The ultimate biography of the musical icon.
Bob Dylan is a music hero to generations. He’s also an international bestselling artist, a Pulitzer Prize–winning author, and an Oscar winner for “Things Have Changed.” His career is stronger and more influential than ever. How did this happen, given the road to oblivion he seemed to choose more than two decades ago?
Dylan’s 72, and this final act of his career is more interesting than ever—yet the classic biographies like Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades (first published 1991, updated 2001) and even his own Chronicles: Volume One (published 2005) came too soon to cover this act.
Now this groundbreaking biography digs deep into Bob Dylan lore—including subjects Dylan himself left out of Chronicles: Volume One. Dylan: The Biography moves beyond analysis of lyrics or well-worn biographical facts to focus on why this beloved artist’s American odyssey has touched so many souls—and how both Dylan and his audience have changed along the way. What happened during the past two decades to transform a heroin addict into one of the most astonishing literary and musical icons in American history?
Through extensive interviews and connections with Dylan’s friends, family, sidemen, and fans, Los Angeles Times journalist Dennis McDougal builds a new understanding of Dylan, as well as the real story behind the myths. Was his romantic life, especially with Sara Dylan, much more complicated than it appears? Was his motorcycle accident a cover for drug rehab? What really happened to Dylan when his career fell apart, and how did he find his way back? To what does he attribute his astonishing success? McDougal’s interviews and meticulous research offer a revealing new understanding of these older questions—and of the new chapter Dylan is writing in his life and career.
The legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan matures from "feckless, foolish poseur" to calculating, canny poseur in this gleefully acid-etched biography. New York Times scribe McDougal (The Last Mogul) chronicles Dylan's project of " building a character that will sell'" by transforming himself from a middle-class Jewish boy with nice parents in Minnesota into an ersatz orphaned carnie and hallucinatory folk-rock oracle (and later into a country-western balladeer and born-again Christian). Along the way, he argues, Dylan stole the personas and stylings of other entertainers, and plagiarized tunes, words, and paintings (sometimes copyrighting them as originals). Amid makeovers and appropriations, the truly authentic constants of Dylan's character in this critical portrait are a hard-nosed drive to succeed, self-centered betrayals of intimates, incessant misrepresentations and voracious appetites for booze, drugs, and women. McDougal eschews gushing exegeses of lyrics and other staples of Dylanolatry; while he acknowledges a body of great music and perceptively analyzes its resonance, he's happier tossing jibes. ("A tale told by an idiot-savant on PCP" is his review of Dylan's novel Tarantulas.) Few of his revelations are novel, but McDougal presents his caustic indictment with energy and panache.