his best his work is full of valuable research and quite interesting commentary on Dylan and his work. If you are seriously into Dylan then you seriously ought to consider getting "Still on the Road," along with the earlier companion volume "Revolution in the Air."
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than the first volume Aug. 26 2010
By Jason - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The second volume in this two-part examination of every song Dylan ever wrote is a more entertaining read than its predecessor, perhaps because it covers periods of Dylan's career that have gotten less attention than his groundbreaking 60s work. Heylin has clearly done an immense amount of research and brings to light interesting facts about some of the more obscure songs in Dylan's catalog. What emerges is a fascinating glimpse into what motivated this extraordinary artist during the most tumultuous periods of his career.

Unfortunately, some of the problems present in the previous volume are here as well. The author has a tendency to make definitive statements even when the truth is far from certain, and he resorts to childish insults of others who do the same. There's also an uneven treatment of the songs--the focus of the book is on the writing process, but sometimes Heylin discusses the music and sometimes he doesn't. This can be frustrating for those who see Dylan's evolution as a performing artist as important as his songwriting.

Despite these problems, this is the only book that examines all of Dylan's most recent work, and although Heylin can be arrogant at times, he's rarely boring. This makes the book easy to recommend to fans of Dylan's late-period work.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Does Heylin even like Dylan's music? Feb. 20 2012
By J. E. BORNSTEIN - Published on Amazon.com
I'm serious when I ask if Heylin even likes Bob's music, as he seems to do nothing but second guess and put down his output. There is a lot of great research here, bringing to my attention songs that were just rumors, or snippets, and bringing forth as much information on them as anyone could find. That's what's great about this book; however, it gets docked multiple stars due to the constant second guessing on lyric changes, song selections on albums, and vocals performances. "Love & Theft" was a "disappointment"? Come on Clinton, you're so critical at this point and so Tangled up in Bob that I don't think you get much enjoyment from his music.

It's too bad, it could have been great, and it's a valuable reference work, but it's utterly frustrating.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You Were Ever Wondering....... April 4 2013
By John Hollabaugh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What was in Bob's mind...this will help.....What is Bilnd Willie McTell all about....look up any song from 74-06 an you will find out......
3.0 out of 5 stars If you're a serious Dylan fan, you need and want this. Nov. 24 2010
By Jerry Saperstein - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you're not a serious Dylan fan, you can live without this in-depth study (more or less) of every song Dylan wrote between 1974 - 2006.

Dylan has been a public figure for almost 50 years and my interest in him is casual at best. We lived in Minneapolis around the same time and, interestingly, shared a good friend in common. I generally like his music, but have never viewed him as a great poet, prophet or anything else other than as a talented entertainer.

Thus, this book - the second volume on Dylan's music by Clinton Heylin - is not intended for me.

It is interesting, fun to read and filled chock full of anecdotes, explanations (the veracity of which I cannot judge) of the origins of Dylan's songs, recording session dates and locations, supposed inspirations for the songs and so on. True Dylan fans will probably love it, although some have been critical of Heylin.

I found it interesting, but containing far more than I wanted to know.

Jerry
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