Bob Dylan: Chronicles Volume One

While you read through a book like this there is a moment when you know, intuitively, that an artist is speaking from the page. Bob Dylan tells the story of his life in a herky jerky sort of way, criss-crossing the landscape of his life through a mix of associations and time lines. From Minnesota to New York, from New Orleans to touring on the road he tells of the impact of fame, the problems of perception and the bureaucracy of the music industry. I was especially interested in the way he wrote about other artists, how they impacted him through their recordings. The scarcity of some folk records at the time was very prominent and when he sat down and listened to something new it set off a chain reaction of feelings for him. The most prominent of these artists was Woody Guthrie. Without Guthrie there would be no Bob Dylan, he makes it seem that is the truth of his impact. Robert Johnson later did it again, but not like the scope of Woody Guthrie’s music and autobiography. Dylan, like many famous people, seems to be very shy and internal. He doesn’t like other people putting words in his mouth, especially when they say he is the voice for something. Ultimately he is a family man who loves his kids and wife. He almost makes it seem as if many of the things in his life were accidental. They just happened, then other people interpreted what he did completely without merit or asking the singer himself. He is an interesting person who feels there is a complex and difficult world swirling around us at all times, but I am not trying to read too far into what he says. After all, he might not agree with my interpretation. Still his writing style and detailed memory make this volume one a good read. I give it a marking of GOOD.


This was posted a couple of years ago, but the honoring of Dylan with a Nobel prize a couple of weeks ago made me think about this review. I still can’t get into his music, but understand his lyrical talent.


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