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Bob Dylan: a new bio for your birthday

Bob Dylan turns 70 today, and to celebrate, you can place your order for a new bio by Baltimorean Daniel Mark Epstein. "The Ballad of Bob Dylan" uses four concerts to examine the raspy-voiced singer's long career and his ever-shifting musical style.

Here's how publisher Harper Collins describes it: "Beginning with 1963's Lisner Auditorium concert in Washington, D.C., Epstein revisits Dylan's astonishing rise as the darling of the folk revival, focusing on the people and books that shaped him, and his struggle to find artistic direction on the road in the 1960s. Madison Square Garden, 1974, sheds light on Dylan's transition from folk icon to rock star, his family life in seclusion, his subsequent divorce, and his highly anticipated return to touring. Tanglewood, 1997, reveals how Dylan revived his flagging career in the late 1990s—largely under the influence of Jerry Garcia—discovering new ways of singing and connecting with his audience, and assembling the great bands for his Never Ending Tour."

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I never saw Dylan in concert, but his music was burned into my brain during a 24-hour college car trip from Connecticut to Florida, when we blasted his

album over and over and over and over and ...

As for Epstein, who is an accomplished poet and biographer (with subjects as diverse as Abraham Lincoln, Nat King Cole and Edna St. Vincent Millay), my best memories are playing hoops with him at the Downtown Athletic Club -- when we were both much younger. Not a bad jump shot for an author.

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