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Down the Highway (The Life of Bob Dylan)

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,036 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
Bob Dylan stands out with Elvis Presley and The Beatles in a triumvirate of popular-music artists of unparalleled achievements, influence and public fascination. He changed popular music in the 1960s, and helped define that decade with songs 'Blowin' in the Wind' and 'Like a Rolling Stone'. Yet he resisted those who attempted to define him. An aratist of indomitable energy ...more
Published March 4th 2002 by Black Swan (first published April 2nd 2001)
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Jun 22, 2013 Still rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is possibly my all-time favorite Dylan bio.

It's gossipy and deliciously so: how many children by how many different women do you think Bob has?

Why did Bob Dylan start his own publishing company (Dwarf Music) in January of 1966 and how did he come to name it "Dwarf"?

How many roads must a man walk down before he finds out what price you have to pay to get out of going through all "these things" twice?

After reading this you'll find yourself unable to declare in regards to Bob Dylan: nothing wa
James Lundy
Apr 23, 2008 James Lundy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Diggers of dirt who speak very little English
I enjoyed reading "Down the Highway" not because it is a well-written book (it isn't) and not because Howard Sounes has any insights into the music of Bob Dylan (he doesn't). I enjoyed the book because this is the first biography of the man that gives the reader a feel for what it's like being Bob Dylan on a day-to-day, year-to-year basis. The three years of research that went into the biography focused more on "digging the dirt" on Dylan rather than Clinton Heylin's (much better executed) book ...more
Jul 18, 2009 Paulina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writer did a great job covering the beginning of Bob's life and fame, but at about the mid 70's he started losing his touch - or the book just got annoying. Yes, there's a lot of information, lots of 'I was with Bob so many years, so I will comment about this' stuff, but it lacks feeling. Where's Dylan the Joker? where's the poetry? Howard Sounes describes the many loves of Bob without any feelings - sometimes I felt as if I was reading a big guest book of Dylan's lovelife, just names and da ...more
Jan 07, 2010 Ryan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is for you if you care more about the tabloid biography, if you care, for instance, more about the women Dylan has bedded than the actual life events and experiences that inspired the artistic output of a master songwriter. You probably should pass on this book if you value the accuracy of little details like the ACTUAL setlist to his seminal Newport "Dylan-goes-electric" show. Sure he did play 'Mr. Tambourine Man' but isn't it more important that he came back onstage and played 'It's ...more
Michele bookloverforever
After reading this, I feel very sorry for Mr.Dylan. He may be blessed with talent and money/property but it does not seem to have brought him happiness. He appears to be a very private person. The author does not appear to have interviewed either Mr. Dylan or his immediate family and is on the outside looking into a very complicated individual. But then, great artists are usually complicated. The respect this author has for Mr. Dylan's music is profound and that comes through loud and clear. Jus ...more
Apr 26, 2012 Mat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a pretty good biography on Dylan and the first one I read on our 20th century bard. While the bio by Heylin is more detailed overall, there are some interesting stories in here about Dylan when he was growing up that did not appear in Behind the Shades.
Sounes is also a lot less arrogant than Heylin but Heylin is undoubtedly a better biographer (even though I wish he would stop being so subjective in his analysis of Bob's albums).
This is a good place to start if you want to find about
When I saw this book on the bookstore I didn't really know why but I knew I had to buy this book, it was some kind of an instinct, I guess. At that time the only thing I knew about Bob Dylan was - he had written Knocking on Heaven's door . But now, after finishing this book I feel like I know everything about this great man/artist.
I thought the story was brilliant. I am amazed by how the author could write all of this information without contacting Bob Dylan himself but, damn, he had access to
Dave Schwensen
May 05, 2015 Dave Schwensen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was meant to be the definitive biography of Bob Dylan to mark his 60th birthday in 2001. In the years since, as he hit his 70th year and beyond, it still stands as an extremely well-researched and insightful look at a man who has done his best to remain mysterious and elusive as a celebrity, while keeping his private life shrouded in almost total secrecy.
For more than half a century Dylan’s songs have been listened to, shared, studied and analyzed as if they were micro-insights into the th
Duncan Simpson
One of a number of good biographies of Dylan, this one is recent and up to date. To find a new angle on Dylan though is difficult, especially as the man himself continues to be an enigma. Sounes digs into the past and comes up with a more personal angle on Dylan than most biographers, by interviewing those who have shared Dylan's life on the road and who remain willing to speak. Many of them are disaffected. Their comments give the book a scurrilous flavour, despite Sounes' efforts to avoid dish ...more
Ted Newell
Jun 19, 2015 Ted Newell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think Sounes stopped admiring Dylan somewhere about page 450. A great corrective to Dylan's own Chronicles if anyone thought Chronicles told the straight goods. Sara took a lot of c--p after 1972 I d be guessing. The songs after Time Out of Mind *(1997) put anything older in the shade, compel listening, but I just think "womanizer" when I listen to the 60s and 70s stuff except for the Basement Tapes (1967). Well, who knows what relation to reality any of this reflection has: the movie "I'm Not ...more
Bo Olsen
Dec 11, 2014 Bo Olsen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember getting my mom to drive me to the TV & Radio repair store to get his first album, that's where we got all our 45's and albums. I've always been astounded by his lyrics that just flow from his brain, his interpretation of what was going on outside his window, allowing you to see what was happening in a different light. What this book did was open your eyes to see what was going on while you were enjoying the music through each time period and how and why Bob Dylan's life changed an ...more
Dec 03, 2009 Walter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
of the three biographies of Dylan, it's the best I've read.
Perry Whitford
Jan 28, 2016 Perry Whitford rated it liked it
Down the Highway distinguishes itself from the hundredweight of Dylan biographies available on the market.

This is because Sounes somehow managed to get the greatest number of first hand accounts from childhood friends, early lovers, allies and enemies from his formative years in Hibbing, Dinkeytown and Greenwich Village, at the same time doing the exhaustive "births deaths and marriages" paper chase which helped him to uncover some long-held secrets about his private life.

His biggest journalisti
Oct 29, 2012 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Sounes is a journalist turned biographer who writes serviceable prose and provides a balanced, if not insightful, survey of Dylan’s personal and professional lives. He boasts some new discoveries, marriage and birth date information for wives and children, that don’t add to whatever understanding the reader may have of Dylan from his work and the half century of media coverage he has garnered. Dylan is aloof and intensely private. Sounes conducted a number of interviews but none with Dylan himse ...more
Oct 03, 2013 Rodney rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked Sounes's bio of Bukowski and I have been a big Dylan follower since I was a teenager, so reading this one was a given. I enjoyed the newer information about Dylan's personal life and the details that come out in his interviews with many (like 250) of people who knew Dylan or at least obsessed about his every move for 40 years.
This book is not flawlessly written by any means. At times it is self-important and the writing style itself seemed to me to be far inferior to Sounes's effo
Mar 24, 2009 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A poorly written but fairly informative Bob book. Sounes was able to round up interviews with a bunch of people who've never gone on record before (including one Bruce Dorfman, who married my dad's first wife shortly after the period described in this book), but he fails to offer much substance, just fact after fact. Towards the end of the book you can tell Sounes is just describing Dylan shows he himself attended as though those moments are somehow significant moments in Dylan's life. There are ...more
Yoan Zapryanov
Sep 11, 2015 Yoan Zapryanov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of those rare autobiographies, that catch entirely the spirit of the artist. In the interesting part of Dylan's career - it's magnificent. In the 'slow days' (the 80s mostly) - not so much.

It's up there with Room full of Mirrors and Hammer of the Gods - only topped by Life (Keith Richards), but that's because it's written by Richards himself.
Apr 22, 2008 Melissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dylan Fans
Recommended to Melissa by: Joanna Rose
The author of this admits that he got a lot of information from other sources and admits that Bob Dylan himself was not willing to comment (but of course he wouldn't). However when reading the accounts of Dylan's life it seems like the author was present. I laugh out loud at some of the interesting comments Dylan has made to press. One specific comment that is in the book is a response Dylan had to a reporter during an interview from Playboy (in the 60s) the reporter asked Dylan what his "songs ...more
David Hutchins
Mar 05, 2016 David Hutchins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well-researched account of Bob's fascinating life, from his parents' lives up to 2012 or so. First book to report of Bob's mid-1980's marriage to one of his backup singers and their daughter. It does a terrific job telling his life story, and is very enjoyable, but for deep analysis of his writings or music one must look elsewhere.
Don MacLeod
Nov 18, 2014 Don MacLeod rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a fan of Dylan's music, but didn't know much about Dylan's background. I enjoyed reading this biography, especially the insight into Dylan the person. It changed my perception of who Dylan is. I find that I've become even more of a fan since reading the book.
Oct 27, 2013 Dachi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There shouldn't be. Dylan's tale has been so frequently told, his works so extensively analysed, his associates so exhaustively interviewed, that even a life as carefully cloaked as his must surely have few further secrets to yield - in pop terms, only the Beatles can boast a comparable list of biography and criticism. But while the Fabs' story ended 20 or 30 years ago, Dylan's continues to ramble on. Just last month, he picked up his first Oscar - for 'Things Have Changed', the bleak hymn of di ...more
Feb 19, 2013 Steven rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Howard Sounes is a clunky writer with very little to say about Dylan's music, and nothing to offer by way of analysis or fresh perspectives. He is, however, a relentless schlepper of facts, and alone among Dylan biographers he had the gumption to track down and confront William Zantzinger, the sleazeball target of Dylan's scathing protest song "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll." (I leave you to discover the very amusing result.) Clinton Heylin's book is still the one to beat, but Sounes does ...more
Apr 19, 2015 Annette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most gifted songwriter/musical poets, enigmatic and flawed guy! Love seeing his influences in alternative folk and alternative rock of today.
John Pilecki
Jan 26, 2014 John Pilecki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a library of books about Bob Dylan, I have read most of them, and this one is the best. Mr. Sounes obviously did his research first-hand and presents all phases of Dylan's career and life - from childhood to advancing age - in a clear eyed style that is respectful and highly appreciative, not intrusive and fawning, as some life accounts of this man's musical accomplishments and personal life have been. Highly recommended for both inveterate fans and readers who want to know more about o ...more
Dec 15, 2009 Mmaznio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While Bob Dylan is one of my favorite artists I had never read any books about him except for the one he wrote (chronicles). I found this book really informative with lots of info about specific albums and songs. It also had some really good info about other periods of his life besides the 60's. It's worth noting that Bob was never interviewed by this author. Instead he got all of his info from previouus Dylan interviews and first hand interviews with many people directly involved in his life. O ...more
Craig Werner
Nov 15, 2011 Craig Werner rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, sixties
Probably the best biography of Dylan which is both real praise and a commentary on the state of Dylan biography. Sounes does a nice job boiling down the known story, mixes in a few new details, and brings the story up to 2011 (the first edition was published a decade or so ago). But in comparison with Jonathan Gould's Beatles bio or Dave Marsh's books on Springsteen, Down the Highway's kind of pedestrian. Bob Spitz's Dylan bio has more detail about some key moments, but the tone is so irritating ...more
Aug 27, 2014 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books
An excellent view into Dylan. I recommend this book.
Jessica Kjeldsen
thoroughly researched and paints a vivid picture
Feb 21, 2016 Chad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came into this book not necessarily as a Dylan fan but more so interested in his impact on popular music over the last 50 years or so. The author did a nice job of keeping you interested without getting too bogged down in the minutiae. I would recommend the book to any music lover.
A very good biography of Bob Dylan, revealing little-known aspects of the life of this enigmatic genius - including his second marriage to his back-up singer, Carolyn Dennis, and the birth of his sixth child, Gabrielle Desiree Dennis-Dylan, and his ownership of a coffee shop in Santa Monica. This biography does a good job of balancing the reader's desire to know some intimate details of the man's life without going into yucky expose type digging. I especially like the chapters on his later years ...more
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I have written biographies of a wide range of extraordinary personalities - including the murderers Fred and Rosemary West (Fred & Rose), the American poet Charles Bukowski (Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life) and the singer-songwriters Bob Dylan (Down the Highway) and Lou Reed (Notes from the Velvet Underground). Each book is based on extensive original research.

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