Happy Birthday Bob! New book explores the life and career of Bob Dylan

As Bob Dylan turns 70, Yale University Press publishes a new biography exploring the many facets of the great singer-songwriter’s life and career.

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:

[Dylan’s music] became part of a cultural vocabulary and an ongoing American myth. Hundreds of songs; more than 500 and counting. Forty-three albums; more than 57 million copies sold. A series of dreams about America as it once and never was. It was folk music, deep within its core, from the mountains and the delta and the blacktop of Highway 61. Rhythm and blues, too, and juke-joint rock ‘n’ roll, and hymns from backwoods churches and gospel shouts from riverside baptisms. He put all that together, and found words to match it. [view full article]

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.

Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown

Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown

In Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown (part of Yale’s Icons of America series), 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.

Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown is available to order now from Yale University Press.

About the Author
David Yaffe is assistant professor of English at Syracuse University and the author of Fascinating Rhythm: Reading Jazz in American Writing (Princeton, 2005) and Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell (forthcoming from FSG). 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, and other publications. To mark Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday, David wrote a piece for The Daily Beast’s books blog, Dylan’s 70 Years of Trouble.

Videos of Bob Dylan
‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ by Bob Dylan. This iconic song was originally released in 1965 as a single on Columbia Records. It appeared 19 days later as the lead track to the album Bringing It All Back Home. It was Dylan’s first Top 40 hit in the US, peaking at #39 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also entered the Top 10 on the singles chart in the UK.

Bob Dylan in a playful mood, being Interviewed in 1965.

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