No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan

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9780345347213: No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan

Robert Shelton met Bob Dylan when the young singer first arrived in New York. He became Dylan's friend, champion, and critic. This book, first published in 1986, was hailed as the definitive unauthorized biography of this moody, passionate genius and his world. Dylan gave Shelton access to his parents, Abe and Beatty Zimmerman - whom no other journalist has ever interviewed in depth; to his brother, David; to childhood friends from Hibbing; to fellow students and friends from Minneapolis; and to Suze Rotolo, the muse immortalized on the cover of Freewheelin', among others. No Direction Home took 20 years to complete and received widespread critical acclaim. Two decades on, Dylan's standing is higher than at any time since the 1960s and Shelton's book is now seen as a classic of the genre. Today, everything Bob Dylan does guarantees saturation media coverage, and a new edition of No Direction Home is long overdue. This new edition, published to coincide with Dylan's 70th birthday on May 24, 2011, restores significant parts of Shelton's original manuscript and also includes key images of Dylan throughout his incredible, enduring career, alongside updated footnotes and bibliography, and a new selective discography, making it a must for all Dylan aficionados.

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Review:

Robert Shelton, a critic for the New York Times in 1961, caught an early Bob Dylan gig at Folk City in Greenwich Village and wrote an effusive review for the newspaper. The coverage in the Times was a huge boost to the career of the then-struggling folksinger, and Shelton and Dylan became friends, seeing each other frequently around the Village folk scene. When Shelton, in the 1980s, finally got around to finishing his full-length biography of Dylan, he could draw upon a wealth of insider stories from the early days. The book is naturally strongest when describing Dylan's early career, from his coffeehouse gigs as a Woody Guthrie disciple to the insanely high artistic peaks of the mid-'60s. A particularly engaging passage concerns a freeform interview Shelton conducted with Dylan as they flew high above the Midwest in early 1966; Shelton's memories of Dylan are essential reading for fans. Shelton saw much less of the notoriously private Dylan as the years passed, and the book loses momentum as he becomes less of an eyewitness and more of a distant observer, though Dylan's story is credibly told up through the mid-1980s. --Robert McNamara

About the Author:

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

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Shelton, Robert
Published by Ballantine Books (1987)
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