The Dylanologists

Bob Dylan is the most influential songwriter of our time and, after a half century, he remains a cultural touchstone, an enigma, and the subject of endless fascination. From the moment he arrived on the music scene, he attracted an intensely fanatical cult following, and in The Dylanologists, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist David Kinney ventures deep into this eccentric subculture to answer a question: What can Dylan’s grip on his most enthusiastic listeners tell us about his towering place in American culture?

“Juicy … Artfully told … The Dylanologists is an often moving chronicle of the ecstasies and depravities of obsession.” — New York Daily News

“By getting his subjects to talk about the moment, often years past, in which they were swayed by Dylan’s music, Kinney humanizes the archetype of the pop junkie. … Like a disappointed father—or an angry God—Dylan seems to lament the foibles of his followers. But Kinney argues that Dylan may have more in common with his obsessive fans than he might think.”— Ian Crouch, “Bob Dylan, Fanboy,” The New Yorker

“Kinney writes with wit and an acute eye for detail, and as well as producing deft character studies of those who can’t get close enough to the man behind the shades, he is very good on Dylan himself and the extent to which he may have encouraged such extreme behaviour by cultivating a mystique right from the outset of his career.” — The Independent

“Compelling … Lively … Kinney gives us a new way to think about one of the most thought-about men of the 20th century.”— Chicago Tribune

“Fascinating … In one sense, the people who follow Their Bob around on tour, scrounge his unreleased studio recordings or buy the manger he was born in are like refugees from a Coen brothers reality show: ‘Inside the Hoarders of Highway 61.’ But there is also a tantalizing sense that Dylan, as hostile or plain indifferent to them as he might appear, has his reciprocal moments too.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Entertaining and well-written … The Dylanologists is as much a book about obsession—about the ways our fascinations manifest themselves, about how we cope with what we love but don’t quite understand—as it is a book about a musician and his nutty fans.” — The Wall Street Journal

“While there’s no shortage of Dylan biographies or analyses of his work, The Dylanologists offers an interesting examination of Dylan’s cultlike band of followers who seem to put their lives on hold while dedicating themselves to the performer and his music. Fans will certainly enjoy this book, but so, too, should readers who seek a fascinating examination of a strange subculture.” — The AP

“Outrageous … Truly fascinating … Perhaps the only thing more inscrutable than Bob Dylan is the cavalcade of misfits and muckrakers that parade through this earnest exploration of the artist’s even more curious brand of devotees. … Alternately funny, intriguing, and shocking.”— Kirkus Reviews

The Dylanologists is the best book about music that has nothing to do with music. … Kinney provides the final word on the tragi-comedy of intense, unrelenting fandom . . . [and] reveals that Dylan himself is actually a red herring; what Dylanologists are actually after is a meaning in their own lives.”— Irish Times

“Illuminating … Deeply reported … Facinating.” — Slate

The Dylanologists is about people who care deeply about Bob Dylan—some obsessively, following him, studying him, as a central and powerful touchstone of meaning and guidance in their lives. Their fixations might seem quaint, even absurd, but David Kinney allows these people their genuine and hard-earned profundity. As we learn about their lives and thoughts, we also learn about Dylan’s, with insights that are compassionate, good-humored, troubling and revelatory, and that feel humane and accurate. This is a valuable and original contribution to the essential literature about a valuable and original artist. It’s also an absolutely pleasurable read.” — Mikal Gilmore, Rolling Stone writer and author of Shot in the Heart

The Dylanologists is a wonderful book—well written, insightful, and smartly reported. In chronicling Bob Dylan’s fans, David Kinney provides a clear-eyed portrait of the artist and the country that created him.” — Jonathan Eig author of Luckiest Man

“We have come to the metafictional stage of Dylan historiography—books not so much about the man as about his fans, his sources, his very relics. Kinney’s is fascinating, from his portrait of a pharmacist who has schemed to purchase not only Dylan’s childhood home but his high chair, to fans who somehow appear in the first row at every show. These are spooky sketches of a fringe culture in the twenty-first century, a world that could only exist because of Bob Dylan.” — Daniel Mark Epstein, author of The Ballad of Bob Dylan

Excerpt: ‘Well, son, we all have our heroes’

 Dylanologists: A Lifetime Of Studying (And Bootlegging, Stalking And Listening To) Boblive wire

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