“The Dylanologists: Adventures in the Land of Bob” by David Kinney is a book I’ve been looking forward to reading for a while.
I’ve never written a review of a book before, but when offered a “review copy” a couple of weeks back I thought: “What the heck.. I’ll do it my way*, if I can get a kindle version (I’m a kindle-a-holic).”
So this is not a standard book review at all, rather a long article on the subject “Dylanologists” inspired by the book. I will refer to the book throughout the article, and pull together my thoughts at the end in the “Summary” section. It is indeed a great book, not only for Dylan fans. It is fun, informative & full of warmth for (most of) it’s characters. Highly recommended for anyone even remotely interested in Bob Dylan. My wife has assured me that she will read it (and she is not even close to being a Dylan fan).
I’ve read my fair share reviews of “The Dylanologists: Adventures in the Land of Bob” and some of them starts out with some kind of confession. This happens when the reviewer himself is (or was) a rather hard Dylan fan, and feels the need to shed a light over his own relationship to Bob Dylan.
Here is my confession
David Kinney starts with his own confessions, and he sure comes off like a hardcore Dylan fan himself. He introduces us to the “Dylanologists” & Dylan’s somewhat strained relationship with them.
“There’s a whole world of scholars, professors, and Dylanologists, and everything I do affects them in some way, I’ve given them life. They’d be nowhere without me”
~Bob Dylan (to Mikal Gilmore Sept. 2012)
There are many good reasons Dylan feels this way & reading the book will help you understand Dylan. It will also help you understand the Dylanologists.
“It is of course a terrible burden on the living hero figure that other people invest their dreams in him or her. One has to make life decisions for oneself…. it doesn’t help to be carrying the half-formed dreams of millions on your back. Hero-worshippers inevitably expect their hero to be their slave.
~Paul Williams (“Dylan – What Happened?” – Nov 1979)
Well, I try my best
To be just like I am
But everybody wants you
To be just like them
~Bob Dylan (Maggie’s Farm – 1965)
Maggie’s Farm & Like A Rolling Stone (Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965):
Types of Dylanologists
Inspired by the book I’ve created a way to categorize “Dylanologists”.
A dylanologist may be any combination, usually not one or all.
1. The Pilgrims
The Mecca for Dylan pilgrims is off course Hibbing, Minnesota, where the young Robert Zimmerman grew up (1947-59).
- Great story about Bob & Linda Hocking, so sad that they had to close down -> Zimmy’s
- The most fascinating part is the story of Bill Pagel. His mission in life is to preserve “anything Dylan related”.
He told Kinney: “…. Kind of makes me sound obsessive, doesn’t it? That’s the final phase, when you start collecting houses. Maybe that’s when they should lock you up.”
For us Dylan obsessives his website is a vital source of information: boblinks.com (the design is horrible, but content is king)
2. The Dylan scholars
The people that know “everything” about Bob Dylan
The included mind-map only shows people Kinney wrote about, there are off course many others. My “top 3 Dylan writers” list includes Michael Gray, Clinton Heylin & the late Paul Williams, so I was naturally very pleased to read about the two who are still alive. I also love the Dylan related works of Andrew Muir & Peter Stone Brown.
Here is a great post from Peter including the story when he played “It’s all right ma” to the therapist:
It’s interesting to see that all three (Michael Gray, Clinton Heylin & Andre Muir) agree that his performances (albums included) took a fall just after the new millennium started. Andrew Muir found his way back (at least partly). I don’t think Heylin is back in the saddle, and I know Gray isn’t.
This substantial tour [Japan 2014] has gone well: there have been some comparatively good, and certainly interesting, vocal performances – showing something closer to a willingness to sing than in the past couple of years.
~Michael Gray (from his blog – Outtakes , April 2014)
3. The Stalkers/Garbage collectors/crazy ones
I was considering skipping this type, but it is a notable part of our dylanology. In fact just try googling “dylanology” or “dylanologist”:
So I needed to be include this “type”. No further comments.
4. The Collectors
Most of the Dylanologists are collectors. Almost everyone collects bootleg concerts & studio outtakes.
This ends part uno of my “different” mind-mapped review. Hopefully part two will be posted soon.
Part-two -> The DYLANOLOGISTS – a kind of review (part 2)
|Buy this GREAT book @ amazon:|
*My way.. is a very systematic approach: I read & highlight, I mind-map (using Xmind) after each chapter, I read related online articles & update the mind-map, I re-read the book & expand the mind-map & in the end I review the total mind-map. This particular mind-map ended up containing around 30000 words, pictures & web links (basically all my notes on this book). I will include bits & parts of this mind-map in the posts.