cover image Dylan: A Biography

Dylan: A Biography

Bob Spitz. McGraw-Hill Companies, $19.95 (639pp) ISBN 978-0-07-060330-1

This overlong biography of Dylan (ne Robert Zimmerman) leads up to a thin, 25-page section on his life following his conversion to Christianity in 1979. Preceding are some 526 cliche-ridden pages on his youth in Minnesota, early stardom as a folksinger, 1965 metamorphosis with Highway 61 Revisited and the Newport Folk Festival, relationships, marriages, children, drink and drugs, ill-conceived tours and lazy recording-studio habits, bitter friendships and unabashed opportunism. There's lots of gossip, some sophomoric analysis and a whole mess of preposterous descriptions (``the guys in the Band were frisky little devils''). Spitz ( Barefoot in Babylon ) covers no new ground here, and writes in a mean-spirited manner, as elements of racism (``those big black mothers''; ``the ill-tempered greaseball'') and sexism (``the object of Dylan's affections was as devoted to him as a cocker spaniel in heat'') mingle freely with potshots at critics, the folk-music community, record buyers, John Lennon, David Bowie, Joan Baez, etc., along with Dylan himself. Photos not seen by PW . (Nov.)