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Chronicles: Volume One (2004)

de Bob DYLAN

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4,206672,532 (3.89)62
"I'd come from a long ways off and had started a long ways down. But now destiny was about to manifest itself. I felt like it was looking right at me and nobody else." So writes Bob Dylan in Chronicles: Volume One, his remarkable book exploring critical junctures in his life and career. Through Dylan's eyes and open mind, we see Greenwich Village, circa 1961, when he first arrives in Manhattan. Dylan's New York is a magical city of possibilities -- smoky, nightlong parties; literary awakenings; transient loves and unbreakable friendships. Elegiac observations are punctuated by jabs of memories, penetrating and tough. With the book's side trips to New Orleans, Woodstock, Minnesota and points west, Chronicles: Volume One is an intimate and intensely personal recollection of extraordinary times. By turns revealing, poetical, passionate and witty, Chronicles: Volume One is a mesmerizing window on Bob Dylan's thoughts and influences. Dylan's voice is distinctively American: generous of spirit, engaged, fanciful and rhythmic. Utilizing his unparalleled gifts of storytelling and the exquisite expressiveness that are the hallmarks of his music, Bob Dylan turns Chronicles: Volume One into a poignant reflection on life, and the people and places that helped shape the man and the art.… (més)
  1. 10
    Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir de Anatole Broyard (bertilak)
  2. 10
    Bob Dylan: The Illustrated Record de Alan Rinzler (gust)
  3. 10
    A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties de Suze Rotolo (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Dylan's girlfriend's memoirs of life in the Village in the early 1960s
  4. 00
    Who I Am de Pete Townshend (br77rino)
    br77rino: Both of these autobiographies are surprisingly honest, and great reads. Dylan's especially breaks away from a lot of the conventional (i.e., media-concocted) descriptions of these guys.
  5. 00
    Het verhaal van De Nieuwe Snaar de Kris De Smet (gust)
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Well, I waited nearly twenty years to read Bob Dylan's so-called memoir, CHRONICLES: VOLUME ONE. (Was there ever a Volume Two?). I picked it up used at a Good Will store. Turns out I didn't miss anything, because he doesn't really tell you all that much that's very personal. Instead he gives you endless pages of (sometimes ungrammatical) purple prose filled with famous names he's met along the way. Indeed, it seems he has met nearly everyone who is anyone. And I have a pet peeve about the proper use of "lie" vs. "lay," and he consistently gets it wrong every time. I probably shouldn't be surprised, since one of his best songs, back around 1969 was "Lay Lady Lay" (and where are the commas?) from the NASHVILLE SKYLINE album. Turns out I don't mind poor grammar in a song lyric, but in a book? Like nails on a chalkboard.

Here's the thing. I've been a Dylan fan for nearly sixty years, ever since my brother brought home his first LP. I have loved most of his many albums. Played BLONDE ON BLONDE nearly to death. So I was vastly disappointed by his recent coffee table book, THE PHILOSOPHY OF MODERN SONG, which seemed to me little more than a money-grubbing ripoff. CHRONICLES was, I believe, a more serious attempt at autobiography, but it's still pretty thin, and often exasperating. Here's a sample -

"There was a missing person inside of myself and I needed to find him. Now and again I did try a few times, tried hard to force it. In nature there's a remedy for everything and that's where I'd usually go hunting for it. I'd find myself on a houseboat, a floating mobile home, hoping to hear a voice - crawling at slow speed - nosed up on a protective beach at night in the wilderness - moose, deer, bear around - the elusive timber wo!f not so far off, calm summer evenings listening to the call of the loon ... "

I mean, huh? I'm sorry, Bob, but this is just awful stuff that gets quickly tiresome and left me skimming whole pages looking for something of real substance. Oddly, it wasn't until the final section, "River of Ice," that Dylan finally opened up just a little about his boyhood and beginnings as an unknown singer in New York City, and even gives a brief nod to his first girlfriend there, Suze Rotolo, who appeared with him on the cover of his FREEWHEELIN' album (and wrote her own memoir covering those years, which was, by the way, a much better book than this one).

Dylan admits that he struggled in school, was not a very good student. I'm not surprised. Again, while I am a longtime admirer and fan of Bob Dylan as a singer-songwriter, as an 'author' he just does not shine. The Nobel Prize people should be embarrassed. Then again, maybe it's just me. After all, CHRONICLES was a monster bestseller and called "one of the best books of 2004" by numerous sources. Alas, for me, it was "just okay." (Sigh.)

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Jan 29, 2023 |
One of the most poetic autobiographies I've read. There's about a hundred pages dedicated to his post-70s career, that's seemed pretty slow for me. The last hundred pages more than make up for it. Electric. ( )
  elfarsif | Oct 11, 2022 |
Vol. 2 where?

Very nice for all Dylan fans. ( )
  MaunoV | Sep 22, 2022 |
A lot of folks complained that this wasn't a straight bio/memoir from Dylan, but has Bob ever 'aimed to please'? No, he does his thing. In this case, he vents a bit about being turned into a counterculture icon, when all he wanted to do was write and sing songs. His dedication to being with his family and raising his son at what might've been the height of his career is admirable.

Most enjoyable was a passage about New Orleans that is as brilliant as any of his lyrical writing. The book-on-CD is read by Sean Penn, and to hear him read this section, in particular, is pretty exhilarating.

I still don't have any insight into how Bob writes his songs, or what he thinks of most of his musical peers, but I got to see a side of him never exposed onstage or in film. For that, this book is worth picking up, at least if Dylan fascinates you as he does me. ( )
  TommyHousworth | Feb 5, 2022 |
Holy moly. Turns out Dylan is a way better lyricist than author. So much meandering and so little actual information! ( )
  LibroLindsay | Jun 18, 2021 |
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» Afegeix-hi altres autors (12 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
DYLAN, Bobautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Bindervoet, ErikTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Carrera, AlessandroTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Gellerfelt, MatsTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Henkes, Robbert-JanTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Penn, SeanNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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Lou Levy, top man of Leeds Music Publishing company, took me up in a taxi to the Pythian Temple on West 70th Street to show me the pocket sized recording studio where Bill Haley and His Comets had recorded "Rock Around the Clock"—then down to Jack Dempsey's restaurant on 58th and Broadway, where we sat down in a red leather upholstered booth facing the front window.
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He asked me about my family. I told him about my grandma on my mom's side who lived with us. She was filled with nobility and goodness, told me once that happiness isn't on the road to anything. That happiness is the road. Had also instructed me to be kind because everyone you'll ever meet is fighting a hard battle.
As far as I knew, I didn't belong to anybody then or now. I had a wife and children whom I loved more than anything else in the world. I was trying to provide for them, keep out of trouble, but the big bugs in the press kept promoting me as the mouthpiece, spokesman, or even conscience of a generation. That was funny. All I'd ever done was sing songs that were dead straight and expressed powerful new realities. I had very little in common with and knew even less about a generation that I was supposed to be the voice of.
     …Once in the midsummer madness I was riding in a car with Robbie Robertson, the guitar player in what was later to be called The Band. I felt like I might as well have been living in another part of the solar system.
     He says to me, "Where do you think you're gonna take it?"
     I said, "Take what?"
     "You know, the whole music scene."
     The whole music scene! The car window was rolled down about an inch. I rolled it down the rest of the way, felt a gust of wind blow into my face and waited for what he said to die away—it was like dealing with a conspiracy. No place was far enough away. I don't know what everybody else was fantasizing about, but what I was fantasizing about was a nine-to-five existence, a house on a tree-lined block with a white picket fence, pink roses in the backyard.
     "You a prayin' man, huh? What do you pray for? You pray for the world?"
     (Dylan) I never thought about praying for the world. I said, "I pray that I can be a kinder person."
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"I'd come from a long ways off and had started a long ways down. But now destiny was about to manifest itself. I felt like it was looking right at me and nobody else." So writes Bob Dylan in Chronicles: Volume One, his remarkable book exploring critical junctures in his life and career. Through Dylan's eyes and open mind, we see Greenwich Village, circa 1961, when he first arrives in Manhattan. Dylan's New York is a magical city of possibilities -- smoky, nightlong parties; literary awakenings; transient loves and unbreakable friendships. Elegiac observations are punctuated by jabs of memories, penetrating and tough. With the book's side trips to New Orleans, Woodstock, Minnesota and points west, Chronicles: Volume One is an intimate and intensely personal recollection of extraordinary times. By turns revealing, poetical, passionate and witty, Chronicles: Volume One is a mesmerizing window on Bob Dylan's thoughts and influences. Dylan's voice is distinctively American: generous of spirit, engaged, fanciful and rhythmic. Utilizing his unparalleled gifts of storytelling and the exquisite expressiveness that are the hallmarks of his music, Bob Dylan turns Chronicles: Volume One into a poignant reflection on life, and the people and places that helped shape the man and the art.

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