While most of the Dylan news of late has surrounded the upcoming, October, release of ninth entry in the official bootleg series (The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964), last month the new Dylan biography Bob Dylan In America was published by Doubleday. We have five copies to give away to AD readers. To enter, leave a comment below with your name (a valid email address in the submission field) and you favorite Dylan ‘era.’ And I’ll leave it up to you to creatively define what you consider ‘era’ to be. Will contact winners Friday.

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160 Responses to “Bob Dylan In America”

  1. my fav era is the blonde on blonde era! That man is a f’n genious and is a national treasure. I love me some dylan, and so does my baby~

  2. My favorite Dylan era is a period of about 6 minutes – “Tangled Up in Blue”, 1974.
    There were other great eras, most of them longer than 6 minutes, but this was his best.

  3. My favorite era changes depending on my mood. Right now it’s the ‘Freewheelin’ – ‘Another Side Of’ – ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’.

  4. I would have to say that music from every Dylan album gets under my skin, always in a good entirely life enhancing way and for this I am so grateful for his many gifts to us.

  5. My favorite era would be that period of incredible productivity (and artistry) around the time of the Times They Are A-Changin’ LP. So many great songs that didn’t even make the album.

  6. The trilogy of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde And Blonde would have to be considered his greatest ‘era’ in terms of innovation, consistency, inspiration and dynamism.

    All three of those records are works of genius – taking traditional musical forms and structures, he infused them with urbane wit and outrageous lyrical prowess. They are more than just rock records, they are portraits of a man almost deliriously inspired, who is on auto-pilot, living in a world of his own making, where everything is slightly stranger, and more beautiful.

    It is impossible for me to listen to any of these albums and not be moved tremendously, such is their depth and quality. From ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ to ‘Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands’, you have a creative zenith that can only happen once in an artist’s life, where they are unconsciously and wildly spitting forth great work at such pace that it seems easy. Dylan has a lot of great later work too, but as even he admitted, he couldn’t write songs like these again if he tried.

  7. I just love the Basement Tapes. Even before I knew what the Basement Tapes were, the very first song I played guitar on in front of an audience was a cover of “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” – I just followed the chords, tried not to fuck up and had fun. It’s nice to know that was kind of the spirit of the thing originally.

    I not only own the proper version, but the Tree With Roots bootleg, and the newish “Safety Master” bootleg that apparently came from Neil Young’s archives, and which sounds better than the 2009 remastered version (partly because of no overdubs, partly because it’s a better copy of the master – it’s so clean-sounding – makes you realise that the equipment they recorded it on wasn’t actually that bad). Put it this way: I’ve even listened to “See You Later Allen Ginsburg” more than once.

    I went and found Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode To Billy Joe” because I wanted to see what “Clothesline Saga” was meant to be taking the piss out of (both songs ended up being awesome). I’ve always looked for great covers of the tunes, and in fact made a mix of contemporary-ish covers of tunes from the tapes (Apart from the obvious – The Band, Nina Simone doing “I Shall Be Released”, Manfred Mann – Coulson, Dean, McGuinness & Flint do some exceptional covers on an album of Dylan rarities, like “Lo and Behold”, and there’s a band called Trials And Tribulations that not only covered “Please Mrs. Henry” but also covered “The Stones I Throw” from when the Band were called Levon and the Hawks, who have a pleasing ramshackleness). I reckon Jim James & Calexico doing “Goin’ To Acapulco” is possibly the best Dylan cover ever, and love the old weird America scene in “I’m Not There” that comes from. I kind of feel that “I’m Not There (1956)” the song has been over-rated because it was scarce and rare, and was kind of hard to hear, so people could put their own meanings into it. My favourite obscure-ish songs from the tapes are “All American Boy” and “Sign On The Cross”. I wish there were more bands like the Felice Brothers who had the vibe of that music.

    I also have something of a collection of Dylan books that involve the Basement Tapes – the obvious is Greil Marcus’s paean to them, and there’s the Basement Tapes book that came out a couple of years ago, and there’s a large section in Clinton Heylin’s “Revolution In The Air” devoted to them, all of which I devoured, at first hesitatingly and then more rapturously.

    I have a recording of the lead singer of one of my favourite Australian bands, and some friends, singing some covers at a wedding. One of the covers they do is a lovely “I Shall Be Released”. The singer says before it, “I’m not sure who wrote this, I think this is a traditional” – and it does have Dylan’s name on the credit, but I know exactly what he means – it sounds like a song that always existed.

  8. The amphetamine years, the guy moving so hot and fast up his own road to destiny that he scorches and blinds half of those around him, the press, the folkies, even his friends. Responding to the “Judas” heckler with “you’re a liar!” and ripping into Like a Rolling Stone was a moment that Hollywood could never script. These years, 65-66, saw Dylan pull one of the most astounding creative outpourings of any artist in modern times.

  9. The post-motorsickle-crash, slightly forgotten stretch (from ’67-’74) that all started in the basement of a big pink house in Saugerties, NY…so much good stuff that most casual fans have no idea about. Love it!

    Basement Tapes > John Wesley Harding > Nashville Skyline > Self Portrait > New Morning > Planet Waves… only one hiccup in the stretch (I’ll let y’all decide which).

  10. […] off, if you copped one of the Dylan biographies from us last month, please refrain from entering into this one. This week Aquarium Drunkard is […]

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