Bob Dylan – The Songs He Didn’t Write: strongly recommended

December 10, 2008
Thanks to Johanna Moore:

”Regarding the Dylan books that you mention, I can strongly recommend Bob Dylan – The Songs He Didn’t Write.

“Yes, it’s a kind of encyclopaedia that you could dip into for facts, but still it is very readable for those who, like me, want to read it straight through.

“Sure, I was sceptical at first, thought maybe I’d better read another book about Dylan than one about a bunch of other people’s songs, but of course those songs are the basis of Dylan’s work and he has been inspired by them from his youth and throughout his career.

“Oftentimes when played in concert, the cover songs were treated with more care and respect than his own songs and most of the time turned out beautifully.

“Anyone with any interest in Dylan’s musical background and also anyone interested in more information about many of the songs played on Theme Time Radio Hour should certainly read this book.

“There are a couple of (mostly very minor) errors, but to be fair to the author, with a book so full of facts, this is bound to happen. Generally, it’s very well written and researched.”


Jerry Schatzberg catalogue: a handsome must-have for collectors – Dylan Bookshelf #140

November 26, 2008
Proud Central hasn’t produced a new catalogue for its exhibition of Jerry Schatzberg’s Blonde On Blonde-era Dylan photographs now showing at its gallery near Charing Cross station.

But it is selling the next best thing: Bob Dylan par Jerry Schatzberg is a catalogue produced for very similar Paris shows at Galerie Dina Vierny and Galerie Luc Bellier in 2006.

Its 46 images, a pretty accurate record of the current London show, are prefaced by a four page introduction (in English and French) by the photographer – The Dylan I Knew.

Proud is retailing the handsome 79pp catalogue for £15. It’s a beautifully produced artefact and a must-have for Dylan collectors.

Bob Dylan par Jerry Schatzberg is the 140th book added to my groaning Dylan bookshelf.

Gerry Smith

Free issues of Judas! magazine

November 4, 2008
The Dylan Daily was a keen supporter of Judas! It was a stimulating, attractive Dylan quarterly magazine, expertly edited by Andrew Muir. It burned brightly for 20 issues, before closing in January 2007.

If you missed out, here’s your chance to acquire back issues; all contain high quality writing.

Publisher Keith Wootton is now offering free copies of the following issues:


All you pay is postage. Shipping costs vary depending on destination, but (for the) UK he charges a flat £12.00.

Judas! was a formidable achievement – a fine body of Dylan writing, and a source of pride for all concerned. It’s highly recommended. But act quickly – when they’re gone, they’re gone.


Gerry Smith

Forever Young: delightful – Dylan Bookshelf #139

October 30, 2008
Forever Young is a new children’s book in which illustrator Paul Rogers visualises scenes from the lyrics of the classic song from Planet Waves, with other references from across the Dylan catalogue.

It’s a delight – children of all ages will love it.

In case you miss the Dylan references hidden in the pictures, Rogers kindly spells most of them out at the back, with the help of a couple of pages of thumbnails. If you spot more than half without cheating, count yourself a remarkably alert Dylan guru.

Forever Young by Bob Dylan, illustrated by Paul Rogers (Simon & Schuster Oct 2008, large format hardback, 36pp, £12.99 – discounted at

Forever Young is the 139th book added to my groaning Dylan bookshelf.

Gerry Smith

New Dylan cover for free magazine

October 27, 2008
Collectors will be searching out a new Dylan cover – albeit a back cover – on the latest (ie Sept/Oct) issue of HMV Choice, the retailer’s in-store magazine.

The Dylan cover uses a mid-‘60s (polka dot shirt) portrait by Dale Smith, with the overprinted extract from A Red, Red Rose, the Robert Burns poem used by HMV in their My Inspiration promo campaign.

The inside back cover has a portrait of, er, Joan Baez, from the same promo campaign.

Gerry Smith

Dylan on Dylan and I’m Not There – heavily discounted

October 22, 2008
Thanks to Martin Cowan:

“I thought Dylan Books readers would like to know that branches of HMV are currently offering Jonathan Cott’s book, Dylan on Dylan, for £3 (RRP £8.99) and the DVD of I’m Not There as part of their 3 for £20 promotion.”

(And Fopp, HMV’s recently acquired subsidiary, is also discounting the single DVD version of I’m Not There – to £8 the last time I visited a Fopp store. Gerry Smith)

Paperback edition of The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia

October 15, 2008
Updating his Bob Dylan Encyclopedia for the new paperback edition, Michael Gray took the opportunity to add new entries covering major recent events and product in the Dylan world.

Gray’s new edition reflects the widening array of Dylan-related activity, assessing product as varied as a CD – Modern Times, an art show – Drawn Blank, and two major DVD releases – I’m Not There and the Other Side Of The Mirror.

For the new material, Gray employs his well-established technique of mixing straight reporting with tough critical assessment. You might not always agree with him, but his combative tone consistently challenges you to think through your own opinions.

Apart from its intrinsic value, the new edition – which should be on any Dylan fan’s bookshelves – serves as a reminder of Gray’s pre-eminence as a Zim commentator.

Long before it became fashionable, Gray demonstrated, single-handedly, why Dylan is a great writer, to be considered alongside the giants of serious literature.

Song and Dance Man, Gray’s ground-breaking study from 1972, demonstrated to the first wave of Bobfans just why Dylan was special – why he was marching well in front of the trailing line of rock musos with whom he’d hitherto been associated.

Countless Dylan fans are indebted to Michael Gray.

Gerry Smith



NEW: paperback Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, with updates, out tomorrow

Continuum publishes the paperback edition of Michael Gray’s Bob Dylan Encyclopedia tomorrow, in both London and New York. The text has been updated by new entries and amendments to many of the entries in the hardback. To keep the price down, the new edition doesn’t include a CD-ROM.

Here’s how The Dylan Daily greeted the hardback edition:

“The Encylopedia majors on its author’s unparalleled expertise, his critical judgment and a ready intelligence and authorial finesse…in three quarters of a million words, he paints a massive canvas. Over 730 pages, its daunting breadth of coverage and sheer level of detail is deeply impressive… destined to be the most important Bob Dylan book, bar none.”

* New entries:

Blues [2006]
Bob Dylan: The Collection [2006]
Bob Dylan: The Drawn Blank Series [2007]
Carthy, Martin
Dennis-Dylan, Desiree [1986 – ]
Dylan [2007]
Dylan, last solo concert by [1965]
Haynes, Todd [1961 – ]
I’m Not There [film, 2007]
Lerner, Murray [192? – ]
Man Without Papers, The [TV drama, 1965]
Modern Times [2006]
Other Side Of The Mirror, The [film, 2007]
Paradise Cove [film, 1999]
Ronson, Mark
65 Revisited [film, 2006]
21st Century Dylan songs written for films
White, Jack

* Updated entries:

Alk, Howard
Alvin, Dave
‘Am I Your Stepchild?’
American Civil War in World Gone Wrong, the
Animals, the
Aufray, Hugues
Ball, Gordon
Barker, Derek & Tracy
Berry, Chuck
Betts, Dickey
Blowin’ In the Wind
blues, external signals of Dylan’s interest in
Bob Dylan Greatest Hits
Bob Dylan Greatest Hits Vol. II
Bootleg Series Vol.5
Bridge, The
Bringing It All Back Home
Brown, Richard Rabbit
‘Brownsville Girl’
Bruce, Jack
Bruton, Stephen
Campbell, Larry
Campbell, Mike
Carmichael, Hoagy
Charles, Larry
Chronicles Volume One
Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem
Clapton, Eric
Cohen, John
co-option of real music by advertising, the
Cross, Billy
Dennis, Carolyn
Diaz, Cesar
Domino, Fats
Don’t Look Back
Drawn Blank [1994]
Dunn, Tim
Dylan [1973]
earliest extant recordings, Dylan’s
Elliott, Ramblin’ Jack
Epstein, Howie
Estes, Sleepy John
folk music, American, black
Freeman, Denny
Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, The: withdrawn early version
Fremerman, Elana
Fuller, Blind Boy
Garnier, Tony
Gleason, Ralph J.
Goldberg, Barry
Goldstein, Harvey
Grateful Dead, the
‘The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar’
guitars, Bob Dylan’s acoustic
Guthrie, Woody
Haggard, Merle
Hammond, John
Hammond, John Jr.
Harrison, George
Helm, Levon
Hendrix, Jimi
Herdman, John
Herron, Donnie
Hibbing rock’n’rollers
Highway 61 Revisited
Hinton, Nigel
Horowitz, David
Howlin’ Wolf
Humphries, Patrick
Hunter, Robert
Ian & Sylvia
‘In Search of Little Sadie’/’Little Sadie’
Jackson, John
James, Elana
Jean, Wyclef
Johnnie & Jack
Jones, Mickey
Jones, Norah
Kalb, Danny
Kegan, Larry
Kershaw, Doug
Kimball, Stuary
King, Clydie
Kooper, Al
Kramer, Daniel
Kweskin, Jim
LaFarge, Pete
Lesh, Phil
Levy, Dan
Lightfoot, Gordon
Lightnin’ Hopkins
Like A Rolling Stone
Lomax, Alan
‘Love Henry’
McTell, Blind Willie
Madhouse On Castle Street, the
Marcus, Greil
Marsalis, Wynton
Mayall, John
Maymudes, Victor [1935 – 2001]
Memphis Minnie
Meyers, Augie
Mitchell, Joni
Muddy Waters
Muir, Andrew
Muldaur, Maria
Murphy, Elliott
musical accompanists to Dylan, other
Nelson, Paul
Neville, Aaron
nursery rhyme on Under the Red Sky
Pagel, Bill
Pennebaker, D.A.
‘People Get Ready’
Petty, Tom
Presley, Elvis
Poe, Edgar Allan
Quintana, Charlie
Raney, Wayne
Ray, Dave
Receli, George
Richards, Keith
Ricks, Christopher
Rimbaud, Arthur
Rinzler, Ralph
Rivera, Scarlet
Rosen, Jeff
Rotolo, Suze
Sahm, Doug
Savakus, Russ
Scaduto, Anthony
Schatzberg, Jerry
Scheff, Jerry
Sedgwick, Edie
Self Portrait
Sexton, Charlie
Sinatra, Frank
Smith, Warren
Spoelstra, Mark
Springs, Helena
Stanley Brothers, the
Stanley, Ralph
Stewart, Dave
‘Tangled Up In Blue’
Taylor, Mick
Tedeschi, David
Tench, Benmont
Time Out Of Mind
Thompson, Toby

Drawn Blank catalogue (UK) – then there were three: encore

September 23, 2008
I followed up Ken Crouch’s tip and sourced a catalogue from Smart gallery, Harrogate.

As its full title, The Drawn Blank Series: Bob Dylan Limited Edition Graphics, indicates, it catalogues the collection of prints which has been on sale at 40-plus UK galleries since Saturday 14 June.

It’s a small subset of the catalogue of original paintings exhibited at London’s Halcyon Gallery (and covered in the much bigger Halcyon catalogue) – only 10% of the original canvases were turned into limited edition prints – but is beautiful, desirable collectable.

The structure of the Limited Edition – prints are available in 6 sizes/bundles – is clearly outlined. It’s published by Washington Green in association with The Times newspaper.

Gerry Smith



In addition to the various editions of the Prestel catalogue published for the Chemnitz exhibition (detailed recently on The Dylan Daily), there are two Halcyon Gallery catalogues – a small freebie pamphlet (A5, c10 pics, 24pp) and the big coffee table hardback (oversize, 300+ pics, 288pp, £39.99).

Many thanks to Ken Crouch in Wells, Somerset for details of a third (highly collectable) UK variant:

“Went to see the Dylan art exibition in Bath today; visitors to the this site should pop along, it’s free. I couldn’t afford £1,000 for a print but £10 for the catalogue is well worth the money… Bob playing in the background and free coffee… Well done to the organisers.

“The catalogue has all 29 prints, even the sets of four prints. Brief history of Dylan in the back. Andrew Motion reviews the prints. 12” x 8”, 72pp. Published by Washington Green Fine Art, on very good quality paper. Front white and back with Dylan’s sig on front and back. £10.”

Sounds worth chasing up – watch this space!

Dylan discography – now almost a constant companion

September 22, 2008

I find I’m referring more and more to Brian Hinton’s fine book, Bob Dylan Album File & Complete Discography (Cassell Illustrated, 464pp, pbk, £14.99, 2006).

A handy compilation, packed with hard information as well as informed opinion, it’s now almost a constant companion.

If you don’t possess a recent Dylan album guide, Hinton’s is well worth seeking out. I keep seeing the UK edition (blue cover), discounted to about £5, in major London retail outlets. Somewhat surprisingly, I’ve also seen the US edition (brown cover) for £5 in London remainder shops.

Bargain of the year!

Gerry Smith



New – Bob Dylan Album File & Complete Discography

Brian Hinton’s new book, Bob Dylan Album File & Complete Discography (Cassell Illustrated, 464pp, pbk, £14.99), is a welcome addition to my library: I’ll be referring to it often.

It’s the most detailed study of the Dylan oeuvre since Clinton Heylin’s Dylan – Behind Closed Doors was published ten years ago. It’s more detailed than the most recent competitor, Varesi’s The Bob Dylan Albums (2002). Oliver Trager’s Keys To The Rain – The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopdia also covers this ground (in less detail) but covers a multitude of other topics, too.

Hinton, biographer of Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell, among others, complements the discographical detail with an occasionally stimulating commentary on every track on every album, so the book is a uniquely systematic appraisal of Dylan recordings. And there’s a handy full-page reproduction of every album cover. So, Bob Dylan Album File & Complete Discography is worth having for its scope, utility and currency.

Reservations? I have a few. Concerning treatment, judgments and accuracy.

Whenever any rock writer starts to describe individual songs – “first we have the hushed drum intro…” – my eyes automatically jump to the next paragraph. This happened here, frequently. Writing about music in this fashion is like dancing about architecture, as the man said.

Once your text starts to judge creative work, you expect readers to demur. A sample couple of demurrals: Saved “sounds wonderful to contemporary ears…”; whaaa? It still sounds awful as ever to these contemporary ears. Hard Rain suffers because “it omits all of the duets with Joan Baez”. Hinton can not be serious? Surely?

In discussing Dylan’s songs, Hinton imports a succession of third party quotes, usefully widening the range of opinions in the book. But he frequently fails to explain who his commentators are – I happen to know of Jeff Tweedy and Derek Barker; many readers won’t. But “Paul Zollo” and “Robert Fisher”? Dunno, got me pal: Hinton’s drinking buddies? How do I know whether their opinions are worth considering?

More troubling are the errors. Spelling and grammatical errors might irritate only pedants, but they sow doubt about the accuracy of factual data. Checking the three small-format pages introducing Desire, I found seven spelling and grammatical errors. Elsewhere, glancing through the text, I stumbled across the World Gone Wrong photo shoot transposed from Camden Town to a neighbouring North London suburb, Crouch End. And Augie “Meters” playing organ on Time Out Of Mind. If these examples are typical, the book is seriously undermined.

And I wish I had a euro for every rock writer who claims that Dylan/The Beatles invented the concept album. Such albums had been around for years before Dylan ever entered a recording studio. Sinatra, anybody?

Bob Dylan Album File & Complete Discography: recommended, with reservations.

Gerry Smith

Just Like Bob Zimmerman’s Blues: “valuable”

September 22, 2008
Thanks to Michael Gray:

“Re your posting re rare early Dylan books: there is a fair amount of detail on both the Ribakoves’ book and the Dave Engel book in The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia.

“Since the entries are people-based, as you know, you’ll find the info on these books under the authors’ names.

“I describe Engel’s Just Like Bob Zimmerman’s Blues: Dylan in Minnesota as “one of the four or five most valuable books on Bob Dylan”: a view I stand by.”