WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE
The celebrated first memoir from arguably the most influential singer-songwriter in the country, Bob Dylan.
“I’d come from a long ways off and had started a long ways down. But now destiny was about to manifest itself. I felt like it was looking right at me and nobody else.”
So writes Bob Dylan in Chronicles: Volume One, his remarkable book exploring critical junctures in his life and career. Through Dylan’s eyes and open mind, we see Greenwich Village, circa 1961, when he first arrives in Manhattan. Dylan’s New York is a magical city of possibilities—smoky, nightlong parties; literary awakenings; transient loves and unbreakable friendships. Elegiac observations are punctuated by jabs of memories, penetrating and tough. With the book’s side trips to New Orleans, Woodstock, Minnesota, and points west, Chronicles: Volume One is an intimate and intensely personal recollection of extraordinary times.
By turns revealing, poetical, passionate, and witty, Chronicles: Volume One is a mesmerizing window on Bob Dylan’s thoughts and influences. Dylan’s voice is distinctively American: generous of spirit, engaged, fanciful, and rhythmic. Utilizing his unparalleled gifts of storytelling and the exquisite expressiveness that are the hallmarks of his music, Bob Dylan turns Chronicles: Volume One into a poignant reflection on life, and the people and places that helped shape the man and the art.
After a career of principled coyness, Dylan takes pains to outline the growth of his artistic conscience in this superb memoir. Writing in a language of cosmic hokum and street-smart phrasing, he lingers not on moments of success and celebrity, but on the crises of his intellectual development. He reconstructs, for example, an early moment in New York when he realized "that I would have to start believing in possibilities that I wouldn't have allowed before, that I had been closing my creativity down to a very narrow, controllable scale...that things had become too familiar and I might have to disorient myself." And he recounts how, in that search for larger reach, he actually went to the public library's microfilm archives to learn the rhetoric of Civil War newspapers. Skipping the years of his greatest records, or perhaps saving those years for the second volume of his chronicle, Dylan recalls the times when he was sick of his public persona and made more lackluster albums like "Self-Portrait" and "New Morning." He then skips again to his comeback work with producer Daniel Lanois in the late 1980s. Dylan emphasizes that he was "indifferent to wealth and love," and readers looking for private revelations will be disappointed. But others will prize the display of musical integrity and seriousness that is evident in his minutia-filled accounts of his influences in folk and blues. Ultimately, this book will stand as a record of a young man's self-education, as contagious in its frank excitement as the letters of John Keats and as sincere in its ramble as Jack Kerouac's On the Road, to which Dylan frequently refers. A person of Dylan's stature could have gotten away with far less; that he has been so thoughtful in the creation of this book is a measure of his talents, and a gift to his fans.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Incredible, a masterpiece of literature. Feels like you are hearing Dylan himself in your mind. Amazing anecdotes of his early life before stardom.
This is an absolutely essential part of the American canon. Dylan is a wonderful writer, his fluid memory giving up little gems when you least expect it. He’s a consummate observer of the human condition and it shines in ‘Chronicles.’
Really enjoyed reading this. Many players involved in Dylan's evolution.