The Ultimate Biography of the Musical Icon
Photo by Lisa Law
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.
From Kirkus Reviews:
"The author’s admiration for Dylan’s artistic accomplishments is patent—in the preface, he compares him with Shakespeare, Twain and Dickens—though he does not hesitate to blast Dylan for shoddy performances, weak records, personal coldness (even cruelty), drug and alcohol abuse, and a serial sex life that would make Casanova’s grave glow green."
From Publishers Weekly:
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.
The Candlestickmaker is now available on Amazon!
Rub a dub dub
Three men in a tub
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker
And all of them lost at sea.
Aboard the spy ship U.S.S. Argosy in the war-tossed waters off the coast of Vietnam, three young American sailors form an unlikely bond. Each has fled an America they were raised to love but somehow no longer understand. When forced to choose whether to face combat or stay and fight the war in the streets, they sign up for a war that reflected the conflict that raged inside each of them. The one thing of which they were certain was that the only people in the world that they could depend on were each other.
As their friendship deepens in bars and brothels from Hong Kong to Subic Bay, Ernie Brigham and his companions slowly become aware of a dark secret aboard the U.S.S. Argosy. Upon their return to the America they left behind, they are changed at best, lost and damaged at worst, but ultimately sobered by a war that never should have been fought.
In the tradition of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried
, Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke
, and Phillip Caputo’s A Rumor of War
, The Candlestickmaker
recalls a Vietnam that seared disenchantment into a post World War II generation who learned to question authority at all levels. A coming-of-age story bookended by shocking revelations that shatter illusions about patriotism, government and the nature of modern warfare, The Candlestickmaker
takes readers on a voyage that will guarantee they never read the Mother Goose nursery rhyme in the same way again.
Bob & friend
I've been on the road, in the stacks, on the Internet and down in the courtroom basements of America researching and writing my Dylan biography for over three years now and the Bob I've been finding is not the one we've come to know. A poet to be sure, and one of our finest, but an all-too-human recluse too with much to hide. I fill my days with Dylan now, parsing, interviewing, matching facts with Bob's fictive spin in hopes of producing a definitive biography. I thought I'd be closer to the finish line by now, but me, I am still on the road, heading for another joint, and despite Bob's recent six-book deal, I'll tell it from a different point of view...
Five years ago, I signed with Peter Jones Productions
as consulting producer on a two-hour PBS documentary based on my biography of Otis Chandler
, "Privileged Son: Otis Chandler and the Rise and Fall of the L.A. Times Dynasty." "Inventing L.A.: The Chandlers and their Times" which premiered on "American Experience" in October of 2009, is an ambitious reprise of the generation by generation history of the once-great Los Angeles Times and its publishers who, arguably, created modern day Los Angeles from a pueblo that Gen. Harrison Otis first called home in 1881. The tale tracks the career of the General's son-in-law Harry Chandler, one of the inspirations for Robert Towne's Noah Cross character in the classic L.A. noir film "Chinatown", followed by the quintessential L.A. power couple Norman and Dorothy Buffum Chandler, and culminates in the ascension of their son Otis to the Publisher's Suite in 1960. Last spring, "Inventing L.A." was honored with a George Peabody Award for excellence in television broadcasting.
Our shack out East in the Tennessee wilderness...
I once lived and wrote near the sea, more specifically in Long Beach, California, but insane traffic and a general decline in the environment made me relocate to Memphis eight years ago. A bit of my heart will always remain along the Los Angeles coastline where I was born and spent most of my life, witnessing the slow decade-by-decade dissipation of Eden by the Sea.
But turns out Memphis is not only the home of the blues, Elvis and the finest barbeque on the planet. It's also green -- Tennessee is, in fact, the greenest state in the land of the free; Davy Crockett got that much right. Our manse isn't moss covered, but it does have a lot of the other attributes of Southern comfort: oaks, poplar, hickory, deer, fox, wild turkeys and a host of other varmints, including armadillos, gopher snakes and coyote. There is no traffic. L.A. freeways are a distant memory and outside of the pollen, the air is clean and the water plentiful. It is a far cry from living in an asphalt desert. Doesn't mean it's flawless. Humidity and heat would make it unlivable for a California boy were it not for air conditioning. But with it, Memphis is mighty fine, mighty fine indeed.
Memphis is a good place to write and that is what I'm doing. John Wiley & Sons published my biography of Jack Nicholson and his career in film, and Five Easy Decades
is on the shelves now.
Watch for updates here on DYLAN
, the latest on my Vietnam era novel The Candlestickmaker
, a little project called "The Acid Chronicles," and more.