Bob Dylan, Still On The Road And Not Looking Back

Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan 1974-2006 by Clinton Heylin Chicago Review Press, 448 pp., $29.95.

Perhaps the world's premier Dylanologist and author of the best bio on the man (Behind the Shades Revisited), Clinton Heylin continues his exhaustive examination of every song Bob Dylan wrote - even if it was never actually recorded and/or performed - with the companion volume to his Revolution in the Air.

And while it's tempting and arguably true to say that the bulk of Dylan's "best" songs were written during the period of the first book, this one (covering songs 301-600!) includes the story behind tracks from fine album works like Blood On the Tracks, Desire and Time Out of Mind.

Still on the Road is, like its predecessor, not meant for the casual Dylan fan. A more manageable dissection of songs can be found in Tim Riley's Hard Rain. Heylin's prose is a bit textbook-y at times, and many readers will find themselves skimming through songs for the ones they are familiar with.

But it does offer a treasure trove of information from the many historical inaccuracies of "Hurricane" and the many variations of "Dignity" to the Biblical references from the "God trilogy" to the theft (and there was a lot of it...) on "Love and Theft." No hagiographer, Heylin even delves into Dylan's "lazy" '80s period that produced the least engaging songs of the canon.

As to whether Dylan can live and work long enough for Heylin to produce a third volume...he's got an inside track with at least one guy who might have some pull in that area...

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