Sam Shepard’s Rolling Thunder Logbook
The scent of rock & roll literature lingers in the air these days. Today I scanned my music bookshelf, and pulled down a copy of Sam Shepard’s The Rolling Thunder Logbook. Shepard traveled with Bob Dylan on his Rolling Thunder tour in the mid-70s. Shepard was hired as a writer for the film Dylan was making, which turned out to be Renaldo & Clara.
T-Bone Burnett wrote a foreword for the 2004 reprint of the book. Burnett wrote: “I thought Sam was there to write a movie. One of the things I found out is that he was writing this book. Had I known that, I might have been a little more circumspect in our communications. Nevertheless, I am deeply grateful to him for chronicling this extraordinary time. None of us was ever quite the same.”
Every page reveals another angle and character on the inimitable tour. Shepard captures Bob Dylan's power while the band relaxed at The Seacrest Hotel in Falmouth, Massachusetts: “Dylan moves up on the platform to the rickety old upright piano used for years for the sole purpose of producing middle class pabulum Big Band sounds of the ‘30s and ‘40s. He sits, stabs his bony fingers into the ivories, and begins a pounding version of ‘Simple Twist of Fate.’ Here’s where it’s at. The Master Arsonist. The place is smoking within five minutes. The ladies are twitching deep within their corsets. The whole piano is shaking and seems on the verge of jumping right off the wooden platforms. Dylan’s cowboy heel is driving a hole through the floor. Roger McGuinn appears with the guitar, then Neuwirth, and the whole band joins in until every molecule of air in the place is bursting. This is Dylan’s true magic. Leave aside his lyrical genius for a second and just watch this transformation of energy which he carries…”
If you’re a Bob Dylan or Sam Shepard fan, The Rolling Thunder Logbook counts as an essential item for your collection.