Through the lens of four seminal concerts, acclaimed poet and biographer Daniel Mark Epstein offers an intimate, nuanced look at Bob Dylan: a vivid, full-bodied portrait of one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, from his birth to the Never Ending Tour.
Beginning with 1963s Lisner Auditorium concert in Washington, D.C., Epstein revisits Dylans astonishing rise as the darling of the folk revival, focusing on the people and books that shaped him, and his struggle to find artistic direction on the road in the 1960s. Madison Square Garden, 1974, sheds light on Dylans transition from folk icon to rock star, his family life in seclusion, his subsequent divorce, and his highly anticipated return to touring. Tanglewood, 1997, reveals how Dylan revived his flagging career in the late 1990slargely under the influence of Jerry Garciadiscovering new ways of singing and connecting with his audience, and assembling the great bands for his Never Ending Tour. In a breathtaking account of the Time Out of Mind sessions, Epstein provides the most complete picture yet of Dylans contemporary work in the studio, his acceptance of his laurels, and his role as the Éminence grise of rock and roll today. Aberdeen, 2009, brings us full circle, detailing the making of Dylans triumphant albums of the 2000s, as well as his long-running radio show.
Drawing on anecdotes and insights from new interviews with those closest to the manincluding Maria Muldaur, Happy Traum, D. A. Pennebaker, Nora Guthrie, Ramblin Jack Elliott, and Dylans sidemen throughout the yearsThe Ballad of Bob Dylan is a singular take on an artist who has transformed generations and, as he enters his eighth decade, continues to inspire and surprise today.
“What sets Epstein’s book apart is its accessibility. . . . Epstein is refreshingly direct and approachable, and while the author, also a folk musician, makes much of his extensive quotes from Dylan’s lyrics, it is his own clear, emotional enthusiasm that carries the tale.”
-Rob Fitzpatrick, Sunday Times (London)
“If you like Keith Richards’ Life, then read The Ballad of Bob Dylan. Just in time for the musician’s 70th birthday, Daniel Mark Epstein’s biography offers a vivid portrait of the visionary artist.”
“Offers a portrait that explodes the semi-hostile cliché of much unauthorized biography. New interviews and photographs add depth to an account distinguished by a fine sensitivity to all aspects of Dylan’s art, from the personal to the music’s history.”
-Tim Martin, Telegraph (London)
“Brilliant—that Daniel Mark Epstein is both a poet and a biographer stands him in good stead in this penetrating, compassionate (but utterly clear-eyed), beautifully written portrait of Bob Dylan as an artist and a man. Among the very best writing about Dylan, ever.”
-James Kaplan, author of Frank: The Voice
“In The Ballad of Bob Dylan, Daniel Mark Epstein does what few have been able to do at all, much less this well: capture that spirit, and in so doing, somehow manage to get closer to the essence of an American icon.”
-Dave Moyer, New York Journal of Books