Rock & Roll Summer Reading

Rock & Roll Summer Reading

Legendary Sessions: Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited

by Colin Irwin
Billboard Books, 256 pp., $19.95

A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties

by Suze Rotolo
Broadway Books, 384 pp., $22.95

Real Moments: Bob Dylan

by Barry Feinstein
Omnibus Press, 159 pp., $34.95

Bob Dylan's 1965 single "Like a Rolling Stone" and subsequent groundbreaking LP Highway 61 Revisited changed the course of popular music. With a new, cutting-edge "folk rock" sound and surreal imagery, Highway was Dylan's first full album using a rock band. The sessions bookended his hugely controversial electric performance at the Newport Folk Festival, while also marking Dylan's forsaking his reverential status in the folk world for a more personal musical vision and pop stardom. As part of Billboard's Legendary Sessions series, Englishman Colin Irwin does a comprehensive job of telling the story of this monumental album through its historical context, Dylan's unorthodox creative process in the studio, the actual recording of each song, the musicians and producers involved, and the ultimate seismic effect his work had on the music world. Suze Rotolo, meanwhile, was present at one of the Highway 61 sessions, but doesn't remember much, devoting only a couple of pages to it in her new memoir. Pictured with Dylan on the iconic cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Rotolo was his girlfriend during his early-1960s folkie years in Greenwich Village, and therefore her unique perspective on the man and the scene is compelling. To her credit, this isn't a gossipy exploitation. Dylan's the main attraction, of course, but Rotolo has a rich, intriguing life story of her own, one in which her involvement in modern art, avant-garde theatre, and leftist politics no doubt influenced a young, impressionable Dylan. Rotolo was largely out of Dylan's life by 1966 and doesn't appear in any of the exquisite black-and-white photos that document his Blonde on Blonde tour of the UK that year. These rare tour pictures make up most of photographer Barry Feinstein's stunning coffeetable collection. The man credited with the cover shot for The Times They Are A-Changin' also captures some intimate moments from Dylan's 1974 tour with the Band.

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