Publishers:
The Viking Press, NY - 1977
Penquin Books, NY - 1978

Limelight Editions, NY - 1987

Da Capo Press, Boulder, CO - 2004

Sanctuary Publishing LTD, UK - 2005

Omnibus Press, UK - 2010
Kawade Shobo Shinsha, Japan, 2010
 
Description:

In the autumn of 1975, Bob Dylan and his Rolling Thunder Revue-a rag-tag variety show that Dylan envisioned as a traveling gypsy circus toured twenty-two cities across the Northeast. Swept up in the motley crew, which included Joni Mitchell, Mick Ronson, Allen Ginsberg, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, and Ramblin' Jack Elliot, was playwright Sam Shepard, ostensibly hired to write, on the spot, the script for a Fellini-esque, surreal movie that would come out of the tour. The script never materialized, but throughout the many moods and moments of his travels with Dylan and his troupe, Shepard kept an impressionistic Rolling Thunder Logbook of life on the road. Illuminated by forty candid photographs by official tour photographer Ken Regan, Shepard's mental-snap shots capture the camaraderie, isolation, head games, and pill-popping mayhem of the tour, providing a window into Dylan's singular talent, enigmatic charisma, and vision of America.

 
Excerpts

"Myth is a powerful medium because it talks to the emotions and not to the head. It moves us into an area of mystery. Some myths are poisonous to believe in, but others have the capacity for changing something inside us, even if it's only for a minute or two. Dylan creates a mythic atmosphere out of the land around us. The land we walk on every day and never see until someone shows it to us." (p.62)

"Dylan has invented himself. He's made himself up from scratch. That is, from the things he had around him and inside him. Dylan is an invention of his own mind. The point isn't to figure him out but to take him in. He gets into you anyway, so why not just take him in? He's not the first one to have invented himself, but he's the first one to have invented Dylan." (p. 100)

 
Photographs of Sam on tour
 
Reviews

"A great read" ...Harp, November 2004

"A narrative collage of short stories, notes, poems, hypothetical film scenes, and fan's dreams...visually and intellectually vivid writing." ...Flaunt Magazine, March 2005

"Entertaining as well as a fascinating look at a particular cultural moment."  ...Creative Loafing-Charlotte, January 2005

"Everyone was pretty stoned at the time, so the book is a bit strange." ...Library Journal, September 2004

"Fascinating because it skips the minutiae and offers its own moodily entertaining narrative... Shepard captures Dylan and his motley circle."  ...New York Times Book Review, October 2004

"Shepard is equally wise to Dylan's fundamental mystery and his rock star bullshit. Shepard's vignettes are part awe, part irony." ...Relix February/March 2005

"[A] fascinating book filled with snippets of dialogue, lists, and random chunks of narrative."  ...St. Paul Pioneer Press, January 2005

"Press notices for Bob Dylan & Friends' Rolling Thunder Revue went from rapturous to outright cynical in the space of a few months. Playwright Shepard traveled with the entourage of the pilgrim harlequins, warlocks, gypsies, and Sioux warriors in the first weeks of joyous camaraderie. He was part of a film crew that never quite managed to render the road show on celluloid. Ain't it always the way. No matter, the 'fractured' notes, set down as Rolling Thunder careened through Bicentennial New England, capture the frenzied energy of things well enough. The elusive centrepiece is always Dylan, who is an Alchemist and a one-man vanishing act perpetually in motion, able to stun even a lardy group of Mah-Jongg-playing matrons in off-season Falmouth, Mass. Allen Ginsberg, Joan Baez, and a flock of musicians join in, and Shepard is all prepared to plunge headlong into mythic realms, but the cheesy motels and donut stops intrude a more mundane note. Even so, there are special scenes - Dylan and Ginsberg at Jack Kerouac's grave, a late-night visitation to a Shaker house embalmed out of time. Ninety-plus photographs of the vagabond musicians working hard at being irrepressible are included for stragglers who missed the party the first time around."   ...Kirkus Review

"The medicine show took off for New England, trailing a film crew plus Sam Shepard, hired to write the screenplay. 'None of this has to connect,' the singer told the playwright; 'in fact it's better if it doesn't connect'. As anyone who sat through the four-hour home movie that was 'Renaldo and Clara' knows, it didn't connect - but it did contain some great moments and magical music. All Shepard had to show for his part in the madness was The Rolling Thunder Logbook, originally published in 1977 and available in Britain only as a rare import. Impressionistic or merely chaotic, depending on your view, Shepard's book captures something of the spontaneity of the tour, though his weariness at the mayhem taints the fractured narrative.  ...Liz Thomson, The Independent