‘Ain’t gonna go to Hell for anybody’

Dylan’s Christian years


  • John Hughes University of Gloucestershire




biography, Bob Dylan, Christian period, Saved, Shot of Love, Slow Train Coming, conversion


This piece evaluates Dylan’s Christian period, between 1979 and 1981. It considers the biographical context of the Christian material, and its relations to Dylan’s other work. While describing the circumstances of Dylan’s conversion, and the studio recordings and their critical reception, the piece seeks above all to give special prominence to the consistent intensity and shifting nuances of the live performances of the period. This focus allows us to see how this often denigrated or dismissed phase of Dylan’s career in fact can be said to rival any other in the ways it draws on Dylan’s creative powers of self-renewal.

Author Biography

John Hughes, University of Gloucestershire

John Hughes is Professor of Nineteenth Century Literature in the Department of English at the University of Gloucestershire. His research and teaching interests are in literary theory, Hardy, Wordsworth, the relationship between philosophical and literary writings, and the nineteenth century. His most recent work, ‘Invisible Now’: Bob Dylan in the 1960s, was published by Ashgate in 2013.


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How to Cite

Hughes, J. (2014). ‘Ain’t gonna go to Hell for anybody’: Dylan’s Christian years. Popular Music History, 8(2), 205–221. https://doi.org/10.1558/pomh.v8i2.205