No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan

Robert Shelton, Author Beech Tree Paperback Book $17.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-05045-0
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)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1989
Release date: 03/01/1989
Paperback - 576 pages - 978-0-306-81287-3
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-345-34721-3
Paperback - 576 pages - 978-0-306-80782-4
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