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
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 15 months ago by tony haslegrave
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bringing it all back home....,
This book provides a fascinating insight into the genius of the legendary Bob Dylan, though does feel rather incomplete - making it equally remarkable (but confounding) at the same time.
If you are hoping for a chronological account of Bob's life though, you will be disappointed - Bob just doesn't roll that way!
But what he does do is write beautifully & poetically (as any fan of his music would expect), giving us wonderfully atmospheric clues & glimpses into his upbringing, childhood & early life, as we journey with him through his myriad influences & inspirations all the way until he lands up in Greenwich Village in 1961 on the brink of his greatest fame & success.
At this point in the book though, Bob mysteriously jumps to a point at the end of the 60s (just before Nashville Skyline I think), before then jumping into the late 80s to spend a good chunk of the book talking about the making of his critically-acclaimed comeback album 'No Mercy'!
This is all fascinating stuff, but I think most readers would have loved to have heard more about his 'golden years' of the 60s - there's virtually nothing here about that period at all; the classic albums, meeting The Beatles, his marriage, & of course the (by no means) small incident of daring to plug his guitar into an amp....
I guess the clue was in the book's title (Volume 1) - although where the next volumes are (& if we'll ever get them) remains to be seen.
What we do get here though are many wonderful insights in the mind of a genuine musical genius, & what really inspired Bob to become the musician, poet, lyricist & visionary he would become. He 'speaks as he finds', & as a reader you feel very close to him & drawn in to his world. He 'shoots from the hip' in an honest, gritty, no-holds barred writing style that feels like an extension of his music.
Despite its flaws, this is a thoroughly enjoyable & fascinating account of his life, & certainly a must-read for every fan.
4.0 out of 5 stars Bob The Builder,
This review is from: Chronicles Volume 1 (Kindle Edition)
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than I had hoped,
I recently finished reading the first (and to date, lone) volume of Bob Dylan's Chronicles and found it an utterly engrossing read.
Anyone who listens to Dylan's records will know him as a superior, talented wordsmith, but it was reading his prose - crackling, sparky, full of wit and sometimes surprising amounts of emotion - that finally really made me connect with him as a writer. His lyrics are evocative and poetic, as is his prose, but he has a real talent in the latter form for narrative exploration and character-developing.
Dylan wouldn't do something so boring as a chronological account of his life and times. This doesn't start in 1941 and end in 1961, with a promised second volume all about his '60s heyday. Oh no. Instead, Dylan focuses on a few select periods of his life and career - his time spent performing in New York City before getting his record deal, his life in Woodstock with his family, but persecuted by the press and over-zealous fans, in the late '60s, and his time in New Orleans in the late '80s recording Oh Mercy with Daniel Lanois.
Each different time period is given due credit, due respect, and each one is made interesting and alive by the sheer power and accessibility of Dylan's beautiful way with words.
I came away from this book feeling like I knew Dylan a little better, maybe understood his music a little better, and inspired to follow his example. As good as any rock star autobiography you're likely to read.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars not just for fans,
This is an astonishing book for such an evasive figure. The fragmentary approach does give the impression of Dylan actively limiting his candour but what he does give away is revealing, clear minded (with the odd exception) and beautifully written.
The best section for me concerns his formative years and folk club adventures in new york. Dylan sings the praise of the music and performers he admired - not just Woody Guthrie but Robert Johnson, his contemporary/mentor Dave Von Ronk and many others. His modesty in the face of his heroes contrasts hugely with the blazingly disdainful figure of legend.
He is also quite prepared to discuss his inadequacies. At one point he describes how he walked out of a session with the Grateful Dead, convinced he was walking out on his life as a musician, concluding that his best work was way behind him and he was no longer capable of breathing any life into his old songs . Tho there is salvation from that abject misery, it is small, temporary and eccentric (he is inspired by a singer in a bar just belting out songs), as if he has discovered no more than a small pocket of oxygen in a huge vacuum.
This is an intriguing and honest if incomplete memoir of a unique, brilliant and you have to conclude, somewhat damaged artist.
4.0 out of 5 stars Unorthodox, Unusual and Insightful - Just Like Dylan Himself,
Those looking for your run of the mill music biography should probably look else were. Very far away in fact- maybe Mongolia. As you might expect from an iconic figure such as Dylan, Chronicles: Volume 1 doesn't follow the common path of `raise, fall, raise and aged respectability' that one finds in most books of this genre, however this is not to say it doesn't contain elements of this formula (what musicians tale doesn't?) Dylan has opted instead to give the readers a taste of his unique viewpoint on life and show us what it is to be a songwriter in this often-mad and unfair world. No chorological order in these near 300 pages, just selected moments in his life that Dylan happens to feel like sharing with us. Fans and newbie's looking for exciting tales of his generation defining sixties albums will be disappointed, no such luck - maybe for Chronicles Volume 2? Time will tell. However if your looking for a pure Dylan'esque experience and a glance into the workings of the great man this is no doubt the best place to start. From his early years as an unshakeable and single-mindedly determined young man trying forge his destiny to the later years showcasing the pressure and insanity that fame brought him once he had managed to do so. Chronicles: Volume 1 is as revealing, exotic and eye opening a read as it's subject.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars roll on two and three,
This review is from: Chronicles: Volume One (Hardcover)
I guess like everybody else here, I should declare an interest - I really like Bob Dylan and while sometimes I am a little disappointed by his musical outpourings, I don't regret a purchase and basically think pretty much all of it has something going for it. This is probably true for most of these reviewers...
When it came to Chronicles, I was worried - Dylan has the potential of course to tell a fantastic story, but also to make a terrible mess of telling the story. In this case I would have liked to rate the book with four and a half stars, because while it is without doubt the best book on Dylan I've read (and I've read a few), there are points where some editing would not have gone amiss.
I've gone with five stars because the first section, on Dylan's early hears in New York, is simply wonderful, as is the bit on the Woodstock years - I could read another five hundred pages on that lot quite happily. However, the middle section on the recording of Oh Mercy, is a bit on the long side, and I was not quite sure why it was included in such depth. Sure the stuff on Dylan's "new vocal technique", which would allow him to sing for hours with no fatigue, is weirdly fascinating, but also kind of aimless; a shorter section on this would have worked much better. We close up back in New York, with fame and success crowning the horizon, and of course, Bob doesn't let you down...
Dylan's writing style is his own of course, he's conversational and very definitely has his own voice, which you probably know very well indeed by now, and he has a few tricks up his sleeve, his favourite is a kind of cinematic flash-back which is a rather crude device, but executed with a touching naivety, and like most everything else in Chronicles, it fits.
If you have any interest in Dylan at all, you obviously want this book. Let's have two and three nice and quickly please Bob.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars portrait of an artist,
Is this the real Bob Dylan? who can say, but what we can say is that this book gives a tantilising insight into a man who was by any any odds the twentieth century's greatest lyricist and arguably it's biggest enigma. After forty years Dylan finally draws the curtain back, the result is a facinating journey through his influences and a times suprising idols. A compelling insight into the gestation of a genius. Dylan reveals far more than we dared hope.
2.0 out of 5 stars Rambling,
I found this a little disappointing. i was expecting it to be more revealing and more interesting. Although at tiems I found it boring, I did finally read it all the way through. It did help me sleep! It certainly shows Dylan to be a thinker and widely read. it shows him to be quite a detailed observer of what is going around about it. I don't think it really demonstrates the inspiration behind some or indeed any of his songs oe the stories behind his albums. It does not say a lot about some of the characters you would expect him to say more about such as for example Johnny Cash. Interesting to read about his early days in New York but not enough is said. Interesting to hear what he says about some of the protest singers of his day and his frustration about being labelled a protest singer himself and expected to lead protests. Again, I dont think enough is said and it is all a bit shallow. Having read it, I dont think I know much more about him than i guessed or did before i read it. I found myself skipping passages or pages because he was in my view rambling just too much. The one word that really fits my thoughts on this book is "rambling". I am disappointed
4.0 out of 5 stars An Autobiography That Gives Nothing Away,
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Eminently readable, richly textured with americana, old blues and an idiosyncratic use of Language Bob Dylan's first [and only?] volume of memoirs has been written in a style whih leaves as many questions unanswered as any of the songs he has written. These are memoirs in the true sense of the word sudden flashes of illumination on parts of social and musical history that burn through the pages right down to the cover leaving the reader excited and perplexed. If you want to know who Bob Dylan IS this is not the book that will tell you - unless you construct him from numerous references, asides, recollections and name-checks. A book that nobody but Dylan could have written chronicling an age which, to his later fans, may be as weird and old as the world of The American Anthology of Folk Music summoned up with reference to The Basement Tapes by Greil Marcus.
Dylan writes his songs, it's been claimed, in one sitting. This book is a series of songs, some old, some new, some impenatrable but every one of them essential. Will we see a Chronicles II? Maybe only in The Bible - which may have been the source for the title of this small masterpiece. Read it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Young Bobby - magic,
This review is from: Chronicles: Volume One (Hardcover)
This is a great read full stop. After all the speculation and unauthorised biographies galore its a real treat to read it direct from source. He talks of places 40 years ago so intimately you feel like you 're watching a classic movie.
Its a surprise to hear him talk of the past in such mythic tones but you can't help but be drawn in. Very easy to read and much,much too short. Roll on Vols 2 & 3 !
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Chronicles by Bob Dylan (Perfect Paperback - Jan. 2008)
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