A CAST OF CHARACTERS
Bob Dylan is a musical shape shifter. In his long career he has used many guises including Little Richard, Woody Guthrie, Jesus and Judas (at the same time), rock’n’roll Shakespeare, video pioneer, motor cycle Houdini, Country singer, Blues revivalist, Gypsy bandleader, Born again Hellfire Christian, Never Ending Tourist, wilfully controversial performer, Radio Disc Jockey, Oscar winning songwriter, Frank Sinatra style balladeer and Nobel Prize winner.
Spencer Leigh has undertaken a mammoth task in attempting to capture this mercurial and often controversial artist. The author is well up to the task and he is forceful in his approach to the subject. He also gives insight into his own experiences as a Dylan fan, one of which cost him a girlfriend. We all have a different idea of Dylan in our minds. Spencer Leigh uses his long running radio programme’s interviews with many musicians to expand the dichotomy of thought both for and against Dylan. There is a separate book to be found in here too, in which the author looks for comparisons with historical real life mavericks in the Arts. He does invite you to get to the second part of each chapter if this is not ‘Your cup of meat’ and you just want Dylan all the way. A second cast of characters is also to be found in these pages including Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, Robert Shelton, A J Weberman, Ronnie Hawkins, The Band, John Stewart, Emmylou Harris, and Johnny Cash and many more. There are some things I do not agree with in this book such as the confrontation on the UK tour. Who said what remains unproven as far as I am concerned. Interpretation of the lyrics is also a subjective area. What ‘She belongs to me’ or ‘Just like a woman’ is all about is up to the listener to decide. I am a lifelong Dylan fan and have most of the books written about him, most of the albums, and have seen him onstage in Liverpool, London and Las Vegas over the years. This 20/20 vision book will be added to the many I have about the man I consider the most fascinating singer/songwriter ever.
Brian O’Connell, Liverpool poet and keen Dylan fan