Who Is That Man?: In Search of the Real Bob Dylan
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Who Is That Man?: In Search of the Real Bob Dylan

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  98 ratings  ·  25 reviews
A Kaleidoscopic Look at the Many Faces of Bob Dylan

For almost half a century, Bob Dylan has been a primary catalyst in rock's shifting sensibilities. Few American artists are as important, beloved, and endlessly examined, yet he remains something of an enigma. Who, we ask, is the "real" Bob Dylan? Is he Bobby Zimmerman, yearning to escape Hibbing, Minnesota, or the Woody G...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Hyperion (first published January 1st 2012)
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Jaime (Twisting the Lens)
Much of Dylan’s early work gave rise to the sub genre of folk that came to be known as “protest music,” and Dylan was the crown prince of protest, even as he rejected the title. But soon, Dylan turned up the color dial and the monochrome slid away. He began to write songs filled with imagery, tunes, dream sequences, and word play, and vocal inflection that changed the world, not just of music, but the world itself.

It is into that world that David Dalton takes the reader. From the middle-class Bo...more
Joseph
David Dalton follows a familiar pattern in weighting his book toward the Dylan of the '60s into the mid-'70s, which undercuts the author's desire to riff on each of Dylan's albums and explore its impact on his audience and American music, while probing Dylan's life for clues to "the Real Bob Dylan." Dalton makes clear that the search his subtitle invokes is futile: what we call "Dylan" is "a multiphrenic, polymorphous, composite entity" generated by a human being who remains fundamentally myster...more
Richard
By becoming the consumate performance artist of the past 50 years, Bob Dylan more than any artist of his generation has invited the question that is the title of this book. He's a fascination beyond his artistic output. Ultimately, though, at least for me, the persona is much less interesting than the work. Depending on the biographer Dylan is tragically screwed up, a pretty nice guy with normal faults, a young schmuck, a generous friend . He's a paranoid speed-freak, a religious fanatic, a civi...more
Kimberly
A very fun, hip read that focuses on Dylan's hipness and amazing artistry, rather than on tawdry details about his relationships, sex life, and the like. I especially liked the chapters on "inside bob's brain" (about his mostly unviewed films "Eat the Document" and "Renaldo and Clara") and about him performing for and meeting Pope John Paul II. I loved the hip and sometimes irreverent drawings. A real breeze of a book, I read it in a day or two. Great fun.
Nick
I know, Dalton is a great rock critic. I did learn a few things from it, but I did not like his writing style. Just listen to the music.
Steve
The hook behind this book is the way Bob Dylan has altered his persona through the years. All Dylan biographies have to tread this ground at least a bit -- as Dylan really has been a protean personality. As with the Dylan biography itself, it's probably most interesting when it deals with the 60s, and the coverage of the Jesus years is a bit muddy, as is the discussion of the 90s, and the author doesn't really have a handle on what Bob is doing with himself these days; I felt he didn't really wa...more
Mattc
the author states in chapter one that dylan talks about buddy holly during his 1991 lifetime achievement grammy acceptance speech, but that is incorrect; dylan talked about holly during the 1998 grammy acceptance speech for time out of mind. it is surprising to me that an error like this is not caught during the proofreading process.

later in the book the author references the 'hard rain' concert in texas. only, this concert was in colorado.

a couple of easily-identifiable (to dylan fans) factual...more
Deezer42
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa
Wow was I excited to win this book. I must stay that I was a bit dissapointed in though. I found that the stories of Dylan were sort of hints for me to make my own decision as to what happened. I get that Dylan was a hard man to pin down because of his dislike of interviews and his aloofness. I was amazed at how he was so I hate to use the word but stuck on himself but that is how I felt when reading that he did not even speak to people. I found Dylan to really odd however I think that makes him...more
Wendy
I was interested in this book as a long-time casual fan of Bob Dylan's music. I was worried that the book would be too technical or academic and was pleasantly surprised at what a joy it was to read. David Dalton has written a very accessible book about the music, the culture, and the man himself, in all of his various incarnations. He explores the mystique that is Dylan and how Dylan has perpetuated that mystique. The book brought back many memories and led me back to many songs that I had forg...more
Bill Keithler






It took me awhile before I appreciated that this was not a run of the mill rehash of Dylan's history. It is, in fact, a thoughtful analysis, albeit a speculative one, as most treatises on Dylan must be. The author's descriptions of various of Dylan's personas as he moves through the years of Dylan's career paints a fairly bleak picture of his subject as a victim of both his attempts to hide from the onslaught of fame (which he sought) as well as his own dishonesty. Ad in the end Dylan is portray...more
Sherman
A really weird guy! Never knew he was that weird. However, the talent makes up for it. Did not like to give interviews and no one liked to do the interviews! Could walk into a room and everyone was awestruck. He wouldn't say a word. While performing for the pope he hinted that his favorite song was Blowing In The Wind......ole Bob wouldn't even sing it. He loved Johnny Cash and country music and considered himself a country singer. He once said he was born between the grooves of a 78 (speed) rec...more
Adam Singletary
I started this book with limited knowledge of Dylan and, while I learned a lot and the book was well written, I wish I had chosen a different biography. After the Blonde on Blonde era, this book became a bit of a eulogy mourning the supposed sharp decline of Dylan’s career. The way the decline was presented seemed to be as much a part of the author’s personal opinion of Dylan’s career as it was of actual fact. But, like I said, I’m new to Dylan. Also, a trivial opinion, but the word “hipster” wa...more
Steve Lane
The book reads like one continuous liner note.
Allen
Interesting artist; quirky and elusive. A bit heavy on the literary and cultural allusions but plenty of thoughtful analysis as well.
Dave Moyer
This Dylan book distinguishes itself in the storytelling, which is not always a good thing. There seems to be too much focus and Dylan's interest in the movies, and the author cops out at the end by not trying to make some assertion about who he thinks Dylan is. However, interesting enough for most Dylan fans. I would suggest there are much better Dylan books out there.
Johnrylelawsoniii
Sometimes Dalton gets carried away, but no one wants a methodical biography of Bob Dylan

The last person who should be examined via a grinding, studious, meticulous biography is Bob Dylan. Wisely, Dalton cuts loose from traditional shackles and writes about Dylan the way you're supposed to write about Dylan.
Rick
I've read a lot of Dylan books over the years. This one is a little "out there" in places. ok on one level---lots of good info and stories, but not always reliable in its truthfulness. Sometimes things are hinted at but never explained or developed well. Should definitely not be the first Dylan bio one should read.
Danielle
Oh my god this was torture. The concept of the book intrigued me but the writing style and the assumptions of Dylan's character were just too much. Every sentence was a convoluted mixture of words. You had no idea where they were going and often they didn't go anywhere relevant.
Larryta
A well-written look at Dylan's changing faces, with author Dalton doing his best to accept Dylan's trickster ways while trying to tease the truth from Dylan's creative fictions. It covers a lot of familiar ground, but in a fresh, perceptive way.
Dale Muckerman
Really good in covering the earlier stages of Dylan's musical career through Blood on the Tracks. Weakens toward the end...but to be honest Dylan was stronger musically (or at least more creative)in the earlier stages of his career.
Diana
Trippy. Amphetamine-fueled beat poet and precient rapper. Is that you Bob? For anyone into language and words, both Dylan and author Dalton send you to the dictionary several times a page.
Meleya
I drug my way through this one. I learned a few things but I was hoping it read like a story but it read more like an encyclopedia.
Dijon Chiasson
As usual, it is basically a guy stroking himself off to Dylan. Luckily, I'm kinda into that stuff.
AmmaLinda
"Barbaric yawp".
David, I give you a "D" and that's being generous.
Dju
Dju is currently reading it
Aug 06, 2014
Fiona McKenzie
Fiona McKenzie marked it as to-read
Aug 06, 2014
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