For many years I’ve been a huge Robert Zimmerman fan. I still remember the first CD of his I bought and have been hooked ever since! Unlike other artists, whom I’ve listened for periods and then forgotten Dylan has managed to stand the test of time.
I bought Dylan’s Chronicles years ago and finally got around to reading it this year. And what a treat it was!
It’s a difficult book to describe. Like many of the man’s powerful ballads, the story is a criss-cross of tales with no clear time frame. The story isn’t linear but jumps out from various periods during his early song-writing years. It gives the reader a sense of what Dylan was doing whilst trying to break into the music scene. In this way the novel shows a side to Dylan that we take for granted, from playing in small bars and clubs in Greenwich Village and staying in less than desirable bedsits right up until his Woodstock days.
The novel reads beautifully, it isn’t written in a passive voice, merely stating facts that happened. Instead each snapshot he offers of these key years reads like one of his songs. There is a beautiful poetic flow to each random event and we get a real taste of what each section meant to him and how they shaped his life. He offers the reader an intimate insight of his mind and inner workings. What we receive is a rich tapestry of stories and events.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who has even the slightest interest in one of the greatest songwriters and minds of this generation. Like so many successful people in their field, we tend to forget their humble beginnings and their struggles in the early years. Dylan in his Chronicles, presents these with humility and frankness which combined with the almost lyrical flow he writes in makes this book a must-read.