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Encyclopedia was great, but I agree, the actual albums and songs were unevenly covered.
dylan's "Love minus zero, no limit"
the best love song there is.
and, if you're a real hunter, there's a clapton version that is wonderful.
my girlfriend bought me a Dylan scrapbook bokk for christmas that covers his early days, another treasure . . .
Without ideals or violence
She doesn't have to say she's faithful
But she's true like ice like fire.
Those were the days my friend
I thought they'd never end
Those were the days
Oh yes, those were the days.
And now Dylan wins a Pulitzer!
but yeah, I thought critics were too harsh on dylan for self portrait at the time. there really was a lot of crap being put out at the time, and dylan's double album was a nice break. Over time, i think it's not amoung his great albums, but it holds a special place in my memorybank, i remember driving around searching for that farm
and never finding it, of course.
anyway, i'm glad he did it, glad he moved on ...
But it is true, Dylan was wading in the country-folk area for a number of years, (even playing sidekick to Doug Sahm) before finally getting back to form with Blood on The tracks.
I was the first kid in my part of North Carolina to own a Dylan album in 1961 with Freewheelin' followed almost immediately by Bob Dylan. By the time Planet Waves came out I was musically in a different place than Bob. Rock and Roll and I parted ways with Kiss. Not that I didn't like them, but for someone who cut his musical teeth on Bill Haley, Gene Vincent, early Elvis, Clyde McPhatter, etc. I was leaving mid-70's - present Rock behind.
If I get some details wrong, (Yes I owned a copy of Nashville Skyline), even though I sort of date the beginning of his less interesting period with JWH it's a jumble. If you were there, you understand. If not, take my advice, don't do drugs, they'll make a hash of your mind.
Nashville Skyline is a good album as well - it introduced some Dylan classics, and the duet with Johnny Cash works really well.
His really bad years were the 80s, where he seemed intent on sabotaging his own career. If you listen to the Bootleg Series, he was ignoring his best songs/versions at the time. The nadir was Dylan and the Dead which was completely appalling - the worst album either act was involved in.
The BEST recent Dylan book, though, is "The Never Ending Star" by Lee Marshall (I think) -- a truly great Dylan book.
BTW, Suze Rotolo has a book out about life in the Village with Bob in the early Sixties"A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties. I, myself, having little memory of that time (If you can remember it, you weren't there) need all the books I can get. Otherwise, I'll never know what I did then.
Another good recent Dylan book is the one by Keith Negus, simply called "Bob Dylan". It is very good and well considered.
Dylan's ex-drummer, Winston Watson, has released a DVD diary, not a book.