Monday, June 05, 2017

Books: Bob Dylan - Chronicles Vol. 1 (Simon & Schuster, 2005)

Bob Dylan's autobiography is a wonder of wordplay and storytelling, which is as compelling as some of his best lyrics. He subverts the normal architecture of biographies by jumping ahead to when he first moved to New York City and his description of early sixties New York as a frozen winter wonderland where he was struggling and scuffling to make it as a musician, also shows him seemingly overloaded, drunk on literature, music, film and other stimulants. From there we flash forward to 1968, and Dylan is now world famous, but in his own mind infamous. He is trying to take a break from music and desperate to try to create some space for himself and his family. From Woodstock to New York and beyond, he is relentlessly chased by seekers who believe he has the answers to everything and the press who wants to know what the "voice of his generation" has to say. We flash forward again to 1987 and a very intricate and in-depth recollection of the recording of the Oh Mercy album, a powerful and under appreciated comeback produced by Daniel Lanois. It was a difficult birth, beginning with Dylan having a moment of clarity about performing and writing, and then the recording sessions in New Orleans which stretched over a long period of time. From there, we end where we began, back in an icy cold New York City, with some detours to his formative years in Minnesota. He signs a contract for albums and songwriting, and the rest is history. This was a fantastic book, with many idiosyncratic twists and turns, and details of a unique and fascinating life. Chronicles: Volume One - amazon.com

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