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Once Upon a Time: The Lives of Bob Dylan
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Pegasus Books 2013
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Description

The first volume in this "knotty, beguiling, contrary" account of the American music legend "could be the most vital Dylan biography yet" (The Guardian).
Half a century ago, a youth appeared from the American hinterland and began a cultural revolution. The world is still coming to terms with what Bob Dylan accomplished in his artistic explosion upon popular culture.


In Once Upon A Time, award-winning author Ian Bell draws together the tangled strands of the many lives of Bob Dylan in all their contradictory brilliance. For the first time, the laureate of modern America is set in his entire context: musical, historical, literary, political, and personal.


Full of new insights into the legendary singer, his songs, his life, and his era, the artist who invented himself in order to reinvent America is discovered anew. Once Upon A Time is a lively investigation of a mysterious personality that has splintered and reformed, time after time, in a country forever trying to understand itself. Now that mystery is explained.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
10/01/2013
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781480447509
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Ian Bell. (2013). Once Upon a Time: The Lives of Bob Dylan. Pegasus Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Ian Bell. 2013. Once Upon a Time: The Lives of Bob Dylan. Pegasus Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Ian Bell, Once Upon a Time: The Lives of Bob Dylan. Pegasus Books, 2013.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Ian Bell. Once Upon a Time: The Lives of Bob Dylan. Pegasus Books, 2013.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 18:36:24
Date Updated:
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        Born in Edinburgh, Ian Bell is a winner of the George Orwell Prize for political journalism. He is the author of Dreams of Exile, a biography of Robert Louis Stevenson, and is currently a columnist with the London Sunday Herald.

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Once Upon a Time
fullDescription

The first volume in this "knotty, beguiling, contrary" account of the American music legend "could be the most vital Dylan biography yet" (The Guardian).
Half a century ago, a youth appeared from the American hinterland and began a cultural revolution. The world is still coming to terms with what Bob Dylan accomplished in his artistic explosion upon popular culture.


In Once Upon A Time, award-winning author Ian Bell draws together the tangled strands of the many lives of Bob Dylan in all their contradictory brilliance. For the first time, the laureate of modern America is set in his entire context: musical, historical, literary, political, and personal.


Full of new insights into the legendary singer, his songs, his life, and his era, the artist who invented himself in order to reinvent America is discovered anew. Once Upon A Time is a lively investigation of a mysterious personality that has splintered and reformed, time after time, in a country forever trying to understand itself. Now that mystery is explained.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Financial Times
      • content:

        "Bell writes beautifully, in rhythmic, incantatory prose. An imagined reliving of an already imaginary life, and a book to sit alongside Richard Ellmann on Wilde, John Richardson on Picasso, and Peter Ackroyd on Dickens. This is the best Dylan biography ever."

      • premium: False
      • source: The Herald (London)
      • content: "Exceptional. Bell writes about Dylan's America with a cultural perception that is profound. Intelligent, challenging, and altogether worthy of its enigmatic subject."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Spectator
      • content: "Ambitious. Bell handles Dylan brilliantly."
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist, starred review
      • content: "A fully formed emotional biography, a fascinating read about an artist who, to this day, defends his right of 'artistic autonomy,' refusing to be anyone but himself, whoever that may be."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        July 29, 2013
        Biographer Bell (Dreams of Exile) meanders tediously through Dylan’s life, from his early days in Hibbing, Minn., up through the early 1970s. Bell piles details about one well-known episode after another—the infamous electric set at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965; the reception of his 1969 “country” album, Nashville Skyline; his experiences in Greenwich Village in the early ’60s—in this bloated and repetitive retelling of the ways that Dylan continued to reinvent himself and his music over the years. Bell asks the obvious question: “What is so special about Dylan?” and answers that “he is a moral artist and a rowdy artist, a spiritual writer and a sexual writer... an improviser and a craftsman.... Dylan is a public artist who keeps himself to himself.” Nevertheless, Bell does helpfully point out that Dylan’s early music owes as much to Robert Johnson and the blues as it does to Woody Guthrie. Yet, scores of other more eloquently written Dylan biographies lead us fruitfully through the singer’s back pages

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        September 1, 2013
        A British journalist peers across the Atlantic to suss out what Bob Dylan has been up to over the last half-century. Former Observer editor and current Herald columnist Bell (Dreams of Exile: Robert Louis Stevenson: A Biography, 1993) opens with an incident that has been well-reported to the point of near-tedium: that inglorious moment in Manchester, England, in which a spectator yelled "Judas," only to have Dylan instruct the band, "Play it fucking loud." The year was 1966. Soon, Dylan would be different, but for that moment, he was tousle-haired, defiant and snotty: "Jean-Jacques Rousseau on a good day could not have contrived this savage boy," Bell smartly remarks. Packing his narrative with similarly learned cultural references, and sometimes sounding like an Oxford don speaking about the Beatles' Aeolian cadences, Bell ponders the deliberateness with which Dylan built up his vast body of work, from improbable beginnings to his latter-day minstrelsy. Bell often assumes a portentous, arch tone, as if he's caught Dylan red-handed in an act of flimflam: "Maybe Bobby Zimmerman just decided, back in 1958 or 1959, that you don't get to be a star if you're Bobby Zimmerman, from little Hibbing--where the hell?--in Minnesota." Perhaps, but maybe someone who's started in the music business as a teenager is allowed to reinvent himself, just as every other American is and maybe every other Briton, too. Alternately, Bell sometimes takes Dylan a little too seriously, a not-uncommon phenomenon in the vast literature surrounding him. Yet, he often hits just the right note, as when he divines that by merely seeking a little privacy after Blonde on Blonde, Dylan was adding to his legend: "Simply by stepping back from the microphone, Dylan had become 'a recluse.' " A middling book. Greil Marcus is better on Dylan's place in the context of the "old, weird America," though Bell ventures some useful observations from afar.

        COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from September 1, 2013
        A public figure for decades, Bob Dylan remains enigmatic in spite of a recent spate of biographies. Bell, author of a biography of Robert Louis Stevenson, Dreams of Exile (1993), now offers less a full-fledged biography than an often insightful attempt to understand, as the title indicates, the many lives of this singular and frustratingly mysterious figure. From his upbringing within a tiny Jewish community in northern, gentile Minnesota ( He knew all about being a Jew in small-town Middle America, yet refused to accept that it mattered ) to his early days in Greenwich Village as a fabulist folksinger who made the rounds of numerous coffeehouses and, through a combination of mimicry, theft, and imitation, transformed himself from Bobby Zimmerman to Bob Dylan. Thus, it is a partial biography in terms of covering the arc of Dylan's long career; Bell ends with Dylan's masterful Blood on the Tracks in 1975, followed by a nod to his artistic resurrection in the 1990s and up to the present day. Rather, this is best described as a fully formed emotional biography, a fascinating read about an artist who, to this day, defends his right of artistic autonomy, refusing to be anyone but himself, whoever that may be.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

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The first volume in this "knotty, beguiling, contrary" account of the American music legend "could be the most vital Dylan biography yet" (The Guardian).
Half a century ago, a youth appeared from the American hinterland and began a cultural revolution. The world is still coming to terms with what Bob Dylan accomplished in his artistic explosion upon popular culture.


In Once Upon A Time, award-winning author Ian Bell draws together the tangled strands of the many lives of Bob Dylan in all their contradictory brilliance. For the first time, the laureate of modern America is set in his entire context: musical, historical, literary, political, and personal.


Full of new insights into the legendary singer, his songs, his life, and his era, the artist who invented himself in order to reinvent America is discovered anew. Once Upon A Time is a lively investigation of a mysterious personality that has splintered and reformed, time after...

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