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Chronicles: Volume One (2004)

by Bob Dylan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,751602,311 (3.9)54
"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.… (more)
Recently added byDanaRail, jocelynelise_, Jim.Shine, fransvuister, mcalzone19, txorig, biblio99, Rivaton, luzdelsol, private library
Legacy LibrariesJuice Leskinen
  1. 10
    Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir by Anatole Broyard (bertilak)
  2. 10
    Bob Dylan: The Illustrated Record by Alan Rinzler (gust)
  3. 10
    A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties by Suze Rotolo (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Dylan's girlfriend's memoirs of life in the Village in the early 1960s
  4. 00
    Who I Am by 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 by Kris De Smet (gust)

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» See also 54 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
Bob Dylan is perhaps the best popular American songwriter/poet in the past century. Dylan, as he admits in this memoir/autobiography, was not the best student in high school, but he taught himself how to write by imitating the lyrical and musical work of the best folk artists of the day.

Although Dylan is known for his social conscience, in this work, he eschews that he ever aspired to dabble in contemporary politics. He claims - over and over - that he only wanted to be a true folk artist. Although he was popularly known for running away from the public spotlight, he claims that the press forced him to live this life. In so doing, he claims his persona is false - or at the very least, misguided.

Dylan would not be the first artist to claim that popularity hurt his/her life. I'm sure there is a solid nugget of truth in that claim. Nonetheless, Dylan appears to have nurtured this persona in his public portrayal of himself in pursuit of his artistic vision.

Either way, Dylan's passion for songwriting comes through in this work. Most of this book dwells upon how Dylan's unique and brilliant style came about through the deep study of others' poetry and lyrics. Songwriters and poets will find it well worth the time to read, muse, and develop their own styles from Dylan's brilliance. ( )
  scottjpearson | Jan 25, 2020 |
Rubbish, really: pontifical mutterings amounting to almost nothing. A joke perpetrated on fans by a genius who also happens to be a pompous ass. ( )
  threegirldad | Jan 5, 2020 |
For someone whose favorite Dylan years are '65 and '66, this book is frustrating, but highly engaging. Even though the most musical insight focuses on the writing and recording of "Oh Mercy," an album released in 1989 that seems fairly inconsequential in the big picture, Chronicles is enjoyable throughout. I'm sure that a casual Dylan fan or someone unfamiliar with his mythology or work would find this book tedious, but I found it to be charming and endearing. There is plenty of insight into his thoughts on being labeled the voice of a generation, or being labeled anything, for that matter. For me, a book focusing on the years between "Freewheelin'" and the motorcycle accident would be ideal and enthralling, but with Dylan, I'll take what I can get. According to Wikipedia, there are two more volumes planned for Dylan's Chrinicles, and that in April of 2008, Dylan was planning on beginning the second. Come on Bob. Make it happen. ( )
1 vote CLPowers | Dec 6, 2019 |
Really interesting with lots of facets of Dylan's life. He was quite the family man and wasn't all that happy in Woodstock. Who knew he owned a sailboat and sailed the Caribbean with his family. ( )
  velopunk | Dec 4, 2019 |
This is part memoir and part description of how he became the poet and singer we know him to be now. He describes how he came up with some of his songs, where and with whom he recorded them. He describes his travels around America and here he especially demonstrates his writing talent in the simple descriptions of trees in fall colours or vistas seen from an automobile or train.

He outlines who were the important influences on his music with Woody Guthrie being the dominant force. ( )
  lamour | Dec 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bob Dylanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bindervoet, ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carrera, AlessandroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gellerfelt, MatsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henkes, Robbert-JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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.
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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