The first of two volumes, this companion to every song that Bob Dylan ever wrote is by far the most comprehensive book on the words of America’s greatest songwriter. Here you’ll find not just opinionated commentary or literary interpretation, but facts, first and foremost. Clinton Heylin is the world’s leading Dylan biographer and expert, and he has arranged the songs — including a number that have never been performed — -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, he has uncovered a wealth of information about the songs, leaving no stone unturned in his research.
Here we learn that the middle verse of “Blowin’ in the Wind” was written much later than the first and third verses; that “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” was based on a complete distortion of the facts of the case; that “Mixed Up Confusion,” despite being Dylan’s first single, was composed later than many of his early masterpieces; that “Fourth Time Around” was a direct response to John Lennon’s “Norwegian Wood”; and much more.
Reading this volume will fundamentally change how you hear Dylan’s songs and will make you want to revisit the man’s lesser-known masterpieces. This is an essential purchase for every true Bob Dylan fan — and perhaps your most essential purchase, for, as a guide to the man’s work, it will never be surpassed.