Exclusive Review :
You Lose Yourself You Reappear : The Many Voices of Bob Dylan
by Paul Morley
Music was so important to the culture when I was growing up in the Sixties and Seventies. We just expected that Bob Dylan was going to make a great record, and it was normal. It was like, ‘Okay, here’s another great record by Bob Dylan; here’s another great record by Led Zeppelin.’
John Mellencamp on Bob Dylan
To mark Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday, there’s another riveting read on the life and times of this living legend as bestselling author Paul Morley explores the many voices of the music icon, in “You Lose Yourself You Reappear: The Many Voices of Bob Dylan”. This book can be best described as a toolkit, get to know (or get to know even better!) biography of one of the world’s greatest musicians. Dylan has been a much respected staple of the music industry for well over 50 years, and a talent that has been proven in the worlds of music, art and poetry, (When not making music, Dylan has explored his talents as a visual artist. His paintings have appeared on the covers of his albums, Self Portrait (1970) and Planet Waves (1974), and he has published several books of his paintings and drawings, as well as exhibited his artwork all around the world). He is indeed a resounding example of multi-faceted talent, someone who has been described as the Charlie Chaplin of rock n’roll – a genius in his own time.
He was born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota, to parents Abram and Beatrice Zimmerman. He and his younger brother David, were raised in the community of Hibbing, where he graduated from Hibbing High School in 1959. In 1961, he signed a recording contract with Columbia Records, at which point he legally changed his surname to Dylan. Many have grown to love his distinct gravel-voiced singing style of traditional folk songs and covers of blues songs, driven by the influences of early rock stars like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard.
The book which is set out in a chronological order of sorts, lays out its chapters with titles like : One – A Stranger Calls, Four – Taking Hold of History, Five – Love Made Visible, Six – Born to Leave Places, Seven – Borrowed Time, Nine – Legend Has It, and makes for a fascinating insightful read. In Chapter 4 – Taking Hold of History, the author tells us, “…there are many Bob Dylans, each with their very own voice, some taking more time to deteriorate more than others…” , and sees himself as among others “… a Dylan fanatic: a devotee, a believer….. a kind of ally…. As one or more of those, I need to write a book about Dylan and the many Dylans that plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land.” …taking us on an intimate and enjoyable journey through Dylan’s music, life and loves.
So many books have been written about Bob Dylan, what makes this one interesting is how it takes us full circle from the start of the artist’s life to right up to the present day and the Pandemic of 2020. “…and Dylan was still breathing in 2020, when the very idea of the absolute miracle of breathing was concerning people more than ever.”
Tangled Up in Blue’, ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’, ‘Like a Rolling Stone’, ‘Visions of Johanna’ ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’, ‘It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)’, ‘I Shall Be Released’, ‘All Along the Watchtower’, ‘Just Like a Woman’,…. the list of hits seem endless. For me it wasn’t just about his songs, his aura, his cool, add to my daughter being named Dylan, there is so much to celebrate and give tribute to his legacy. The legendary singer-songwriter has continued to tour and release new studio albums, including Together Through Life (2009), Tempest (2012), Shadows in the Night (2015), Fallen Angels (2016), Rough and Rowdy Ways (2020) and has received Grammy, Academy and Golden Globe awards, the Nobel Prize for Literature as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In late 2020, Bob Dylan sold his entire catalogue of 600 songs, including Blowin’ in the Wind and Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, to Universal Music in the biggest music publishing deal in decades, reportedly worth more than $300m (£225m).
What’s your Dylan? ‘You Lose Yourself You Reappear: The Many Voices of Bob Dylan’, can help you on your journey of (re)discovery, and is an education in itself – welcome to the world of Bob Dylan, the original mercurial man.
Final image : Photo illustration courtesy Slate.com
Published by Simon and Schuster – You Lose Yourself You Reappear, The Many Voices of Bob Dylan
By Paul Morley is available at all good booksellers : http://bit.ly/3ntWLkT