Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan

Nenad Georgievski By

Sign in to view read count
On the Road with Bob Dylan
Larry "Ratso" Sloman
461 pages
ISBN: 1400045967
Crown Publishing
1978 (2002)

In the autumn of 1975 singer songwriter Bob Dylan assembled a group of musicians for a variety show tour and this caravan named Rolling Thunder Revue enlisted people like poet Allen Ginsberg, singers Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, Arlo Guhrie, guitarists Mick Ronson, Robbie Robertson and Ramblin' Jack Elliot, and many more. In October 1975, soon after completing Desire, (Columbia, 1976) Dylan held rehearsals for a supporting tour that had been envisioned by Dylan as a travelling gypsy circus. Rolling Thunder is the moment when Dylan rediscovered his muse and put everything he had into a hyper-ambitious, doomed-to- failure roving festival that showcased everything he loved about music and the creative process. Dylan's entourage eventually became known as "Guam" and had its first concert in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and then played a string of intimate venues to small audiences enthralled by this gypsy road show.

With a foreword by musician Kinky Friedman written especially for the reissue in 2002, this book is 460 pages of author Larry "Ratso" Sloman's narrative collage of personal memories, notes, poems, accounts of numerous encounters and a vivid presentation of life on the road. In a plethora of interviews, unique behind-the- scenes accounts, and deconstructions of tour documents, Sloman provides different and often difficult insight into Dylan's most legendary tour and offers analysis of the musical torrents that came pouring forth as the Thunder Rolled. In this unique and highly personal log he writes of events of several months on the road with the assuredness of the quintessential insider and yet with a smart and folksy angle that brings a sharp focus on the madness of the pop music world. The book showcases the ills of a journalist trying to do his best in all kinds of circumstances and is sandwiched between the inhospitality of Dylan's touring management and the demands by the editors whose interests of what is interesting for the readership in the ongoing tour are diametrically opposed to Sloman's. The book also criss- crosses paths with boxer Rubin Hurricane Carter, the boxer that Dylan wrote a protest song for, singer Leonard Cohen and playwright Sam Shephard, who had been invited to write a script for a film of the tour, which evidently had been wildly improvised and eventually released as Renaldo and Clara.

On one side this book is a great account of one of the greatest moments in the history of popular music, but on the flip side it seems that Sloman has put all kinds of ingredients just to be able to write this book. After 200 pages, he litters the next 200 with uninteresting and unnecessary encounters, adventures, misfortunes, occurrences, interviews and empty writing. With a hundred pages less and with better editing this could have been a great book.


More Articles

Read The Blues: Why It Still Hurts So Good Book Reviews The Blues: Why It Still Hurts So Good
by Doug Collette
Published: February 20, 2017
Read The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965 Book Reviews The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 11, 2017
Read Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge Book Reviews Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 21, 2017
Read Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie Book Reviews Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "Charles Lloyd: A Wild, Blatant Truth" Book Reviews Charles Lloyd: A Wild, Blatant Truth
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "Jazz Festival: Jim Marshall" Book Reviews Jazz Festival: Jim Marshall
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Man Of The Light: The Life And Work Of Zbigniew Seifert" Book Reviews Man Of The Light: The Life And Work Of Zbigniew Seifert
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "Stan Levey: Jazz Heavyweight" Book Reviews Stan Levey: Jazz Heavyweight
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 24, 2016
Read "Kickback City: Deluxe Edition" Book Reviews Kickback City: Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: July 24, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!