Bob Dylan: A Descriptive, Critical Discography & Filmography, 1961-1993

Date:    Wed, 15 Nov 1995 13:36:08 -0600
From:    Mark Gonnerman (markg@LELAND.STANFORD.EDU)
Subject: Re: new books/ Nogowski

In article <>,

> could someone post information (perhaps a brief snippet from each)
> and reviews about these recent dylan books. are they easy to get?
> 1.  Bob Dylan: A Descriptive, Critical Discography & Filmography,
>     1961-1993.  01/1995 McFarland & Company, Incorporated
>     Publishers.
> John Nogowski.
> Trade Paper  ISBN 0-89950-785-9  192p.
>         US$ 34.50  (B)

Table of Contents:

Part One:  The Albums
Part Two:  Singles and Recorded Collaborations with Other Artists
Part Three:  Bootlegs of Dylan
Part Four:  Dylan on Film and Television
Part Five:  Dylan on Radio
Part Six:  Books by and About Dylan

A:  Dylan Records, Weeks on the Charts
B:  Chart Positions
C:  Songs Rated A+ [by Nogowski]

Nogowski's book (really a catalog) is illuminating and irritating.  Reading
as someone who has been away from Dylan for a long while :-(, I found the
book very helpful as a way of reviewing his creative corpus, picking up
intriguing tidbits and recovering my bearings :-).  Nogowski is especially
good at showing the relation of parts of the corpus to the whole of Dylan's
life narrative and that narrative's historical and cultural context.

Part One, the album section, reviews what Craig once called the "beginners'
samplers," the forty legitimate releases.  Nogowski provides information on
each album's chart position, outtakes, singles, cover, and liner notes.  He
then goes to each track and offers brief and breezy comments, capping off
his observations with a letter grade.  He assigns each album an overall
grade at the end.

Part Three reviews ten recommended bootlegs.  The reader must, of course,
supplement Nogowski's meager offering with the excellent installments of
"Deep Beneath the Waves" (conveniently stored at [see
item 7]).  I found Part Five, "Dylan on Radio," especially interesting.
Are there really just two radio interviews circulating out there?  (Time to
consult Krogsgaard.)  Nogowski describes the November '84 "Westwood Radio
One Special:  Dylan on Dylan" and the Fall '91 "Westwood Radio One:  The
Bootleg Series."  (If anyone has these or others, I'd like to trade for
them.)  Part Six, a judicious, annotated bibliography, discusses Tarantula
and books about Dylan by others.  The appendices serve to reiterate
Nogowski's unfortunate obsession with rankings and grading.

For all its merits, I often found this book irritating.  That's a good
thing.  My margins are full of question marks indicating places where
Nogowski contradicts himself, offers opinions I disagree with, is too
superficial in his analysis, and gives information that doesn't seem right
or serves to inspire further research on my part.  A book like this is
useful precisely because it raises questions and perspectives that make the
reader articulate his or her own point of view.  Of course reading through
a book like this is no substitute for firsthand experience of the materials
Nogowski discusses, and many times I paused to pick up a CD and give a
track another listen in response to something the author says.  That, I
suspect, is the kind of response Nogowski aims to provoke.

As for availability:  If your local library doesn't have a copy, talk to
your librarian.  The book can be ordered from McFarland & Company, Inc.,
Box 611, Jefferson, NC  28640 (orders at 800-253-2187).  There is a UK
distributor:  Shelwing Ltd., 127 Sandygate Road, Folkestone, Kent CT20 2BL.
 (I have no affiliation with this press, though I do urge everyone to
support smaller, specialized presses and the kind of effort this book