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When it originally appeared in 1971, Anthony Scaduto's biography signalled a landmark in rock literature. It offered a rare glimpse into the shadowy world of Bob Dylan--who at the time was in a period of hibernation from which he wouldn't emerge until 1973. But, more importantly, this was the first book to look seriously at the man who had single-handedly altered the course of rock 'n' roll.
Scaduto only accounted for Dylan's life up until the New Morning album but, even now, his book remains an essential purchase for anyone even remotely interested in the enigmatic poet. By the time it was republished in 1996, later biographies had superseded it (notably those by Robert Shelton and Bob Spitz) and innumerable other volumes are now available on Dylan's life and work, particularly those by Michael Gray and Clinton Heylin.
Nevertheless, re-reading Scaduto nearly 30 years on, it is striking how much of the territory he covered. His style may seem a trifle leaden by today's standards, but the range of interviews is impressive and, for sheer densely packed pages, Scaduto more than delivers. He is particularly good on Dylan's Greenwich Village and capturing the optimism of the period, quoting folk singer Dave Van Ronk's greeting to Dylan after hearing "Blowin' In The Wind" for the first time: "Hey man, you're really getting into something with those songs. Welcome to the twentieth century." --Patrick Humphries [via]