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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dylan : Not Blown Yet!
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...
Published on 9 Oct. 2004 by chamomile

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars chronically boring
I was hoping to find this book bubbling with the spirit and wit of the Dylan songs of my youth. Instead, I found it dull, repetitive, negative in tone, and sprinkled with pointless litanies of musicians. I feel very sorry to have to say this about the memories of a man whose songs I liked so much.
Published 11 months ago by tony haslegrave


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dylan : Not Blown Yet!, 9 Oct. 2004
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This review is from: Chronicles: Volume One (Hardcover)
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. (The fact that he built his own furniture in his first apartment and can remember the brackets and timber to this day seems entirely appropriate for an artist that I have always considered a supreme technician.)
It's along time since I read a book right through in one sitting and I am looking forward to the other (supposedly two) editions.
Yes, he's poet and, thank God, he didn't blow it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A man out of time, 11 Oct. 2004
This review is from: Chronicles: Volume One (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A great American voice, 17 Oct. 2004
This review is from: Chronicles: Volume One (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Eccentric and human, 3 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Chronicles: Volume One (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book, full of character, free of pretension, 17 Oct. 2014
By 
Tristan Martin (Hertfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Chronicles: Volume One (Hardcover)
Bob Dylan's autobiographical book is a great read, written with real character and a great sense of location. This is not a traditional autobiography, as it covers only a few sections of Dylan's life: it can roughly be divided in to two halves - pre and post fame.

The pre-fame chapters were my preferred section, where Dylan describes his life in New York City on the fringes of the folk scene. This was a rich, evocative piece of storytelling, full of colourful characters and a terrific presence of a snowbound, wintry New York City, with Dylan living on other people's sofas, warming himself near a stove and reading random parts of books he comes across, all the while in the background there is a sense that all this experience is building towards something that he doesn't yet fully grasp.

The post-fame section mostly describes the process of making the Oh Mercy album of 1989, recorded in New Orleans. This was still an interesting read and provides an insight in to Dylan's procedure of writing and recording, where he gives great credit to those he worked with. There are also some curious interludes - some about Dylan and his wife going for a motorbike ride, some about his home life and all the intrusive weirdoes who turn up expecting an audience with him, others about him simply wondering about the city, seeking inspiration in unlikely places.

Chronicles Volume One is a surprisingly easy and engaging read, though quite why I found any of this surprising I am still not sure. Bob Dylan comes across as simply human: puzzled and slightly annoyed by all the "voice of a generation" rubbish that has been spoken about him, a man who admires others more than he feels admired, somebody with musical tastes veering from the obvious (Woody Guthrie and Robert Johnson) to the eyebrow-raising - Public Enemy, ICE-T, Run-DMC, NWA, Ice Cube - people who he regards as prime artists and storytellers, depicting their world as they see it (as a lifelong hip hop fan, I've always seen that connection but was surprised to find Dylan sees it too; Eminem has referred to himself as a "hip hop Elvis" due to his successful appropriation of a black musical art form by a white artist. However, I've always regarded Eminem as a hip hop Bob Dylan because of his awesome lyrical mastery. Perhaps Eminem is the new Bob Dylan / or Bob Dylan the old Eminem...).

Ultimately, I found that I came away from this short book with a greater sense of "the real Bob Dylan" than I had with a book twice this length - Robert Shelton's fawning and protracted No Direction Home. I put off reading Chronicles Volume One for many years, thinking it would be more of a curiosity than anything else and possibly worse, that it would be filled with that dreadful, unreadable stream of consciousness gibberish that is so popular with those who like to think of themselves as avant-garde. Neither of those prejudices of mine were thankfully fulfilled. This book is an insightful read, full of warmth and character and one that I can wholeheartedly recommend to any Bob Dylan fan.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bob Kerouac or Jack Dylan?, 4 Nov. 2004
This review is from: Chronicles: Volume One (Hardcover)
I know it is boring to give this book 5 stars. However, as a late developer I have only grown to like Mr Dylan's work in recent times. I can't bragg about being there at the time but now that the music industry is at the point of eating itself, one can take comfort in the fact that this legend is still alive and can still produce a gift like this...can I give it 6?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars chronically boring, 5 April 2014
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This review is from: Chronicles: Volume One (Hardcover)
I was hoping to find this book bubbling with the spirit and wit of the Dylan songs of my youth. Instead, I found it dull, repetitive, negative in tone, and sprinkled with pointless litanies of musicians. I feel very sorry to have to say this about the memories of a man whose songs I liked so much.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dylan's Back Pages, 8 Oct. 2004
By 
Mr. P. J. Jones (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Chronicles: Volume One (Hardcover)
By my own admission I am not the speediest of readers, but I whistled through this book in no time.
It's as insightful as it is masterfully written. It takes you to smokey coffeshop Greenwich Village in the 60s. This book bursts with colourful description and great storytelling.
Even if you were not the biggest Dylan fan, you would still find this a spellbinding read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful Reminiscence, 4 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Chronicles: Volume One (Paperback)
Who'd have thought Dylan would/could ever have written this? Apart from his recent renaissance as a recording artist this is the best present any Dylan fan could wish for. It reads like a more coherent version of 'Tangled Up In Blue' full of twists and turns with Dylan's voice always firmly in your mind. What appealed most was Dylan's humility. I didn't see any of the old Dylan arrogance in there, just a very human character, puzzled by an alien world that sometimes sees him as a god. At one stage he longs for life behind a white fence in surburbia as a normal man. Fantastic on his early years and great on flashbacks to key moments in his career. I hope we get another Volume out of him.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bob The Builder, 10 Aug. 2014
This book had me hooked in the first few paragraphs. You suddenly know you're in the presence of a voice, a storyteller with a story to tell, even although you know that this is The Bob Dylan and you've probably heard some of it before. Rock stars. Is there anything they don't know? I've read Keith Richards, Rod Stewart, that bloke from the Happy Mondays, and plenty I've forgotten too, but Dylan speaks to you with a different voice. It gives you a peek into the mind of an artist, of someone whose mental framework is constructed differently to perceive the world.
I was hooked, but the hook didn't really last. I enjoyed the writing and the observations of the Greenwich Village scene in the days before he was famous. I also liked his more recent memories of recording Oh Mercy in New Orleans, a diversion the book screeches into as if to break up all the old reminiscing. But, I don't know, somehow he lost me along the way. Maybe he's just too much of a geek about his subject, the roots of American folk music and blues. It's a bit like when you were a student, stuck listening to some dweeb who knows so many more obscure indie bands than you do. As if it mattered THAT much. I suppose Dylan does matter, but it's hard to gain perspective. He's of the Sixties, for sure, but the Seventies, the Eighties and beyond? Did he offer anything then? Is he of a time and a place or will he span the decades? Hard to tell. Will he care? Not sure about that either, we'll have to wait until Volume Two, maybe, to get the man's thoughts about what happened after he became A Star.
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Bob Dylan: Chronicles: v. 1
Bob Dylan: Chronicles: v. 1 by Bob Dylan (Audio CD - 15 Nov. 2004)
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