“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.”
– Sam Shepard (Rolling Thunder logbook)
Sam Shepard, was an American playwright, actor, author, screenwriter, and director, whose body of work spanned over half a century. He was the author of forty-four plays as well as several books of short stories, essays, and memoirs. Shepard received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff (1983). Shepard received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award as a master American dramatist in 2009. New York described him as “the greatest American playwright of his generation.”
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.
– Sam Shepard website
Shepard died on July 27, 2017 at his home in Kentucky, aged 73, from complications due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
He also wrote the amazing song Brownsville Girl with Bob Dylan.
Here are three wonderful version in honour of Mr. Shepard.
Brownsville Girl (only live version, 8/6/86), short but sweet clip:
Will Oldham aka Bonnie Prince Billy performing with the Motherlodge crew. Recorded at Actors Theatre in Louisville on November 11, 2012: