Dylan Chronicles: Vol 1 (Bob Dylan Chronicles)

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9780743228152: Dylan Chronicles: Vol 1 (Bob Dylan Chronicles)

""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.

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Review:

As the first volume of Chronicles, Bob Dylanís 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 Ė 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 Ė 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 Dylanís lyrics (and thatís 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. Itís 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

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

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