Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life


Publication date: June 20, 2017

ADVANCE PRAISE for the book:

"Well researched and energetically argued, a challenging new view of a complicated man."
--Eric Alterman, longtime columnist at The Nation; author of What Liberal Media?

"With lucid prose and a compelling narrative, Scott Marshall demonstrates that Bob Dylan's religious sensibilities have been constant throughout his remarkable career, not episodic. This book contributes significantly to our understanding of the enigmatic Nobel laureate."
--Randall Balmer, Emmy Award nominee; author of Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory;
Chair of Religion, Dartmouth College

"I saw Bob Dylan in concert shortly after his conversion experience and was amazed by the raw courage it took to sing those new songs to increasing anger from his old fans and refuse to sing his earlier hits. Eventually he came to understand that he could pick and choose and integrate many of his old songs with the new and march forward as a man of faith. That's the Dylan we meet in Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life."
--Pat Boone, American treasure (one version)

"Scott Marshall, in his book Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life, reflects on the spiritual expressions of one of our country's greatest artists, and there is no shortage of material from which to learn."
--President Jimmy Carter

"Bob Dylan has been an inspiration to me throughout my career and I've been deeply affected by his spiritual journey. Rock and roll is at its best when it asks the important questions, as Bob has always done in his work, and there is no more important question than the question of God. Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life provides the final answer to those who doubt or minimize Bob's spiritual commitment. His faith remains solid. He is a prophet of our generation and we ignore his warnings about a slow train coming at our own peril."
--Gary Cherone, lead singer, Extreme; Van Halen (1996-1999)

"Bob has always been rock and roll's Poet Laureate. A lyricist confesses a lot--we're sort of our own psychotherapists--and 'Gotta Serve Somebody' is as close to a modern day hymn as anything I can think of. Bob's spirit is captured effectively in Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life. If you can't trust Bob Dylan, who can you trust?"
--Alice Cooper, American treasure (another version)

"Bob Dylan will not be labeled. For five decades now, he has avoided the trappings of every group that has wanted to claim him as their own. Call Dylan whatever you want, but the name won't stick. What does stick is his music, in part because his songs contain a deep, abiding spirituality that moves listeners like me more than the songs of any other artist." [Excerpt from the book's Foreword]
--Scott Derrickson, Hollywood director, Doctor Strange; Deliver Us from Evil; The
Exorcism of Emily Rose

"I always have a hard time writing anything down about Bob Dylan. Feels like he might want it that way. I saw Bob Dylan on my thirtieth birthday. Flew home for it. Felt like he ushered me into adulthood properly. I grew up with his songs--and somehow his songs have grown up with me as well. His words come in and out of my life like apparitions, appearing in mercurial forms ranging from the hipster iconoclast to the suburban prophet. Dylan's songs have guided me from young aimless angst to a hope that is being born. Whatever he was singing about, I always felt like Dylan made me a believer."
--Jon Foreman, lead singer, Switchfoot

"Scott Marshall comes as close as anyone ever will to documenting the complete and complex record of Bob Dylan's continuing spiritual journey."
--Jeffrey Gaskill, producer, Grammy-nominated Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan; Grammy-nominated producer, God Don't Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson

" 'Wow,' 'Oh my,' and 'Thank You' are the words that kept coming to mind as I read Scott Marshall's masterly Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life. 'Wow' for the extent of research, which is top-notch; 'Oh my' for the scores of facts and anecdotes I'd never run across before (and I've been reading Dylan bios for decades!); and 'Thank You' for what is probably the best-argued book on the enduring biblical pulse at the heart of Dylan's music. As the author himself says, 'Why bet against Dylan having a place at that heavenly welcome table?' 'Wow,' 'Oh my,' and 'Thank You,' Scott Marshall!"
--Robert Hudson, longtime editor at Zondervan/HarperCollins; author of The Christian Writer's Manual of Style and Kiss the Earth When You Pray

"Bob Dylan is a Jew AND a Christian and a steadfast contrarian. Scott Marshall provides a balanced, comprehensive account of the Nobel Prize winner's spiritual life--a mysterious journey of biblical proportions."
--Don Lattin, longtime religion writer at the San Francisco Chronicle; author of Changing Our Minds: Psychedelic Sacraments and the New Psychotherapy

"The concept of examining Bob Dylan and spirituality is an intriguing one. As a devoted student of Dylan, I can't wait wait to see where this story leads. All things considered, it seems central to a real understanding of the maestro."
--Michael Levine, Hollywood publicist; author of Guerrilla PR

"Scott Marshall has performed the important task of bringing light to the mystery of how the man who warned us not to follow leaders lectured us 15 years later that we had to serve somebody, since he talked to just about everybody who had insight into Dylan's thinking at the time of his famous Slow Train Coming run at San Francisco's Warfield Theatre. Painstaking footnotes manifest the level of dedication to research."
--Jack McDonough, former Billboard correspondent; author of San Francisco Rock: The Illustrated History, 1965-1985

"Scott Marshall skillfully weaves his tale with relevant quotes as Dylan travels from seeing the Bible as 'just literature' to believing 'in the Bible, literally'."
--Andrew Muir, author of One More Night: Bob Dylan's Never Ending Tour and Shakespeare in Cambridge: A Celebration of the Shakespeare Festival

"With Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life, Scott Marshall takes Dylan's idiosyncratic faith walk seriously enough to bear with the obfuscation, jokes, and sleight-of-hand that have always been a non-negotiable part of the journey. By doing so, Marshall patiently (and respectfully) connects the dots left behind by the artist himself over a half century recording career. The result is the richest, most complete understanding of Dylan the Radical Monotheist to date."
--Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"A number of Bob Dylan's songs--'Blowin' in the Wind,' 'I Shall Be Released,' 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door,' among others--have always struck me as modern hymns. Discerning a consistent theme of monotheism in Dylan's vast and divergent canon of work reflects the extraordinary passion that his spiritual biographer, Scott Marshall, brings to his subject. For nearly two decades, Marshall has been studying and writing about Dylan's religious views and spiritual odyssey; the result is this book, the bible on Dylan's religiosity and a seminal contribution to the literature on this towering cultural--and yes, spiritual--figure of our time."
--James Rosen, Fox News chief Washington correspondent and editor of the New York Times bestseller A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century (by William F. Buckley, Jr.)

"A pointillist rendering of a man's spiritual evolution...cross-referencing over five decades of interviews and friendships, distilled from hundreds of artistic, religious, and personal sources, Scott Marshall's book succeeds mightily in documenting Bobby Dylan Zimmerman's continuing (and often misunderstood) personal reconciliation of two faiths."
--Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary



"Talkin' Religion" appears in Isis: A Bob Dylan Anthology (London: Helter Skelter Publishing, 2001)
A small contribution to Derek Barker's first book. In 1985, Barker founded the Dylan fanzine Isis, which still publishes today from England.

Restless Pilgrim: The Spiritual Journey of Bob Dylan; co-authored with Marcia Ford (Lake Mary, Fl: Relevant Books, 2002)
As a young Jewish musician, Bob Dylan faithfully explored the roots of modern American music--the spirituals and gospel songs. It is not surprising then, Dylan's words, both in his songs and in his interviews, have often touched upon biblical themes. From his apocalyptic expressions onstage and in the studio to his unapologetic biblical views that leak out during interviews, the public record of Dylan's spiritual journey makes for a fascinating story.
A curious icon of popular culture, yet distinct in his Judeo-Christian expressions, Bob Dylan doesn't fit neatly into the typical rock 'n' roll mold. Who else would have the chutzpah to publicly contribute to Orthodox Jewish communities while publicly singing songs about Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection, and eventual return? Restless Pilgrim: The Spiritual Journey of Bob Dylan wrestles with the seemingly contradictory facts of Dylan's preoccupation with Jesus and his own Jewish heritage, by looking through the lens of this reluctant legend's four-decade career.

Spiritual Journeys: How Faith Has Influenced Twelve Music Icons (Lake Mary, Fl: Relevant Books, 2003)
Contributed two chapters--"Bob Dylan: Gotta Serve Somebody" and "T-Bone Burnett: Spark in the Dark"--to this book, which features a slightly diverse list of artists: Bono; Johnny Cash; Destiny's Child; P. Diddy; Al Green; Lauryn Hill; Wyclef Jean; Lenny Kravitz; Moby; and Scott Stapp. The spirit of the book's now defunct publisher, Relevant Books, is still alive and well through Relevant magazine, which has been publishing since 2003.

Interviews and articles published (1999-2017):
"The Bridge Interview: Bruce Hamilton," The Bridge #57 (Spring 2017), pp. 6-13.

"Stadiums of the Damned? Maybe Not," The Bridge #57 (Spring 2017), pp. 108-112.

"A Conversation with...Jerry Scheff," The Bridge #55 (Summer 2016), pp. 99-101.

"50 Years Ago Today: A 24-year-old Bob Dylan Electrifies Barton Hall," The Cornell Daily Sun, Nov. 6, 2015, p. 10.

"Dylan, Over and Over: Remembering the Folk Punk Once Again," Ithaca Times, Nov. 4, 2015, p. 18.

"The Bridge Interview: Dan Fiala," The Bridge #52 (Summer 2015), pp. 6-20.

"The Bridge Interview: Paul Wasserman," The Bridge #49 (Summer 2014), pp. 6-21.

"The Bridge Interview: Pastor Larry Myers," The Bridge #47 (Winter 2013), pp. 6-15.

"A Fleeting Conversation with 'Precious Angel' Mary Alice Artes," The Bridge #47 (Winter 2013), pp. 102-103.

"Judith & Catherine Kanner Interviews," Isis #163 (July-Aug. 2012), pp. 52-55.

"Scott Marshall Interviews Barry Beckett Interview," The Bridge #37 (Summer 2010), pp. 58-73.

"Jerry Wexler Interview with Scott Marshall, conducted 2000," Montague Street Journal #2 (Summer 2010), pp. 83-87.

"The Real Bob Dylan: An Honest Look at the Life and Faith of Folk's Greatest Legend," Relevant (Dec. 2007), pp. 56-61.

"Encyclopedic Skies / Slippery Gray: A Look into Michael Gray's The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia," Isis #128 (Sept.-Oct. 2006), pp. 34-37.

"They're Planting Stories in the Press: Ripples & Reverberations from a 1991 Bob Dylan 'Interview'," Judas! #11 (Oct. 2004), pp. 25-31.

"Bob Dylan's Unshakeable Monotheism--Parts I-IV (1960s-1990s)," jewsweek.com, Oct. 2003- Dec. 2004. [Website now defunct.]

"An Exclusive On the Tracks Interview: T-Bone Burnett," On the Tracks #24 (Fall 2003), pp. 30-35.

"An Exclusive On the Tracks Interview: Scott Huffstetler," On the Tracks #23 (Summer/Fall 2002), pp. 44-47.

"Coming from the Heart: Some Song Offerings of Bob Dylan," On the Tracks #22 (Winter 2001/2002), pp. 20-22.

"An Exclusive On the Tracks Interview: Howard Sounes," On the Tracks #21 (Summer 2001), pp. 44-47.

"A Few Words with Shirley Caesar," On the Tracks #20 (Winter 2000/Spring 2001), p. 29.

"An Exclusive On the Tracks Interview (with Laurie McCuistion): Bucky Baxter," On the Tracks #20 (Winter 2000/Spring 2001), pp. 40-46.

"Interview with Scott Ross," Isis #92 (Aug.-Sept. 2000), pp. 46-47.

"The Bridge Interview: Charlie Daniels, Exclusive Interview by Scott Marshall," The Bridge #7 (Summer 2000), pp. 66-71.

"An Exclusive On the Tracks Interview: Regina (McCrary) Havis Brown," On the Tracks #18 (Spring 2000), pp. 14-19.

"Bob Dylan Talkin' Religion," Isis #90 (Apr.-May 2000), pp. 52-54.

"The Hour is Getting Late...", The Bridge #6 (Spring 2000), pp. 58-65.

"The On the Tracks Interview: Spooner Oldham," On the Tracks #17 (Fall 1999), pp. 16-21.