Sunday, December 05, 2004
Bob Dylan's CHRONICLES: Vol. One published by Simon & Schuster
The new Bob Dylan book is out. In “Chronicles: Volume 1” Dylan, who penned such beautiful yet sad narratives like the Ballad of Hollis Brown, the Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol, Seven Curses, Blind Willie Mctell and John Brown, shares his own story for a change. Chronicles is Dylan’s personal account of significant moments in his life and career. I haven’t read the book, but if the excerpts that I have read and listened to are any indication, Dylan’s stories may prove to be as interesting as his songs.
A CD version, with excerpts from the book wonderfully read by Sean Penn, is also available. In one such excerpt, Dylan tells of his frequent visits to his idol and friend Woody Guthrie. Guthrie, who Dylan calls “The true voice of the American Spirit”, was already confined by then to the Greystone Hospital, a mental institution. Dylan recounts visiting him, bringing "cigarettes and playing songs for him." Dylan sang for Woody, Woody's own songs like Dust Bowl Blues, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Tom Joad, which Dylan all knew by heart. In one of these visits, Woody tells Dylan about boxes of songs that havent been recorded and said that Dylan was welcome to them. Woody gave Dylan directions to his house in Mermaid Avenue, Coney Island. Like a true disciple, Dylan took the subway and made the trip to Woody’s house. Dylan recounts “a babysitter opened the door. Margorie was not there but Woody’s son Arlo who was just about 10 or 12 years old then told the babysitter to let me in.” Dylan left Woody’s house without seeing the boxes of songs that Woody told him about. “40 years later Billy Bragg and the group Wilco would get access to these songs bringing them full life. Maybe they were not yet even born when I made that trip” said Dylan.
You can listen to the excerpts by visiting http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6099172/site/newsweek/