Chronicles, Volume 1
One would expect Bob Dylan to be a great writer, but it is a delight that he is this good. These works shed light on Dylan, his process, his music, as well as his tussles with critics, interviewers, the public and language, and more. Hopefully there will be a volume two.
Excerpts from the cards
p. 7 Conversation with another man:
"What kind of music do you play?"
BD: "Folk Music"
"What kind of music is folk music?"
"I told him it was handed down songs. I hated these kind of questions. Felt I could ignore them."
p. 9 New York City
p. 11 description of the acts at Cafe Wha? and mention of Hubert's Flea Circus
p. 18- strumming-driving people away or drawing them in closer- "There was no in-between."
"Folk songs were the way I explored the universe, they were pictures and the pictures were worth more than anything I could say."
p. 20 (grandmother ) "...told me once that happiness isn't on the road to anything. That happiness is the road."
p. 32 "There were a million stories, just everyday New York...you'd have to pull it apart to make any sense of it." and also his comment about romance.
p. 34- On the Road and Howl- 45 records being incapable
"LPs were like the force of gravity..." staring at their covers
p. 35 "I just thought of mainstream culture as lam as hell and a big trick."
p. 36 "I was looking for the part of my education that I never got."
p. 39 "The folksingers could sing songs like an entire book, but only in a few verses."
p. 40- art books and artists
p. 42-43 (grandmother) "There are some people you'll just never be able to win over. Just let it go- let it wear itself out."
p. 45- morality and politics
-Vom Kriege Clausewitz's book- "If you think you're a dreamer, you can read this stuff and realize you're not even capable of dreaming. Dreaming is dangerous."
p. 46- "Horde your energy."
p. 52 "I never looked at songs as either 'good' or 'bad,' only different kinds of good ones."
p. 54- protest songs- "...You have to show people a side of themselves that they don't know is there."
p. 55 "Picasso had fractured the art world and cracked it wide open. He was revolutionary. I wanted to be like that."
-"I watched it intently, thinking I might not see it again."
p. 55-56- tv, destroying minds, "the three-minute song also did the same thing. Symphonies and operas are incredibly long, but the audience never seems to lose its place or fail to follow along. With the three-minute song, the listener doesn't have to remember anything as far back as twenty or even ten minutes ago. There's nothing you have to be able to connect. Nothing to remember."
p. 56 "I didn't feel the need to examine every stranger that approached."
p. 57 corduroy trousers
p. 60 Remington typewriter
p. 65 Peter Schumann, Bread & Puppet Theatre
p. 71 "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."
-"A folk song has over a thousand faces and you must meet them all if you want to play this stuff. A folk song might vary in meaning and it might not appear the same from one moment to the next. It depends on who's playing and who's listening."
p. 73 T.S. Eliot poem description
-"...Nietzsche talks about feeling old at the beginning of his life... I felt like that too."
p. 77 snowy streets and NYC as a magnet
p. 79 importance of spelling
p. 80 (New York City) "Lot of walking. Got to keep your feet in good shape."
p. 84 NYPL and microfilm- language and rhetoric of newspapers
p. 85 "It's all one long funeral song."
p. 86- different concepts of time in the North and the South
p. 87 Metro Diner, near 6th Ave
p. 88 "Semantics and labels could drive you crazy."
p. 93 "Polka dances always got my blood pumping."
p. 96 "I'd never seen a robin weep, but could imagine it and it made me sad."
-Hank Williams' songs "the archetype rules of poetic songwriting."
p. 99-100 Woody Gurthrie and the box of lyrics that Billy Bragg and Wilco would record
p. 112- Archibald MacLeish- sacrifices
p. 113 1968 "the cities were in flames"
p. 115 "As far as I knew, I didn't belong to anybody then or now."
"...spokesman, or even conscience of a generation. That was funny. All I'd ever done was sing songs that were dead straight and expressed powerful new realities. I had very little in common with my generation that I was supposed to be the voice of."
-"Being true to yourself, that was the thing."
p. 118 "Privacy is something you can sell, but you can't buy it back."
p. 122 Chekov
p. 123 "The press? I figured you lie to it."
p. 133 "...though he is approaching the perilous age of 30..."
p. 146- live performances
p. 147- keeping his word with himself
p. 148 "My own songs had become strangers to me."
p. 150- lying
p. 153- crowd, cutouts
p. 155 "They came to stare and not participate."
-"...the kind of crowd that would have to find me would be the kind of crowd who didn't know what yesterday was."
-"Most music journalists had become nothing more than a public relations staff anyway."
p. 156 "My bright eyes were dull and I could do nothing."
p. 158- Number 2 and popular music
p. 163 "As long as I was alive I was going to stay interested in something."
p. 165 "A song is like a dream, and you try to make it come true. They're like strange countries that you have to enter." "You can write a song anywhere...it helps to be moving."
p. 180- New Orleans "The city is one very long poem."
p. 182- Mason Ruffner- libraries- "reading Rimbaud and Baudelaire to get his language down."
p. 189 "...but the only way to find out, it to find out."
p. 195 "When it's right, you don't have to look for it."
p. 199 small print comment
p. 200- old water tower
p. 201 "...she was never one of those people who thinks that someone else is the answer to their happiness. She's always had her own built-in happiness."
p. 202 "Sometimes you could be looking for heaven in the wrong places."
p. 220 "Sometimes you say things in songs..."
p. 221 "Sometimes the things that you liked the best and that have meant the most to you are the things that meant nothing at all to you when you first heard or saw them."
p. 226- advice from his Dad
p. 235 "I supposed I was looking for was what I read about in On the Road..."
p. 243 Flo Castner introduced him to Woody's solo music
p. 244 "...his voice was like a stiletto."
p. 245- Woody's book Bound for Glory
p. 247 (Woody) "He painted with words."
p. 265- Suze- "We started talking and my head started to spin."
p. 269- Red Grooms
p. 270- drawings
p. 272 Bertolt Brecht
p. 275 "The audience was the "gentleman" in the song."
-comparing the song to Guernica
p. 283 "Twenty-four hour news coverage would have been a living hell."
p. 284 "When December rolled around, everything slowed down, everything got silent and retrospective, snowy white, deep snow."
p. 288 Suze introduced BD to Rimbaud "Je est un autre."