No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan

No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan

by Robert Shelton

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"Robert Shelton wrote the rave review of Bob Dylan in the New York Times that is generally credited with being the piece that ""discovered"" him in 1961, just after Dylan arrived fresh from Minnesota to"


"Robert Shelton wrote the rave review of Bob Dylan in the New York Times that is generally credited with being the piece that ""discovered"" him in 1961, just after Dylan arrived fresh from Minnesota to"

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Years in the making (some interviews conducted for it date back to the mid'60s), and much of it based on Shelton's personal experience, this hefty book supplants Anthony Scaduto's Bob Dylan as the definitive biography. Shelton was the popular-music columnist for the New York Times from 1958 to 1968, in which capacity he wrote the first attention-drawing reviews of Dylan's coffeehouse gigs in 1961; the position also brought him into close contact with many of the music-industry principals he writes about. A friend of Dylan's and a fan, Shelton succeeds in making this opaque and often irritating person comprehensible, even likable. Dylan has always shrouded himself in mysterioso antics, railed against inconstant friends and fallen into the trap of being one himself (notable instance: turning his back on Joan Baez) and delighted in giving out meaningless, perverse and nasty interviews. Shelton manages to locate the authentic Dylan: the pilgrim seeking enlightenment and salvation, the husband and father, the genius who wrote songs as beautiful as ``Blowin' in the Wind,'' ``Don't Think Twice'' and ``Knockin' on Heaven's Door,'' and as apocalyptic and prophetic as ``Maggie's Farm,'' ``Desolation Row'' and ``Hard Rain.'' The author incorporates a number of lines from Dylan's work into his text, which discusses the man's life and career under subject headings, a format that keeps him from following a strictly chronological order. The book is nevertheless comprehensive and clear. This is first-rate biography and a marvelous re-creation of the music scene of the '60s and later. The text is supplemented with brief analyses of every song, a song index, discography and bibliography, and 16 pages of black-and-white photos (not seen by PW. 50,000 first printing. (September 29)
Library Journal
Dylan's music has been analyzed in numerous books, but until now there has been no attempt at a major biography. His chameleon-like personality, reclusiveness, and hostility toward investigation into his private life have made things difficult for would-be Boswells. He agreed to cooperate with Shelton, a former New York Times music writer and 25-year friend, but the reader pays a price. We learn much more about the music than the man. Three-fourths of the book covers the 1960s, Dylan's most creative period, and Shelton does a fine job capturing the turmoil and excitement of the time. Then he rushes through the next 15 years. There's almost nothing about Dylan's 12-year marriage; his touring schedule gets almost as much space as his religious conversion. The Dylan that emerges from this book is as baffling as ever. Disappointing, but the best life likely to be available for some time. Thom as Jewell, Wal tham P.L., Mass.
Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Hailed by many as the definitive biography but surprisingly out-of-print for over a decade, Shelton's volume is back in a new edition including an additional 20,000 words from the original manuscript, giving fans greater insight into Dylan's formative years and creative process up to 1978. Shelton traces the singer-songwriter's evolution from small town to big city, and chronicles his battles with stardom, the press, and public opinion. Interviews with childhood friends, college roommates, and Dylan's first encounter with Woody Guthrie create an intimate portrait and portray the many sides of Dylan without romance or cliché. Shelton's unfettered access (Shelton's relationship with his subject blurred the line between reporter, friend, and even employee) provides an illuminating perspective on key periods in Dylan's career. An often combative interview subject, the Dylan who interacts with Shelton is thoughtful, sensitive, and fun-loving, far from the curmudgeon that appeared in many articles. The writer's ability to observe and comment, juxtaposed with his personal conversations with Dylan, make for a biography of remarkable depth and insight. Though Shelton's occasional musings on Dylan's place as a philosopher and artist can stretch the point at times, this is an excellent record of Dylan's early years, and a sterling example of how personal a biography can be.
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Product Details

Omnibus Press
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Meet the Author

Robert Shelton (1926-95) wrote about music for the New York Times until the end of the '60s.

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