No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan

Robert Shelton, edited by Elizabeth Thomson and Patrick Humphries. Backbeat/Hal Leonard, $35 (352p) ISBN 978-1-61713-012-0
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. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/09/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
Hardcover - 368 pages - 978-1-84938-911-2
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-61713-080-9
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