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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Unending Love of Bob Dylan

"In a few years' time a shit storm would be unleashed. Things would begin to burn. Bras, draft cards, American flags, bridges, too--everybody would be dreaming of getting it on. The national psyche would change and in a lot of ways it would resemble the Night of the Living Dead. The road out would be treacherous, and I didn't know where it would lead but I followed it anyway. It was a strange world ahead that would unfold, a thunderhead of a world with jagged lightening edges. Many got it wrong and never did get it right. I went straight into it. It was wide open. One thing for sure, not only was it not run by God, but it wasn't run by the devil either."

Thus ends Chronicles, Volume One, by Bob Dylan. Jaye read this book several years ago during her renaissance period in Florence where she actually learned more about American rock and roll history than she did about Michelangelo or DaVinci or the Medici. I had a loose exposure to Dylan's music in the slapdash fashion that most people our age are exposed to the previous generation's music without really taking it as our own. But Jaye in Florence was a Jaye seeking out every possible avenue about the 1960's and the music that defined that turbulent time frame. On the day she purchased Chronicles from the bookstore Dylan was playing on the store's PA system--a welcome English sound in a world that spoke Italian. It was the same year that I'm Not There was released and the bookstore was in the middle of promoting the film along with all manner of Dylan books, CD's and memorabilia. Jaye had gone to the store to read a comprehensive history of the Peace symbol which she could not afford to buy. For reasons long forgotten now she came away with Chronicles knowing only that Bob Dylan was a pot head and symbol of the counter-culture.

The book, which may or may not some day have two more volumes published, was a revelation for Jaye, who was used to reading biographies written from the distanced third-person researcher's perspective. Reading Dylan's own words, filled with his peculiar sense of rhythm, with tangents, with dead-end subjects, and beautiful descriptions, the world she had been piecing together as a history became a real living place with real people and passion. It is as much a misdirection of the facts as it is truth. It feels more than it recites facts. In this way, Jaye found it much more intimate and enlightening than any of the books she had read in her research. If there are any music fans who have not read this book, please do try it.

And now, to revive a long-lost tradition on this blog...a List of Five much loved Dylan songs that Jaye and I have discovered since Jaye read this book, in no particular order. Please do share your thoughts! And check out Amnesty International's album of Dylan covers.

1. Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. Blonde on Blonde

 2. Love Minus Zero/No Limit. Bringing it All Back Home

3. Not Dark Yet. Time Out of Mind

4. When the Deal Goes Down. Modern Times

5. Mr. Tambourine Man. Bringing it All Back Home


  1. I loved the book. It was much more skillfully crafted than I expected, and he really found a great voice/tone for it.

    Also love 'Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands'

  2. Hi fellow Writers Platform Building Campaigner. I stopped by to tell you that you have been tagged in a game of eleven questions. http://www.awritersmuses.blogspot.com/