Clinton Heylin has a Web site! I assume this is a new development, since he was one of the authors I wanted to blogroll as soon as I started doing my thing on the Intertubes, but could find no Web presence until now. Heylin goes into the Good Writes blogroll section immediately.
Heylin’s biography of Bob Dylan, Behind the Shades, is the best and most comprehensive work on His Bobness to date, and his history of bootleg recordings is a valuable work of pop culture scholarship. Heylin’s other books include a biography of folk goddess Sandy Denny, a history of punk rock, and valuable books about the Velvet Underground, the Sex Pistols, the Beatles and Orson Welles’ battles with Hollywood.
Heylin’s latest book, Revolution in the Air, addresses Dylan’s growth as an artist by analyzing each of his songs in the order of composition — a typically ambitious and opinionated undertaking. Unlike so many writers captivated by Dylan’s work, Heylin eschews hagiography and fannish gushing. This makes him anathema to many Bobcats, but in my book it makes him and Michael Gray the two most reliable and informative writers on Dylan now in print. (Neither man may be pleased by this pairing: Gray’s Bob Dylan Encylopedia occasionally tweaks Heylin for his elbows-out style, buyt c’mon guys, we’re all friends here, right? Right?)
It will surprise no one except A.S. Byatt and David Hare that the man who has delved so usefully into the lyrics of Bob Dylan also has a book out about Shakespeare’s sonnets. Now that I’ll want to read, too.