Chronicles, Bob Dylan

Chronicles chapters 1 & 2

“There was a fire between him (Billy the Butcher) and everybody else”  – Dylanesque

“Nelson had never been a bold innovator like the early signers who sang like they wee navigating burning ships”

“The madly complicated modern world was something I took little interest in”

In chapter one, the reader is immersed in details that they had only wondered about for the length of Dylan’s career. Suddenly we are reading his own book, with facts that only he knows, stories from periods of time where songs were written and recorded that we’ve always wondered about. Being a young man in New York City who all of a sudden is surrounded with these incredible talents, voices, and instrumentalists it would have been easy for Dylan to feel like a fish out of water. Instead, he thrived on their creative energy and used it to fuel his own desire to encompass the stage presence and talent they had come to display on stage. He seems to have soaked everything in, remembering details that others may have forgotten. Waitresses he had flings with, an afternoon spent listening to records, a certain performer who had made even the tiniest of impression of him. The chapter leaves the reader wanting to know even more of these casual, but intimate details, and curious as to which of their questions will be answered.

“I had no song in my repertoire for commercial anyway”

“Not only that, but my style was too erratic and hard to pigeonhole for the radio, and songs to me were more important than just entertainment”

“I just thought of main stream culture as lame as hell and one cheap trick”

“(Al Capone) A suckerfish, seems like a man who never got out alone in nature for a minute of his life”

“Protest songs are hard to write without coming off preachy and one dimensional. You have to show people a side of themselves that they don’t know is there”

“It looked like he was dreaming a dead dream” – Dylanesque

“Before he could he was even born, this music had to be in his blood. Nobody could just learn this stuff”

“Folk songs are evasive- the truth about life, and life is more or less a lie, but then again that’s exactly the way we want it to be”

“Len was brilliant and full of goodwill, one of those guys who believed that all of society could be affected by one solitary life” (very different from Dylan)

“Folk songs played in my head, as they always did”

Chapter 2 offers extensive insight of Dyan’s view on the media, folk music, and how he sees his own music. The passages I highlighted were ones I found to be very telling and answers to questions people have wondered for years.  I especially enjoyed the story of how one time Dylan heard Malcolm X speaking on the radio saying that you shouldn’t eat pork. For whatever reason, it stuck with him and he stopped eating pork. Years alter while at Johnny Cash’s home with various other folk singers, he was called out on the topic and when he was asked why, all he could do was quote Malcolm X which was followed by the type of intense awkward silence you could cut with a knife. It was a moment that I really appreciated and I don’t exactly know why. It’s interesting to see the vulnerable side of Dylan.

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