Bob Dylan's outreach is too wide, too deep and too long for any book about him to cover it all. He'll be 65 years old when this book is published. His career spans 45 years of American history, and that history has intersected with his prolific songwriting, recording, touring, acting, filmmaking, TV appearances and interviews. He has published a novel and a book of drawings, composed for movie soundtracks and written a best-selling autobiography. He has found a place in the world of literature and academic study as well as in popular music. He is important to the history of the times, having given voice to a generation at a time of huge social change and political struggle; his songs are enmeshed in the story of the civil rights movement as well as the folk revival movement. His busy life has embraced everything from Bohemian excess to being Born Again. His work has revolutionised song, reaching into every area of popular music from folk to blues to rock to gospel. He has met and worked with untold hundreds of musicians, politicians, celebrities, singers, poets, writers, painters, filmmakers, actors and activists.
He has released several dozen albums, written many hundreds of songs, in many cases adapting them from older folk and blues material, and recorded songs by many other composers. He has been the subject of an enormous number of books, academic conference papers, showbiz stories, essays and concert reviews. He has attracted more fanzine enthusiasm, and inspired more websites, than almost anyone in the world. In order to resist the forces of infinity pushing this book beyond all bounds, it was decided to exclude some categories of entrant. There are, inevitably, exceptions, but in principle the following have been omitted: background business people like concert promoters, accountants, lawyers, managers, music publishers, booking agents, film producers and so on; the majority of photographers, album-cover designers and magazine editors; and people whose only connection with Dylan is that they have made cover-versions of his songs.The many different kinds of entry that are in the book include: Biographies of singers, musicians, songwriters and composers who have influenced Dylan and/or worked with him; Critical assessments and factual details (including place and date of recording, date of release and original catalogue numbers) for all Dylan's albums and for a large number of individual songs from all through Dylan's decades of work; Dylan's key career and biographical moments; Biographies of writers, poets and other key cultural figures who have impacted on Dylan's work and/or who are mentioned within it, from William Blake to William Carlos Williams and from Lenny Bruce to Franz Kafka, in each case delineating the often surprising ways in which they connect to Dylan's work; Short biographies of music critics and authors of books and major websites on Dylan; Critical assessments & facts on Dylan's own books and films; Discursive subjects, from Dylan Interpreters to Cowboy Heroes, and from The Use of Hollywood Dialogue in Dylan's lyrics, to 'frying an egg on stage'.
Michael Gray is recognized as a world authority on the work of Bob Dylan and is an expert on rock'n'roll history and the blues, with a special interest in pre-war blues. His massive Song & Dance Man III: The Art of Bob Dylan has been reprinted several times since being published by Continuum in 2000. He lives in Yorkshire, England.