On the heels of yesterday’s smashing post on Allen Ginsberg’s reading list — 361 people saw it on FB! 1 Like! — we now bring you a very fine article that Magnus passed along our way: Bob Dylan’s reading list! (Kinda)
It’s called “Ten Books Bob Dylan Digs” and it comes to us from a blog called Days of the Crazy-Wild. These are books that Dylan personally gave shout-outs to either in his Chronicles memoir or interviews and such.
You’ll find usual suspects like “On the Road” (Dylan notes, astutely, that the book can mean less and less the older you get) and “Bound for Glory,” but was particularly stood out for me was “Last Train To Memphis” by Peter Guralnick.
IMO Guralnick is the greatest musical biographer out there, and his “Dream Boogie” about Sam Cooke is a (tragic) must-read. It’s a profound meditation on growing up African-American in the south, and how that experience can influence one’s worldview and, in Sam’s case, inject a destructive element of nihilism into said worldview.
What makes Guarlnick so good? Well, unlike other music writers – ahem – he doesn’t couch is intellectually insecurity in Phd mumbo-jumbo.
Rather than penning mind-numbingly verbose poseur-speak aimed at alleviating failure-to-attain-tenure-at-Bard angst, Guarlnick calmly and objectivity states the facts without unnecessarily embellishment, and, more importantly, without telling the reader what to think from his lonely tower of academia.
Guarlnick knows his stuff. He’s a fan of music and human relationships, first and foremost, and has no interest in drawing parallels between Elvis’ addiction to painkillers and Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia.
In fact, the scene documenting Elvis’ death and the discovery of the body in Guarlnick’s “Careless Love” – which looks at the final two tragic decades of the King’s life – is one of the most poignant and heart-wrenching in all of non-fiction.
So kudos, Bob. We’re on the same page here.
[In other news, we also received the Dylan Companion in stock the other day. It’s a compilation of artists, writers, and journalists riffing on Dylan and his art.
It includes a cool anti-Dylan poem written by some guy who was mad at his hero for becoming Born Again.]