This detailed and informative new book is ideal for Bob Dylan fans looking to retrace his steps in London.
Filled with fascinating anecdotes about Bob Dylan’s visits to London from 1962 onwards, Jackie Lees and KG Miles have created a warm and easy to read book that also plays out like a love letter to London and its many music venues.
Neatly and concisely written, it is clear that the pair have gone to great depths to research both London and Bob Dylan’s concerts and other experiences in the city over the years, showing just how closely interlinked the capital and songwriter were.
Using plenty of examples, readers are given a real insight into how London and the audiences he had in his concerts across the UK gave him a real direction in the music he was going to create. In particular, an encounter with Robert Graves captured his creativity in creating music with the strength of a poetic style narrative that fascinated his fans over the years.
But equally in turn, Bob Dylan in London highlights the growing impact the singer had on the music scene in the 1960’s, particularly shown in the recounting of the filming for the Subterranean Homesick Blues – which will particularly delight music history fans.
From start to finish, both Lees and Miles really emphasise that this is a journey and both authors really invite the reader along – particularly when recounting the early history of the areas of London that we encounter along the way. For those less certain about the locations, there is a really helpful map that helps to put it into context – and one day being able to retrace the steps that Dylan took, even if some places are no longer in existence.
Along the way, readers are taken to Camden, the Royal Albert Hall and Earl’s Court among many places – all of which are vividly brought to life in the descriptions that have been gracefully put together. It all makes you feel as though you are walking alongside Bob Dylan and experiencing the city for the first time and seeing it through a different perspective.
It all feels very nostalgic, particularly when it comes to the descriptions of some of the concerts that Dylan performed – even if some of the reaction of the concerts were negatively received by the audience when he changed his style. This being said, there are quite a few references at the beginning about all of the clubs that he was “said to have visited” – perhaps mentioning one or two is fine – but it all becomes a little bit much and loses a little focus in the bigger context.
But it is certainly a book that has many different layers to it – even if you are not a particularly huge Bob Dylan fan. It covers elements of musical history and the history of London as well to make for interesting and rewarding reading.
Bob Dylan in London: Troubadour Tales is a lively and fascinating read that is certainly worth any Bob Dylan fans time to read.
By Emma Clarendon
Bob Dylan in London: Troubadour Tales is available to buy now.