From Publishers Weekly
The aura that is the real masterpiece of a star dominates this raptly observant, occasionally besotted biography of folk-rock's troubador-prophet. Historian and poet Epstein (The Lincolns) structures his loose-jointed chronicle around exegeses of iconic Dylan concerts he attended, analyzing the songs and the shifting persona of the singer: in 1963, the visionary 22-year-old folkie; in 1974, the bristling 30-something rocker; in 2009, the hoarse old man growling at Fate. It's a canny approach, given that Dylan's mythmaking—the middle-class son of a Minnesota appliance-store owner, he romantically styled himself a wandering orphan—outran the prosaic reality. (Epstein sometimes bemoans the paucity of scandal in his subject's life and reveals that Dylan's storied motorcycle accident occurred when the vehicle simply tipped over as he was walking it down the road.) Unfortunately, Epstein's sharp-eyed evocations of Dylan's onstage presences often bog down in the longueurs of decades of perfunctory touring. Worse, his conviction that Dylan is a great poet whose lyrics "can stand alone on the printed page" is not entirely confirmed by the many stanzas he reprints and dutifully interprets. Epstein's wallow in the master's words and moods will entrance hardcore Dylanophiles, but casual readers may strain to hear the music. Photos. (May)
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“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.” (US Weekly)
“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))
“Brilliantthat 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)