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Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan

Chronicles: Volume One (2004)

by Bob Dylan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,575552,254 (3.9)53
  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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Each phrase comes at you from a ten-foot drop, scuttles across the road and then another one comes like a punch on the chin.

So goes Dylan on the marvel of Pirate Jenny, the haunting number by Brecht/Weill in their Three Penny Opera. Apparently seeing this performed life indelibly changed Dylan's approach to songwriting. I bought myself G.W. Pabst's film version of TPO for this recent Christmas and I was absolutely riveted by Lotte Lenya's performance of the song, she's so cold , so decisive, much like Thomas Mann's Naphta. I was not a stranger to the song, having been moved for years by Nina Simone's rendition. My first encounter, however, happened years before when I was vacationing in Rome. Foot-sore, yet exhilarated, we had been walking all day and came across publicity posters for an Italian performer scheduled to play that evening the songs of Brecht/Weill in both German and Italian. For the life of me, I can't remember the name of the young woman -- but she owned the songs and all of us in attendance. One of the documentaries on the Three Penny Opera relates Brecht's penchant for appropriation, "he stole, but with genius." I've heard many similar references to Picasso and it is simply coincidence that Dylan next speaks of Guernica and Pablo P after his rumination on Pirate Jenny. How better could one loop the wonky arc of Chronicles than to situate the book (and its legion of complains of plagiarism) alongside such earlier masters of Love and Theft. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Chronicles Book One
by Bob Dylan
Simon and Schuster
3.8 / 5.0

I have been a fan of Bob Dylan's lyrics and songs for decades. He has been the voice and inspiration for so many, and is greatly respected by many, very diverse people. I enjoyed the easy free flow of this memoir, the influence other musicians and people had on him and his respect for the roots and style of early folk musicians. It was surprising at times.

From his own roots in Minnesota, playing the Purple Onion, to his move to New York in 1961. How he chose his "acting" name; why he chose family over career are pivotal moments in his life and discussed with surprising candor in this book. His move to Woodstock and the energy it took for him to have any privacy was amazing. The loss he felt when he injured his hand, and was in a cast up to his elbow and unable to play. The crossroads of his career, when Lonnie Johnson taught him a system of guitar playing that Dylan believes helped revitalize his career. He sailed the entire Caribbean with his family in a 63 ft sailboat. It's all here. Plus more.

What strikes me most is how close he stayed to his roots in music and life, and it gives this book much depth. Dylan says he was put in the position of being a voice of his era, all he every really wanted was the privacy to raise his kids with his wife.

Recommended. ( )
  over.the.edge | Dec 24, 2018 |
So far pretty interesting but only if you are Dylan fan. It is interesting how he claims not to be voice of the people or protest singer... Also fascinating how he can just drop names of people he met or hung out with. Joan Biaz, Charlie Daniels, Johnny Cash (and clan) and many many others.... ( )
  ksmedberg | Aug 15, 2018 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Oct 2012):
- "A folk song has over a thousand faces and you must meet all of them if you want to play this stuff."
- I came to this book by the route of curiosity, not fandom. His rise from New York folk circles to wide popularity, as well as his reemergence as abstruse icon in the 1970s, happened before I was musically aware. My passing knowledge of Dylan was as an eccentric, unpredictable performer whose heyday had flown. Then I picked up a couple of used cds -... "Blood on the Tracks", and decided it was time I opened the book.
- Structurally, Chronicles Vol. I seems the product of a jazz artist - out of sequence, amorphous, a bit coy. Okay, more than a bit. Yet...this is what you'd expect of Dylan. For me, as a sponge to the people and places revealed here, the disparate anecdotes were entertaining, if not always fully appreciable. The style of writing here is unrefined.., which gives the memoir a personal feel...
-He takes us back and forth, from his lonely apprenticeship in Manhattan in the early 60s, to the late 80s - tired of touring, broken in spirit, to the frustrations and inspirations of recording in New Orleans in the 70s. Half the time I didn't know where he was, but I didn't often care.
-For a committed fan, this might be a hazy disappointment... Only vague reference to his visits to a dying Woody Guthrie, nothing about his relationship with Joan Baez, let alone the mysterious bike accident near New Palz, NY that may have redefined him. As a latecomer to The Enigma that is Dylan, I look forward to more. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Jun 25, 2018 |
You can tell by reading this book that Dylan is a great writer. With imagination and candor he takes us on a journey with him through his life. ( )
  ForSusan | Mar 16, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bob Dylanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bindervoet, ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carrera, AlessandroTranslatorsecondary 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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743244583, Paperback)

One would not anticipate a conventional memoir from Bob Dylan--indeed, one would not have foreseen an autobiography at all from the pen of the notoriously private legend. What Chronicles: Volume 1 delivers is an odd but ultimately illuminating memoir that is as impulsive, eccentric, and inspired as Dylan's greatest music.

Eschewing chronology and skipping over most of the "highlights" that his many biographers have assigned him, Dylan drifts and rambles through his tale, amplifying a series of major and minor epiphanies. If you're interested in a behind-the-scenes look at his encounters with the Beatles, look elsewhere. Dylan describes the sensation of hearing the group's "Do You Want to Know a Secret" on the radio, but devotes far more ink to a Louisiana shopkeeper named Sun Pie, who tells him, "I think all the good in the world might already been done" and sells him a World's Greatest Grandpa bumper sticker. Dylan certainly sticks to his own agenda--a newspaper article about journeymen heavyweights Jerry Quarry and Jimmy Ellis and soul singer Joe Tex's appearance on The Tonight Show inspire heartfelt musings, and yet the 1963 assassination of John Kennedy prompts nary a word from the era's greatest protest singer.

For all the small revelations (it turns out he's been a big fan of Barry Goldwater, Mickey Rourke, and Ice-T), there are eye-opening disclosures, including his confession that a large portion of his recorded output was designed to alienate his audience and free him from the burden of being a "the voice of a generation."

Off the beaten path as it is, Chronicles is nevertheless an astonishing achievement. As revelatory in its own way as Blonde on Blonde or Highway 61 Revisited, it provides ephemeral insights into the mind one of the most significant artistic voices of the 20th century while creating a completely new set of mysteries. --Steven Stolder

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:46 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Bob Dylan's Chronicles: Volume One explores the critical junctions in his life and career.

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