THE ESSENTIAL DYLAN BOOK COLLECTION
"Don't talk to me about perfection.
I ain't never seen none."
-- Bob Dylan 1979 --
The idea here is to present a listing of those books essential to the dedicated fan who wants access to a wide range of information about Dylan from the best sources. Obviously the selection of which books to include is rather subjective,
and others could have a different opinion. Any suggestions or different views are certainly welcome. For recommended books that have more than one edition, this page only lists the most recent one.
For other opinions about what's real and what is not, try posting a question on the Dylan conference, rec.music.dylan, consult the newsgroup's
FAQ, Part 2, or see the EDLIS reading list.
Dylan's own works
- Chester, Ron: Conclusions on the Wall: The EDLIS Bibliography
As long as you have net access, this is the handiest bibliography to use, unless you're looking for magazine articles, in which case you'll need to turn to Wissolik.
- Heylin, Clinton: Bob Dylan: Stolen Moments: The Ultimate Reference Book
Comprehensive chronology, although it unfortunately ends in Oct 1988.
- Michel, Steve: The Bob Dylan Concordance
Extremely handy for quickly locating that song that has the line that keeps running through your head. Saves an enormous amount of time searching.
- Dundas, Glen: Tangled Up in Tapes: The Recordings of Bob Dylan, 1994
- Krogsgaard, Michael: Positively Bob Dylan: A Thirty-Year Discography, Concert & Recording Session Guide, 1960-1991
Dundas & Krogsgaard are the two key references used on RMD to locate specifics on Dylan recordings & performances. Krogsgaard has also been compiling the details of all of Dylan's official recording sessions, as reported in The Telegraph #52, 53 & 55.
- Marsh, Keith Charles: DylanBase: A Comprehensive Discography Software Program
For those with a PC who prefer to use the software approach.
About Dylan's life
- Heylin, Clinton: Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades: A Biography, US
Probably the most popular biography among RMDers.
- Humphries, Patrick: Absolutely Dylan
Perhaps the best starting point for the beginner, as it covers so much ground: a biography, over 200 pictures including many color plates, a detailed chronology, discography, and bibliography.
- Scaduto, Anthony: Bob Dylan: An Intimate Biography, 2nd ed.
Although now over 15 years out-of-date, it earns a place on the list as the first major biography, and one that Dylan endorsed.
- Shelton, Robert: No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan, 2nd ed.
Although criticized for its errors, it is essential especially for the early years, and because of Shelton's own part in the Dylan story.
- Kramer, Daniel: Bob Dylan: A Portrait of the Artist's Early Years
The first Dylan picture book, and it remains the classic.
- Landy, Elliott: Woodstock Vision
Takes up where Kramer leaves off, with over 25 very personal pictures (many in color) of Dylan and his family in Woodstock. The many other pictures of the Band, the Woodstock Festival, and many other 60's personalities are a bonus.
- Lee, C P: Like the Night: Bob Dylan and the Road to the Manchester Free Trade Hall
The essential companion to the Live 1966 album with its detailed coverage of the 1966 UK tour, especially the famous Manchester "Judas" concert.
- Shepard, Sam: Rolling Thunder Logbook, Limelight ed.
A great behind the scenes view of life on the road, as Shepard participated in the Rolling Thunder Tour and the filming of Renaldo & Clara.
- Sloman, Larry: On the Road with Bob Dylan: Rolling with the Thunder
Another highly regarded tour book, by another participant in the Rolling Thunder Tour.
Influences & contemporaries
- Helm, Levon: This Wheel's on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the Band
- Hoskyns, Barney: Across the Great Divide: The Band and America
Two recent histories of long-time Dylan collaborators, the Band, both with lots of Dylan content.
- Heylin, Clinton: Bootleg: The Secret History of the Other Recording Industry
A fascinating study of the bootleg record industry, including many interviews of the producers of many Dylan boots, including Great White Wonder, which started it all.
- Schmidt, Eric von: Baby Let Me Follow You Down: The Illustrated Story of the Cambridge Folk Years
An excellent history of the Cambridge folk music days by one of the participants, complete with many pictures from those exciting times.
- Guthrie, Woody: Bound for Glory
- Klein, Joe: Woody Guthrie, A Life
Autobiography by Dylan's last idol, and another detailed biography.
- Bauldie, John: Wanted Man: In Search of Bob Dylan
- Gray, Michael: All Across the Telegraph: A Bob Dylan Handbook
- McGregor, Craig: Bob Dylan: The Early Years: a Retrospective, 1990
Three of the best collections of articles and interviews of Dylan and those around him.
- Gray, Michael: Song & Dance Man: The Art of Bob Dylan, 1981
One of the most often recommended studies of Dylan's songs, emphasis on extensive lyric analysis.
- Williams, Paul: Bob Dylan: Performing Artist: the Early Years, 1960-1973
- Williams, Paul: Bob Dylan: Performing Artist: the Middle Years, 1974-1986
A unique approach to Dylan's music, with emphasis on Dylan as the performer, rather than lyric analysis of his songs. Highly recommended by many RMDers.
- The Telegraph
"If magazines are best run by obsessives, The Telegraph is the best . . . The only other place you find fact-fetishism taken to this pitch is among the pages of The Cricketer."
-- David Hepworth in Q Magazine
To select an author, by last name:
To author or title index.
Or perform a keyword search.
-- to Table of Contents
Last updated: 3/26/99
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© Copyright 1995-99 by Ron Chester
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