Cover image for Hard rain : a Dylan commentary
Hard rain : a Dylan commentary
Riley, Tim.
Personal Author:
Updated edition, first Da Capo Press edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Da Capo Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
viii, 366 pages ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML420.D98 R54 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
ML420.D98 R54 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Hard Rain ranges over thirty years of Bob Dylan's recordings, films, and concerts to deliver astute insights into--and sometimes heretical judgements of--his prodigious corpus of work. This updated edition includes a new epilogue that examines Dylan's thirtieth anniversary celebration in 1992; his albums Good As I Been to You, World Gone Wrong, and Time Out of Mind; his 1997 performance before the Pope; and his 1998 Grammy Award comeback. The result is unparalleled rock criticism.

Author Notes

Tim Riley is a web producer, campus speaker, and pianist. His music criticism has appeared in the Washington Post , in Boston magazine, and on National Public Radio. He is also a music commentator for NPR's "Here and Now." He lives in Boston.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Riley's Tell Me Why [BKL Ap 15 88] examined the songs and impact of the Beatles. Now he performs a similar task for another 1960s icon, Bob Dylan. He traces the singer-songwriter's influences (his observations on Dylan's debt to Woody Guthrie are particularly valuable) and offers insightful interpretations of the bulk of his songs. Unlike many Dylan commentators, who focus mostly on the lyrics, Riley gives due credit to Dylan's musical development and properly praises Dylan's oft-derided vocal abilities. Dylan never had anywhere near the popular success of Riley's previous subjects, and his artistic decline of the last 15 years (unlike the Beatles, he didn't have the grace to hang it up in the early 1970s) makes it easy to forget just how important he was to popular music. But Riley reminds us how strong his influence has been--as he points out, you can't explain Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen without referring to Dylan--and the steady flow of books on him attests to his continued significance. This is one of the better ones and complements the several new biographies that have appeared in the past few years. ~--Gordon Flagg

Publisher's Weekly Review

Riley eloquently but incompletely examines rock legend Bob Dylan's three decades of inconsistent work, bootleg recordings and continuous concerts. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Unlike most Dylan books--which are either biographies like Clinton Heylin's Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades ( LJ 6/1/91) or lists of some sort--Riley ( Tell Me Why: A Beatles Commentary , Knopf, 1988) here provides a critical examination of this thorniest of modern musicians. Riley goes beyond the obvious; for example, Woody Guthrie's influence on Dylan is well documented, but Riley examines not only how Guthrie inspired Dylan but what Dylan does differently from Guthrie and who else falls into his inspirational canon (Robert Johnson, Leadbelly, Hank Williams). Riley knows music, and his descriptions are marvelous, especially of the 1966-75 era ( Blonde on Blonde , The Basement Tapes , Planet Waves , Blood on the Tracks , and the 1966 and 1974 tours). He also is thankfully unafraid to be disparaging; unlike Heylin, he has very little that is nice to say about Dylan's post-1975 work. Riley's flaws are mainly stylistic; he tends to repeat himself and has an unfortunate fondness for the word bromide. Still, this is an incisive work. Essential for most music collections.-- Keith R.A. DeCandido, ``Library Journal'' (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.