By David Kinney
Simon & Schuster, $25.00, 241 pages
My initial reaction to this book was something to the effect of, “Oh no, not another book about Dylan!” It turns out that this entertaining book is not so much about Bob, however, as it is about his fanatic and somewhat looney fans. These are people whose goal in life is to attend every possible Dylan concert, re-trace his childhood, analyze every line of every song by their hero and, most of all, to get some sort of personal recognition from old Bob. The slightest head nod, a thumbs up sign, a fifteen second conversation, almost anything will suffice. The various people portrayed in the book have collected scores of bootleg Dylan tapes and rough drafts of song lyrics written in tattered notebooks. The intellectuals in the group do extensive research on Dylan’s lyrics, revealing that this sentence came from Jack London, or that reference was from the Bible and so on. For quite a while, I found myself suitably entertained by all of this, but ultimately the endless tales of people who seem to care more about Bob than their own lives became depressing and a bit wearing. The author seems to never have spoken to Dylan’s brother David – whose involvement in the Blood On the Tracks album is an interesting story of its own – or to Bob himself, or his various wives. In the end, Dylan remains the unknowable enigma, the role that he seems to prefer and even cherish.
Reviewed by Dick Weissman