Bob Dylan Like a Complete Unknown David Yaffe, Mark Crispin Miller

Icons of America
Publication date:
16 Jul 2012
Yale University Press
192 pages: 205 x 133mm
1 b-w illus.
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Bob Dylan is an iconic figure in American music and cultural history, lauded by "Time Magazine" as one of the hundred most important people of the twentieth century. For nearly fifty years the singer-songwriter has crafted his unique brand of music, from his 1962 self-titled debut album to 2009's number-one hit Together Through Life, appealing to everyone from baby boomers to the twenty-somethings who storm the stage at his concerts.

In Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown, literary scholar and music critic David Yaffe considers Dylan from four perspectives: his complicated relationship to blackness (including his involvement in the civil rights movement and a secret marriage with a black backup singer), the underrated influence of his singing style, his fascinating image in films, and his controversial songwriting methods that have led to charges of plagiarism. Each chapter travels from the 1960s to the present, offering a historical perspective on the many facets of Dylan's life and career, exploring the mystery that surrounds the enigmatic singer and revealing the complete unknown Dylan.

David Yaffe is assistant professor of English at Syracuse University and the author of Fascinating Rhythm: Reading Jazz in American Writing. He is a music critic for the Nation and has written articles for the Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan, the New York Times, Bookforum, New York Magazine, Slate, The New Republic, The Village Voice, and other publications.

"Far more nutritious are the four long, discursive essays in David Yaffe’s Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown…..Reading these books you’ll more than once come across what Dylan has said is his favourite line from Rimbaud: ‘Je est un autre’. Only Yaffe gets anywhere close to following Dylan’s drift" —Christopher Bray, Literary Review

"A concise, concentrated and erudite book… Yaffe undoubtedly knows his onions as far as Dylan is concerned; and he generously shares his knowledge and insight. His prose fairly flows too; he writes very well indeed."—P.P.O Kane, The Compulsive Reader