John Bauldie’s previously-unpublished work of forensic insight into Bob Dylan’s unique artistic journey.
On his untimely death at 47 years old in October 1996, not only did John Bauldie sit at the what could be called the high table of Dylan Studies, but from the early nineties, when he was invited by Dylan’s management to write the liner notes that accompanied the Bootleg Series Volume 1-3, many would attest that he was chairman of the board.
In his lifetime, John Bauldie was a giant amongst Bob Dylan fans and collectors. As the editor of The Telegraph, he was a voracious advocate for Dylan to be afforded the respect of a major artist and an early lobbyist for him to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Yet, despite creating the Wanted Man Study Series to encourage analysis of Dylan’s work, Bauldie never published his own full critical study, though regular subscribers to The Telegraph knew he had completed one. A few teasing extracts and a handful of mysterious mentions revealed the existence of this fabled manuscript, The Chameleon Poet, which has remained unpublished until now.
Covering the formative span of Dylan’s career from his emergence in the early sixties to his conversion to Christianity in the late seventies, The Chameleon Poet traces each step in the development of the artist and man from youth to maturity. With scholarly precision and vivid clarity, Bauldie’s analysis of Dylan’s work reveals a continuous journey.
Forty years on, as a Nobel Laureate, Bob Dylan’s position as one of the great artists of the age is secure, fulfilling Bauldie’s vision. Now it is time to read the only full-length critical study by the foremost champion of Dylan’s art. The Chameleon Poet is a book of its time, but such is its focus on the inner journey of everyman, it’s as relevant today as it was yesterday, and will be tomorrow.
Bill Allison’s introduction sketches a portrait of Bauldie’s life and his ascendancy in the world of Dylan Studies.
‘I read The Chameleon Poet in 1981, and spent most of the rest of the decade trying to persuade John to publish it. Well, it only took forty years, but now you can read it, too.’ – Clinton Heylin
John Bauldie was raised in the northern English town of Bolton. Throughout the seventies, alongside his work as a lecturer in English literature, he was an avid collector of rare and unreleased Bob Dylan recordings. In the eighties, he established The Telegraph, a popular quarterly journal of Dylan studies, which he edited from 1981 until his tragic death in 1996. He was a staff writer at Q magazine and Mojo, edited several books, and wrote the liner notes for Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 box set, for which he received a Grammy nomination.
Bill Allison was a close friend of John Bauldie. They had a shared love of Bolton Wanderers and Bob Dylan, in that order. John often said that their lives were as intertwined as spaghetti. Bill wrote extensively for The Telegraph, and later for The Bridge. Bill lives near Blackpool with his wife, Julia, and their daughters, Lucy and Helen.
ADVANCE COPIES: We will be shipping advance copies of the First Edition Hardback of The Chameleon Poet in mid-January 2021. (The book won’t go on general release until May 2021). To be amongst the first to read it, click here to pre-order your copy.