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Down The Highway: The Life Of Bob Dylan [Paperback]

Howard Sounes
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Down the Highway delves into the life of Bob Dylan, one of popular music's enduring legends. In the course of his 40-year career he has sold more than 56 million records, has performed countless live gigs, has long been regarded as the preeminent songwriter of his time and yet he is still an enigma. Despite dragging his increasingly raddled body through a gigging schedule that would exhaust a musician a third his age, he remains notoriously reclusive. And to be frank, no-one reading Down the Highway will know him that much better by the end. The Bob Dylan rockography business has been a hugely profitable industry over the years and Howard Sounes' book is a worthy addition. It quotes chapter and verse on all the important--and unimportant--details of Dylan's life from his early days as poet/folk troubadour through his switch to electric guitar, to drugs, films and superstardom. The research is exhaustive and much of it is new: Sounes has tried to chat to everyone who was even tangentally involved in Dylan's career and goes into depth about his secret marriage to backing singer Carolyn Dennis in 1986. But what the book amounts to is an extraordinary collection of facts about the singer, but only a vague sense of what makes him tick. Dylan has always been a man who has preferred to let his music and lyrics do the talking; either Dylan refused permission or demanded an exorbitant sum to reprint them, but the absence of any lyrics leaves a noticeable hole in the text for the less knowledgeable or fanatical reader. It will be less of a problem, though, for the diehard Dylan fans, and for them Sounes' biography will be a crucial must-have buy. For the rest of us, it will be a book too far. --John Crace --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Praise for "Down the Highway" "Sounes [has] produced [a] fascinating and finely written account of Dylan's life and times, while managing at the same time to provide interesting evaluations of his music and cultural contribution."--"The New Republic" "Sounes . . . pieces together testimony and circumstantial evidence into a fairly detailed account of Dylan's wreck. . . . It's the kind of thing Sounes does well, opening new angles on the enigmatic polyhedron that is Dylan."--"The Nation" "[Sounes] offers information that, in sheer quantity, supersedes prior accounts."--"The New York Times Book Review" "Sounes' book has the definite virtue of being the last one you'll ever need to read about Dylan."--"Salon" "With little sensationalism, the inscrutable and intensely private Dylan is dissected, measured, and categorized."--"Esquire" "[Sounes] has scoured court documents and interviewed friends, family, lovers, band members and anyone else who hads

Book Description

Published for his 60th birthday, the first complete biography of a legend.

From the Back Cover

The full, fascinating story of the life and work of Bob Dylan is revealed as never before in Down the Highway. Acclaimed biographer Howard Sounes interviewed more than 250 key people in Dylan's life - including fellow musicians, lovers and family members - and gained access to previously unseen documentary material. From this mass of exclusive information he has constructed a compelling, engagingly fast-paced and revelatory biography, taking the reader on a journey from Dylan's childhood in a Minnesota mining town to his life in the present day. It is essential reading for anybody who has ever owned a Dylan album.

About the Author

Howard Sounes is the author of Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life (1999) and of Fred & Rose(1995), the bestselling account of the lives and crimes of Fred and Rosemary West which enabled him to leave his job as a journalist with the Mirror to become a full-time writer.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The man's walk was weirdly jaunty, like a puppet on invisible strings. His head seemed to move to its own rhythm. He wore ill-fitting clothes, which made him look out of place in a fashionable district of Manhattan, almost the garb of a homeless person. If one looked closely, however, the clothes appeared new. If one looked closer still at the sallow, half-bearded face, this slightly built, middle-aged man seemed familiar. Under the hat there was the distinctive hooked nose, the delicate features framed with wisps of beard. When he went to scratch his nose, his finger-nails were very long and dirty. When he looked to cross the street, his eyes were seen to be vivid blue, bluer than robins’ eggs. “You’re Bob Dylan!” People often recognized him, yelling out excited greetings, not quite believing they were seeing a legend on the street. Bob hated it when they grabbed at him, but he was at heart a polite Midwesterner and he did not mind saying hello. When he spoke—just to say, perhaps, “Hey, man, how are ya doin’?”- his voice was so distinctive, with words pushed up from his diaphragm in bursts and then seemingly squeezed out through his almost comical nose, emphasizing the wrong word in a sentence and clipping other words short, it could be only Bob Dylan.

Bob came to the corner of 57th Street and Lexington Avenue and entered a small club, Tommy Makem’s Irish Pavilion. Tommy Makem was an old friend from the early 1960s when Bob was learning his trade, a soft-spoken Irishman who had performed traditional folk songs with The Clancy Brothers in the clubs of Greenwich Village, New York. Makem had not seen Bobby—as he knew him—in many years. “There was no one with him, no driver, no companion, no nothing. He was just on his own,” he recalls.

Makem settled Bob at a quiet table, where he would not be seen by other patrons. Then Makem fetched his banjo and got on stage for the show. He performed the old ballads Bob loved, hearty songs like “Brennan on the Moor” and the wistful “Will You Go, Lassie, Go.” There was a break before the second set and Makem went over to where Bob was having something to eat and drink. “If you feel like singing a song, let me know,” he said. But Bob preferred to sit quietly alone. He was enjoying himself greatly. The Irish Pavilion reminded him of his early days in New York and the people he had met there, artists like John Lee Hooker, “Cisco” Houston, and “Big” Joe Williams. These men were monumental in his mind; they had informed and influenced his entire career.

After the audience drifted away, Makem pulled up a chair and he and Bob talked as the staff swept up around their chairs. It was the past Bob wanted to discuss—old friends from the old clubs, people he had not seen in thirty years, and old memories like the evening he ran up to the Irishman on Sixth Avenue excited about a song he had written. “God it must have been 2:30 or 3 o’clock in the morning,” says Makem. “Stopping [to] sing me a long murder ballad that he had written to the tune of some song he had heard Liam [Clancy] and myself singing. There would be twenty verses in it, and he would sing the whole lot for you. I thought, God, it’s a very interesting thing this young fella’s doing.”

A few weeks after Bob’s unexpected visit to the Irish Pavilion, in the spring of 1992, Tommy Makem received a letter from Bob’s record company, Sony Music. Makem was invited to perform at a concert celebrating Bob’s thirty years as a recording artist (although, in fact, he had been making records for thirty-one). Bob had not said a word about it when they met, but that was typical of him; he was never much of a talker. Makem was not sure at first what sort of show this would be. From the low-key way in which Bob padded around town on his own, dressed like a bum, one might think his days as a major star were over, and that a celebration of his career would be held in a modest theater somewhere with a few old friends. “It was extremely glamorous and much more of a huge event than I realized,” says Makem. “It was gigantic.” The venue for Bob’s “Thirtieth Anniversary Concert Celebration,” as it was called, was Madison Square Garden, the huge sports arena in Manhattan. When it was ! announced that Bob would appear with some of the most famous names in music, eighteen thousand seats sold within an hour. This was despite the fact promoters were charging between $50 and $150 a seat, record prices for a concert of its kind. When Makem arrived at the Rihga Royal Hotel, where the musicians were staying, he discovered that the guest list included not only old folkies but superstars such as Eric Clapton and George Harrison, who were devoted friends of Bob. For ten days prior to the show, limousines ferried the artists between the hotel and the Kaufman Astoria Studios for rehearsals. Bob dressed down, for rehearsals, his sweatshirt hood over his head, muttering that he was not sure the concert was a good idea: “It’ll be like goin’ to my own funeral.”

Still, there was great excitement on the evening of Friday October 16, 1992, as the lights in the Garden came up to reveal a huge stage in the shape of a Mexican hacienda. The house band, Booker T. and the M.G.s, began the show with one of Bob’s songs of Christian faith, “Gotta Serve Somebody.” --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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