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Bob Dylan: A Biography

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Written at the dawn of the seventies by a former crime reporter and self-confessed "mafia expert", this book was not only the first serious study of Dylan's life and work, but also a landmark in the way popular music was written about. In addition to a Bob biographer's wish-list of interviews, Scaduto pulled off the remarkable coup of getting Dylan's full co-operation witho Written at the dawn of the seventies by a former crime reporter and self-confessed "mafia expert", this book was not only the first serious study of Dylan's life and work, but also a landmark in the way popular music was written about. In addition to a Bob biographer's wish-list of interviews, Scaduto pulled off the remarkable coup of getting Dylan's full co-operation without conceding an editorial veto. Dylan has read this book cover to cover and discusses its uncomfortable contents with the author at length! Though a veritable publishing industry has followed in Scaduto's wake, arguably no-one since has come as close to revealing the true nature of the man behind the shades. "Pioneering portrait of this legendarily elusive artist. Now in a welcome reprint, it's a real treat to read this still-classic Bobography."- Q ***** Five Stars! "A classic!"-Paul Williams, author of Bob Dylan: Performing Artist "Pioneers are often written out of history but never let it be forgotten that Scaduto was the man. It's scandalous that this book has been out of print for so many years. Its return should be greeted with dancing in the street."-Jimmy Rogan, from the foreword "The author's triumph was that ultimately he persuaded Dylan to talk."-Liz Thompson, editor of the Dylan Companion "I read it. Some of it is pretty straight, some of it exactly the way it happened… I rather enjoyed it."-Bob Dylan


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Written at the dawn of the seventies by a former crime reporter and self-confessed "mafia expert", this book was not only the first serious study of Dylan's life and work, but also a landmark in the way popular music was written about. In addition to a Bob biographer's wish-list of interviews, Scaduto pulled off the remarkable coup of getting Dylan's full co-operation witho Written at the dawn of the seventies by a former crime reporter and self-confessed "mafia expert", this book was not only the first serious study of Dylan's life and work, but also a landmark in the way popular music was written about. In addition to a Bob biographer's wish-list of interviews, Scaduto pulled off the remarkable coup of getting Dylan's full co-operation without conceding an editorial veto. Dylan has read this book cover to cover and discusses its uncomfortable contents with the author at length! Though a veritable publishing industry has followed in Scaduto's wake, arguably no-one since has come as close to revealing the true nature of the man behind the shades. "Pioneering portrait of this legendarily elusive artist. Now in a welcome reprint, it's a real treat to read this still-classic Bobography."- Q ***** Five Stars! "A classic!"-Paul Williams, author of Bob Dylan: Performing Artist "Pioneers are often written out of history but never let it be forgotten that Scaduto was the man. It's scandalous that this book has been out of print for so many years. Its return should be greeted with dancing in the street."-Jimmy Rogan, from the foreword "The author's triumph was that ultimately he persuaded Dylan to talk."-Liz Thompson, editor of the Dylan Companion "I read it. Some of it is pretty straight, some of it exactly the way it happened… I rather enjoyed it."-Bob Dylan

30 review for Bob Dylan: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Seth Kupchick

    This was probably one of the most important books that I ever read, and really pointed a way for me to go in my life, and since there are so few biographies that have done this, I don't feel like I can give it an accurate review, but I can try. Anthony Scaduto wrote about Bob Dylan in the early Seventies, so that his instant myth was kind of sealed, but he was still young by the standards of today, though not to the boomers, that thought you shouldn't 'trust anyone over 30,' and the biography ki This was probably one of the most important books that I ever read, and really pointed a way for me to go in my life, and since there are so few biographies that have done this, I don't feel like I can give it an accurate review, but I can try. Anthony Scaduto wrote about Bob Dylan in the early Seventies, so that his instant myth was kind of sealed, but he was still young by the standards of today, though not to the boomers, that thought you shouldn't 'trust anyone over 30,' and the biography kind of paints him like an old man, or if that's too harsh, an artist that has reached their prime, and while they still may know greatness, have seen their greatest days. I must've indirectly taken this notion to heart when I first read it as a freshman in high school, because I remember telling my Mother that 'Bob Dylan should have died in that motorcycle crash in 1966, right after he released 'Blonde on Blonde,' his best record, because there was nowhere to go but down there.' 'I bet he doesn't think that,' she said, a few years younger than Bob Dylan, but she made her point clear, and yet I felt I was right (and still do!) It pains me to say that Bob Dylan was the Sixties, and they were him, and everything after was just afterglow, that really didn't amount to much, even if he brought a lot of people joy, and I think that Scaduto unconsciously makes this clear in his biography, that is a real classic of the era, along with Thomas Wolfe's' "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," about Ken Kesey's journey across America on L.S.D. in '64 during the Presidential campaign, and what he admits was the greatest act of his life. Scaduto writes in a beautiful Sixties lingo, that Bob Dylan liked at the time, but as a caveat said 'I'm a Gemini, and I might not like it tomorrow,' but it's unforgettable prose, written in hip jargon, like the Brian Jonestown Massacre, and the 'Dig' movement tries to replicate, but will never get as 'right on!' It unflinchingly tells the metamorphoses of Bob Dylan from high school loser growing up in nowheresville in the Minnesota Iron country, moving to 'Dinkytown,' the bohemian neighborhood of Minneapolis, next to the University that he briefly attended and joined a frat (how Gemini!) and onto Greenwich Village. Scaduto interviewed everyone that knew Bob Dylan, and though he wouldn't admit it, Dylan knew everyone, at least as an outpost, or a crash pad, and they were all still young when he interviewed them and their memories of the Sixties were fresh, so that his concert at Berkeley in '64 during the free speech movement, almost reads as a holy experience, both in the prose, and the memories, that reflect the 'dig it' style of writing, so prevalent of the times, since disco had yet to takeover America, and the Sixties were trying to be remembered through lots of sad 'singer/songwriter/confessional' music by the likes of James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Joni Mitchell, that all had their roots in Dylan. I first read this book when I'd started going to a big public high school of 3,000 students after being in a class of 50 for almost a decade. I was trying to be anonymous like Bob Dylan, and I checked it out from the library, and I remember thinking that if that was all that I got out of switching high schools it would be enough. This book literally made me fantasize that I'd move to Greenwich Village when I graduated high school, and become a folk star at 'Gerde's Folk City.'

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    A decent biography of Bob Dylan. When I read it, I had a sense that I was getting an inside vieew of the phenomenon of Bob Dylan. Some interesting insights and some thought provoking ideas.

  3. 4 out of 5

    John Kube

    As a fan of early Dylan, this book was fascinating. It describes Dylan's early life and his struggle to find his character and who/what he wanted to be in the music world. He stole mannerisms from people. He made up stories about himself. He basically created the "myth" of Bob Dylan in the early days. He treated people poorly. He almost sounded bipolar in his actions at times. He didn't like the press, yet fed them stories when it suited him. Typical of a celebrity, really. They want attention, As a fan of early Dylan, this book was fascinating. It describes Dylan's early life and his struggle to find his character and who/what he wanted to be in the music world. He stole mannerisms from people. He made up stories about himself. He basically created the "myth" of Bob Dylan in the early days. He treated people poorly. He almost sounded bipolar in his actions at times. He didn't like the press, yet fed them stories when it suited him. Typical of a celebrity, really. They want attention, but at the same time, they don't want attention. Tough situation. To a lot of people, he was the voice of revolution. He didn't want that. He just wanted to be a singer/songwriter. He wrote important songs, but I think some people just looked to him for everything. Must've been hard and he struggled with it. Explained lyrics for some of his early stuff. Really enjoyed that. The amazing thing about this book, is that as much as Scaduto trashed Dylan in this book, Dylan read the entire thing before it was published and okayed pretty much everything. Even helped the author out by explaining some of his lyrics. I would recommend this book to any Dylan fan. It basically covers his first 10 years in the music world. Good stuff.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Thomas DeWolf

    I've owned a copy of this book for decades, but never read it. I picked it up a couple weeks ago and what a treat! Young Dylan, pre-Blood on the Tracks, the Village in New York City, Woodstock, Echo Hellstrom, Suze Rotolo, Joan Baez, the Van Ronks, the evolution of Bob from Hibbing to Highway 61. I was completely captivated... then to learn the author, Anthony Scaduto, had passed away just a couple weeks before I began the book. You done good, Mr. Scaduto. Thanks for this wonderful book, an impo I've owned a copy of this book for decades, but never read it. I picked it up a couple weeks ago and what a treat! Young Dylan, pre-Blood on the Tracks, the Village in New York City, Woodstock, Echo Hellstrom, Suze Rotolo, Joan Baez, the Van Ronks, the evolution of Bob from Hibbing to Highway 61. I was completely captivated... then to learn the author, Anthony Scaduto, had passed away just a couple weeks before I began the book. You done good, Mr. Scaduto. Thanks for this wonderful book, an important read for anyone who wants to understand the early evolution of Bob... the man who brought art to 60's rock and roll, and changed my world as well...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tom Schulte

    While this biography ends just after 1971's Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, Dylan's reluctant participation makes it probably about the best Dylan biography available. This covers his Minnesota roots, the impact of key relationships like Suze Rotolo, the relationship with Joan Baez, and the circling into his post-protest folk electric career from his roots as a Little Richard fan and general rocker. Ever the chameleon, this tells the story of a Woody Guthrie worshipper and imitator that dropp While this biography ends just after 1971's Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, Dylan's reluctant participation makes it probably about the best Dylan biography available. This covers his Minnesota roots, the impact of key relationships like Suze Rotolo, the relationship with Joan Baez, and the circling into his post-protest folk electric career from his roots as a Little Richard fan and general rocker. Ever the chameleon, this tells the story of a Woody Guthrie worshipper and imitator that dropped into the NYC Greenwich Village scene to dominate the protest folk movement only to walk away from feuling social change to become a pop icon. Much of Dylan's petulance and using of people puts feet of clay on the edifice, but the track-by-track notes on those classic early albums reminds us of what really matters. There is all the Dylan-Goes-Electric thing... here it is not that much of a surprise giving his rock background. Also, it seems the negative reaction was more about how he went electric, not that he did. The story here is that a pushy Bloomfield Blues Band pressured Dylan into allowing them to back him at a venu they could not get on: Newport Folk Festival. This resulted in a more or less impromptu electric debut with improper mixing and many of the vocal complaints merely being because Dylan couldn't be heard and it all would have went better had Dylan chosen a time and a place not dedicated to acoustic folk purism.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Benito

    This is one of the better Bob bios on the market, the best being Bob’s self-penned Chronicles: Vol. 1. Originally published in 1972 this could be said to be quite behind the times, ending as it does just after Bob’s 1971 New Morning LP. However having less of a time-period to cover than most bios means it can focus with much more depth on Bob’s youth and the first ten years of his career. Scaduto’s bio is unique in having been vetted and approved by Dylan whilst still in the manuscript stage, This is one of the better Bob bios on the market, the best being Bob’s self-penned Chronicles: Vol. 1. Originally published in 1972 this could be said to be quite behind the times, ending as it does just after Bob’s 1971 New Morning LP. However having less of a time-period to cover than most bios means it can focus with much more depth on Bob’s youth and the first ten years of his career. Scaduto’s bio is unique in having been vetted and approved by Dylan whilst still in the manuscript stage, something he didn’t normally do – reading books about yourself written by other people would feel understandably and decidedly weird after a while no doubt. Bob was moved to cooperate with Scaduto by fears (supposedly implanted by infamous Dylanologist and Garbologist AJ Weberman) that Scaduto would concentrate on the rumours floating around the Village in the early 70s that Bob was a heroin addict. He wasn’t, claims Scaduto. Bob met with Scaduto at his recording studio after reading the manuscript and argued over it, while later filling in gaps in the story so graciously that Scaduto admits he became suspicious of Bob’s motives - afraid he was trying to seduce him into a white-wash. Scaduto stood up for himself however – this is man that has written books on the Mafia after all, a point that apparently impressed Dylan. Most importantly Bob for the first time analysed his lyrical content, something he always claimed impossible when attempted by others. He paid particular attention to the violently surreal lyrics from Another Side of Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited, Bringing It All Back Home and Blonde On Blonde. A few years before meeting Scaduto, and while recovering from the motorbike accident that almost killed him at his Woodstock home, Bob had an epiphany that all those bitter tirades against folkniks and fallen women were actually the author subconsciously aiming his superbly sarcastic blade at his own cynical self. He says his [at that stage three:] later albums are also about himself but that at least by then he knew he was doing it. He feels he is now a more whole and less fearful person, and hence free to less cynically celebrate his life and his young family with albums like Nashville Skyline. Most interesting for Australian readers is the revelation that Bob worked on songs for the Blonde On Blonde album whilst on tour here, in particular whilst stuck in a hotel room in Perth, accompanied by Robbie Robertson from The Band and a woman who is only described as a ‘prominent Australian actress’ of the time whom he befriended through their mutual friend the Melbourne poet Adrian Rawlings. This mysterious actress (whose identity I am determined to discover) was hired by an un-named national publication to do a piece on Bob, but at Bob’s request she went off the idea - although she happily spills the beans for Scaduto under the condition of anonymity. This gets to the root of why this book works, and no doubt why Bob himself says, “I like your book. That’s the weird thing about it.” People really open up to Scaduto. Joan Baez talks very honestly and openly for a whole chapter, and old school friends tell tales such as how when a young Bob would get drunk at parties back in Hibbing, Minnesota they would trick him by saying, “Hey Bobby, Woody Guthrie’s outside, he says he wants to me you.” Little Bobby Zimmerman would then run out into the snow looking for his hero, calling his name and catching pneumonia while his friends chortled at the window. Scaduto also talks to the Manhattan musicians Bob put on his manager Albert Grossman’s payroll then piled into a car to drive across America with him – playing shows to itinerant labourers, Dallas university students (two months after JFK’s assassination) and bemused elderly poets whose addresses he’d tracked down, it all ending in a dope fueled mess in a pre-psychedelic San Francisco – and all the time with a jar labelled Marijuana on the dashboard refilled by picking up certain packages at post offices along the way. Bob himself talks extensively to Scaduto. This being less than a decade since he had been frightened by mobs calling him a messiah and then a Judas in quick succession, both of which he found equally terrifying – as he puts it, (to paraphrase) ‘Jesus was a messiah and look what they did to him!’ Hence Bob explain how he just wants people to realise he’s just a musician, and even if he was some kind of pop-cultural superhero then there’s no reason to follow him, constantly reiterating what he feels is his most important lyrical message, “Don’t follow leaders, and watch the parking meters.” Benito Di Fonzo 21 Jan. 2010 www.benitodifonzo.blogspot.com

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sutter Lee

    I haven't read this book since it came out in early 70s. Altho I liked it a lot, (it was the first book published about Dylan) I didn't really care for Dylan the person, after I read the book. Consequently, realized it's necessary to keep art separate from the artist. (Gauguin a good example.) There have been some terrific interviews, articles and books about Dylan over the years, allowing me, and other fans, to keep up with the many changes Dylan has gone thru, (altho we still don't know his en I haven't read this book since it came out in early 70s. Altho I liked it a lot, (it was the first book published about Dylan) I didn't really care for Dylan the person, after I read the book. Consequently, realized it's necessary to keep art separate from the artist. (Gauguin a good example.) There have been some terrific interviews, articles and books about Dylan over the years, allowing me, and other fans, to keep up with the many changes Dylan has gone thru, (altho we still don't know his entire history, and there are some mysterious, unexplained gaps; but famous people have no obligation to reveal anything about their personal lives. They are entitled to their privacy.) He is constantly a work in progress, and altho he may not be the most likable guy, still, I no longer think he's an asshole. I think he's been very open on some recent interviews I've watched on You Tube and even in some old footage of interviews I can see a playful imp messin with people's heads.

  8. 4 out of 5

    mr. chad

    I bought this book used. It held my interest for several pages, and then I began sneezing - damn allergies. I have had to put it down for now, and air out a bit. Crazy, but true. I'll get back to it in time. ...Several months later - I let it air out, and sure am glad I did.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rich

    One of the best bios of Bob

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    This edition info is different from mine (pub. in Canada) (c) 1971.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sum Doood

    I first bought this when it was new. I've re-read it since. It's still my favourite book on Dylan.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lysergius

    Probably still the best biography of Bob Dylan, at least up to then.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    The best Dylan bio and the one Dylan likes best (apparently).

  14. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    Awesome biography the best one around, besides, of course, Dylan's own penned "Chronicles".

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    He invented dylanology, which is basically digging through dylan's dumpster.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  17. 4 out of 5

    Heather

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jane

  19. 4 out of 5

    JJ

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tom Collins-Meltzer

  21. 4 out of 5

    Henry Sturcke

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rodrigo

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cris Lankenau

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marty McPeePants

  25. 5 out of 5

    BRANDON

  26. 4 out of 5

    andrea

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nancy L. Sullivan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Clemo

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christian Casper

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rob Salkowitz

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