When Anthony Scaduto's Bob Dylan: An Intimate Biography was first published in 1971, the Nobel Prize-winning songwriter had already released some of the most iconic albums of the 1960s. Scaduto's book was one of the first to take an investigative journalist's approach to its subject and set the standard for rock music biography. The Dylan Tapes, compiled from 36 hours of interviews, is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Scaduto's landmark book—and a close-up encounter with pivotal figures in Dylan's life.
A new book that acts as the raw material that became the first comprehensive and serious study of Dylan in book form, Anthony Scaduto’s Bob Dylan: An Intimate Biography ... The result is the equivalent of peeking inside a time capsule that was buried over 50 years ago. We get to visit with those who knew Dylan as intimately as anyone ever could. We read about how he shoveled snow to pay bills while trying to make his way as a folk singer. We develop a better understanding, somewhat, about his desire and need to craft his own story, his history, to others ... The Dylan Tapes reaches its climax, naturally, when Scaduto interviews the man himself ... While the original Scaduto biography still holds up as a landmark moment in the world of rock journalism, The Dylan Tapes acts not as a replacement for it, but as a fascinating peek behind the curtain on how the sausage is made. The Dylan Tapes is rich with unfiltered and unedited conversations with a cast of characters that assisted Dylan, in one way or another, along his path ... As with everything written about, or even by, Bob Dylan, nothing is truly revealed, yet The Dylan Tapes is still an engrossing journey into the research process of one gifted writer as he profiled another.
Published in full, the transcripts are a window into the reporting process, with Scaduto trying to confirm facts with different sources and verify nebulous timelines. It’s also worth noting that several of the interviews include statements that were made off the record or were otherwise not intended for publication. These complications underscore the challenge of defining early-career Bob Dylan, as his own tall tales about his youth and his rapidly changing persona often made it hard to separate facts from fiction ... The Dylan Tapes is a behind-the-scenes view of one of modern music’s true legends—and of one of the first long-form pieces of music journalism.
Fascinating and frustrating ... Reveal[s] rare, personal insights into Dylan’s development in the 1960s before his legend took shape. That said, the raw interviews are disjointed and sometimes contradictory, and there is little effort to contextualize this expansive material, beyond brief biographical sketches by Trudeau. Without the presence of the final Scaduto text (the biography is currently available only digitally), casual readers may become confused ... Though not for newcomers to Dylan’s work, this is a valuable resource for Dylan experts and researchers producing content for future biographies and scholarship.