Sunday, November 21, 2004

Dylan - Chronicles Volume I

Finished reading Bob Dylan's autobiography - Chronicles - Volume 1. It's an interesting read, though certainly not a "reveal all" account of his life.. which is completely in character for Dylan. I thouroughly enjoyed the first third or so of the book which explored his early days in New York - the people he associated with, his influences and the atmosphere of Greenwich Village in the early 60s. I particularly liked the style he wrote it in, which was very poetic and reminded me of his songs from that time.

The book then skips a decade, when Dylan is a married man and being harried by a public wanting him to be "the voice of the generation" - which he definately didn't want to be. It gives a small insight into the fugative life he had to lead in those times, and the extent he went to (recording lots of intentionally bad albums) to get people off his back. The latter part of the book covers his artistic recovery after years of stagnation (which he is remarkably frank about). However, the second part of the book didn't appeal to me too much.. it's mostly since I knew a bit more about that time, and also because of the conversational style it's written in...

Dylan hardly mentions any of the events or songs he wrote which literally changed the face of music, and you get a distinct sense that he doesn't like hyperbole like what I've just said.. :) Of course, it's not like there hasn't been libraries worth of books written on the great Dylan songs, though I'd like to have heard more from the man himself.

In the end, the book is a satisfying read, though I'd only recommend it to other Dylan fans and fans of 60s folk music in genreal (the book is worth it just for the few pages on Dylan's relationship with Woody Guthrie). Hopefully we will hear more about Dylan's story, as the title hints at more to come... or it could just be Dylan playing with his audience...

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