Bob Dylan fascinates me. The music. The man. The myth. The whole package is so intriguing, and mysterious. I’ve read many of the books on the walking, talking contradiction, including Robert Shelton’s No Direction Home, Anthony Scaduto’s early bio and Dylan’s own Chronicles, Volume 1. So admittedly, I approached LIFE magazine’s Bob Dylan: Forever Young with some skepticism; there were so many books on the man; where would this fit in?
It’s a slim entry, clocking in at just under 100 pages. (Clinton Heylin is just getting warmed up at that stage!) Suffice to say, it’s not exhaustive, but it’s not meant to be; it’s more appreciation than critical analysis, more overview than biography. However, it’s very well-written, with a strong narrative voice, and doesn’t gloss over Dylan’s legendary prickliness and missteps. Heck, you even get a little “Eat The Document” and “Renaldo and Clara!” It’s all fleshed out with some fantastic photography, making it a very personal story.
This is far from the definitive word on Dylan, but if you were asked by your parents, your children or someone from another planet, “Why do you think Bob Dylan so important?,” this book should be on the short list of where to point them for answers. It’s a nice little scrapbook and then some.
Sam Shepard sums it up nicely in his notes from The Rolling Thunder Revue tour: "The point isn't to figure him out, it's to take him in."
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