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Chronicles: 1 Paperback – 31 Oct 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (31 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743244583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743244589
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,977,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

As the first volume of Chronicles, Bob Dylan’s long-anticipated autobiography, finally appears, we are given a forcible reminder how it has never been easy to be a Dylan admirer. How could the fiercely anti-establishment composer of With God on Our Side embrace (in turn) orthodox Judaism, then fundamentalist Christianity – two religions absolutely antithetical to his celebration of the unfettered human spirit ? How could the demigod of folk (and disciple of Woody Guthrie) make his controversial move into electric rock? How could this man of the streets become the arch capitalist? If no answers to these questions are to be found within the pages of Chronicles, there is nevertheless a whole host of pleasures to be encountered: literary felicities, brilliantly etched pen portraits of musical personalities he has encountered, the biting wit one might expect – not to mention a thousand surprises (how could a man hardly noted for the beauty of his vocal tones be such an admirer of composers whose work he could never tackle, such as Harold Arlen, composer of Over the Rainbow?.

Those who have loved Dylan’s lyrics (and that’s a good chunk of the academic world these days) will find the same coruscating prose here: idea and image fused into brilliant (if often opaque) word pictures, as Dylan takes us back to his early days on the New York folk scene, before he became the face of rebellion in music. There are insights into his reluctance to conform to the image his fans have of him (hence his highly unlikely conversion to religious dogmas?), and this inaugural volume of his autobiography takes the reader up to the moment of his first real celebrity. It’s a fascinating and infuriating read, of a piece with Dylan the Enigma. And perhaps answers to those unanswered questions will appear in succeeding volumes. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'There is something on every page, in every paragraph, that demands attention... In rock and roll terms, this book is like discovering the lost diaries of Shakespeare. It may be the most extraordinarily intimate autobiography by a 20th-century legend' THE DAILY TELEGRAPH --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By chamomile on 9 Oct. 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is Dylan in top form. If you like his songs then you'll like this book. Elliptical, poetic, with a seemingly simple surface but touching the same complex depths his best songs do. I'm not sure how someone who didn't 'get' Dylan in the first place would respond to the book, but even so, as a narative it still holds up.
The zig zag chronological order is occasionally puzzling, but builds to create a satisfying whole,. To me, each chapter felt like a track in an Dylan album - each varying in intent and style, but with an overall consistent authorial voice binding them together.
Indeed, some chapters I liked more than others, just like with his albums, and there were occasional really clunky or over-ripe bits that as a long time Dylan fan I immediately forgave.
The early 60's Grenwich Village descriptions, however, which act as a kind of recurring theme throughout the book, particularly those of the people he openly acknowledges influenced him, show the author and his world in a clear light, with a kind of disarming honesty reminiscent of JD Salinger's Holden Caulfield - a reference I imagine Dylan wouldn't be entirely insulted by.
Through it all, Dylan's sense of personal ambition is presented matter-of-factly but doesn't jar. His sense of his own separateness and a profound respect for previous culture and other artists work, seems in character for one who was to develop into such a unique artist themselves.
In fact it's as an 'artist' that the picture of Dylan emerged to me with greatest clarity, with plenty of insights into the nuts and bolts of artistic creation - the gritty business of making stuff.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Flemming andersen on 11 Oct. 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Cronicles" has recieved rather mixed reviews in Denmark. It seems like most reviewers have been disappointed because Dylan does not reveil any secrets, private or lyricwise. So they act like dedicated and thus disappointed fans rather than reviewers. But "Cronicles" is a perfect introduction to the way Dylan looks at the world, pretty much from his coming into NY in 1960. The scoop of the book is his description of the NY folk scene with all it's weird existances, all the people he met there. It corresponds perfectly with Greils book "The invisible republic": For Dylan there are poeple, myths and time. The present does not really interest him unless it cooresponds with the past. In essense nothing has changed since way before BC and this is what interests him and has done all along. Thus he was able to write all these classic, mystical songs. Dyland tries really hard to tell what this implies and how it is possible to transform this view into songs of importance. And besides: His prose is beautiful, you can hear him talk. And like in his songs, he takes all kinds of detours. This book brings Dylan back home where he belongs: to the world of people first and in the service of them - a transcendentalist old bard.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Dylan35 on 17 Oct. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Like Steinbeck and Kerouac before him, you can hear America in his words. Those looking for insider gossip, showbiz revelations or a straghtforward narrative need to look elsewhere. The book starts with his arrival in New York City in 1961, beautifully evocative and kind hearted. Lovingly bringing to life those people around him, some more famous names than others, it has a unique sense of time and place. Amazing details show a true poetic licence in full flow. He describes the furniture in a friend's apartment in exhaustive detail; the place comes alive. He then writes that the apartment had "about 5 or 6 rooms". New York city, like the past, is another country. We then jump cut (nicely missing out his most famous period) to the late 60s and early 70s, living in seclusion in Woodstock, trying to raise a family while his generation come calling for their lost leader. His polite but solid rejection of the misguided, unworkable '60s ideals is nothing new - he said as much at the time. Maybe now people will finally get it. He belongs almost to a different time, a stranger world, that "old weird America". His fascination with Robert Johnson speaks volumes. His later work is beginning to capture this weirdness. The chapters concerning the writng and recording of "Oh Mercy" are revealing. They show that when he has the right producers, musicians, and motivations, he can make something great. The book is littered with fascinating asides - pen portraits of working musicians rather than pampered superstars, detours into the civil war, gods, generals and literature. There's a playfulness at work. Sly jokes appear here and there. He reveals that he wrote an album based on the short stories of Chekov, but doesn't tell you which one. Shaggy dog stories of old men on Southern porches, and trudging through swamps to get to Woody Guthrie's house. Everyone he writes about comes alive, positively. It's a great book from a great American voice. I expected nothing less
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mykool on 3 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
You have to remember that this did not start as an autobiography - it started as a series of notes to some re-releases of his albums. Dylan happened to tap into a seam of memories and kept going. That explains the strange structure of this book. It starts at the beginning: Dylan arrives in New York and enters the coffeshop scene of Greenwich Village and all its artists, poseurs and freaks. It then jumps to 1969 and the semi-retired Dylan visiting the playwright Archibald McLeish. Then we're in the late 80's, Dylan struggles with a lack of inspiration, contemplates quitting, has a bad accident, learns how to sing like a jazz singer and invents a new way to play the guitar based on a technique taught to him by old blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson. All this without touching upon Newport 65, or the Christian conversion of the late 70s. The pen portraits are fascinating, as is his account of visiting Woody Guthrie in an asylum. He creates a vivid sense of place of New York in the early 60s and New Orleans in the 80s - both vanished worlds now. But best of all, he outlines how he came to write those early songs and the books he read that influenced him - this seems genuine and generous to me, like Dylan is handing on the flame to whoever can understand. Just remember it's structured around the creation of his albums - it is not a chronological history. If you love his music you will find this rewarding. If you don't know the music, I think you'll find it confusing.
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