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Chronicles Audiobook
Chronicles
Written by: 
Bob Dylan
Narrated by: 
Sean Penn
Chronicles Audiobook

Chronicles: Volume One

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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Sean Penn reading Bob Dylan's memoirs. It doesn't get any better than this. Dylan mixes his life with his music, his thoughts with his lyrics, and Sean Penn puts us right inside his head. Dylan and Penn are a perfect combination, spanning two generations of celebrity, making us feel the weight and breadth of life for Dylan and the people who have hung on his every word and note. —Chris Doheny

Publisher's Summary

Bob Dylan's Chronicles: Volume One explores the critical junctions in his life and career. Through Dylan's eyes and open mind, we see Greenwich Village, circa 1961, when he first arrives in Manhattan. Dylan's New York is a magical city of possibilities: smoky, nightlong parties; literary awakenings; transient loves and unbreakable friendships. Elegiac observations are punctuated by jabs of memories, penetrating and tough. With side trips to New Orleans, Woodstock, Minnesota and points west, Chronicles: Volume One is an intimate and intensely personal recollection of extraordinary times.

Revealing, poetical, passionate and witty, Chronicles: Volume One is a mesmerizing window on Bob Dylan's thoughts and influences. Dylan's voice is distinctively American: generous of spirit, engaged, fanciful, and rhythmic. Utilizing his unparalleled gifts of storytelling and the exquisite expressiveness that are the hallmarks of his music, Bob Dylan turns Chronicles: Volume One into a poignant reflection on life, and the people and places that helped shape the man and the art.

©2004 Bob Dylan; (P)2004 Simon & Schuster Inc. AUDIOWORKS is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Audie Award Winner, Biography/Memoir, 2005
  • 2005 Quill Award Nominee
  • Grammy Award Nominee, Best Spoken Word Album, 2005

"Volume 1 of Dylan's memoirs was pretty cool to begin with. But to have it read by Sean Penn on audio takes it to a new level: the most talented songwriter of all time as performed by the most talented actor of his generation. Mr. Penn clearly has a blast inhabiting the role and navigating Dylan's jagged, impressionistic prose." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (514 )
5 star
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4.0 (214 )
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Story
4.2 (208 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Philip Upper Hutt, New Zealand 04-16-12
    Philip Upper Hutt, New Zealand 04-16-12 Member Since 2011
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    "More Chronic than Chronicles unfortunately......."
    What would have made Chronicles better?

    Although potentially interesting material I found it rather unexciting rendition of Dylan's life. One hopes it was more than his pursuit of a musical career, considering his great contribution to the scene over many decades. Maybe this medium is not his best and he best communicates through his lyrics and songs. Sean Penn sounded a bit Dylanish but I might have preferred to have listened to Dylan's undeciferable drawl than his. He did not really 'lift' the story as much as I would have hoped. A missed opportunity.


    Has Chronicles turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No. Keith Richards book was very interesting.


    What three words best describe Sean Penn’s voice?

    Lack of enthusiasm


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment


    Any additional comments?

    I suspect I will still listen to Chronicles 2 etc. but I hope his later years are a bit more enlightening.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tonny Herlev, Denmark 11-13-08
    Tonny Herlev, Denmark 11-13-08 Member Since 2010
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    "Best audio book I ever heard"

    I have just listen to this book for 5 hours straight, I just wish it was 5 hours longer, best narrator voice I have ever heard, and what an unbelievable story. It felt like when my father would read me my favorite bedtime story, and I wish it would never end.
    Thank you Sean Penn and Bob Dylan

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leslie Mamaroneck, NY, USA 12-31-04
    Leslie Mamaroneck, NY, USA 12-31-04
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    "Shot Rabbits"

    Been thinking about Charles question about Shot Rabbits -- The description Dylan gave of music littering the floor like the aforementioned shot rabbits. I kinda liked it... it brought an image of activity, frenetic, lively and not too controlled being stilled and discarded... an " off" image no doubt but one that allowed me to get a picture of what he was seeing/experiencing

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim Seattle, WA, USA 04-10-05
    Tim Seattle, WA, USA 04-10-05
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    "Great history riding on metaphor-itis"

    I really enjoyed the historical tale of an iconic folk/pop music figure and hearing about the folk music scene of 50s and 60s. It was enlightening to better understand why Dylan faded from the light for so many years.

    I have great respect for Dylan's song writing and lyrical mastery. His writing, as in this chronicle, is less desirable. He gets so caught up in making metaphors for even the most mundane things and putting 20 words where 4 would carry the same effect, power. It sometimes feels like he is trying to prove something, writing his book like a series of songs...and while a great idea, in this case took away from my enjoyment of the book.

    Take it easy with the metaphors Bob. I'm getting dizzy like a top spinning on the table of reason in a the middle of a hot argument ;-)

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chazz 12-20-04
    Chazz 12-20-04

    One Man's Opinion

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    "It's All Right Ma, It's Life and Life Only"

    Well sort of. Let me start by saying I love Dylan. I listen to his songs with as much enthusiasm today as I did when I first heard them.

    I am very rarely interested in celebrity autobiographies - I am content to experience their Art. In hindsight I should have followed my own inclinations.

    However, it was DYLAN?S BOOK and so eager was I to read it that I overlooked the fact that it is abridged - to me a cardinal sin. If I wanted Readers Digest I'd go buy it.

    Abridged or not, if you are expecting a straight forward accounting of his life you won't find it here. There are some gems of information and some interesting insights into a self proclaimed preordained life. He seems to have a very different idea of what the "significant" episodes in his life are than the average fan.

    About half way through I got tired of a millionaire complaining how hard stardom is. "why won't they leave me alone" seems to be his mantra. Well, we love you Bob, no one made you write great music. I agree that artists owe the public nothing more than the best art they can produce, but enough whining already.

    In the end I can not recommend this book from a great artist. Buy his albums they will tell you much more of how a being comes to write such immortal words.


    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Chicago, IL, USA 11-24-04
    Charles Chicago, IL, USA 11-24-04
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    "Understanding"

    Not the autobiography I was hoping for, Chronicles Volume One has some interesting tales of Bob Dylan and his brushes with music legends. Though, Sean Penn did an excellent job of reading the work, I found Dylan?s prolific use of similes and metaphors almost comical. I haven?t heard the word ?like? used this much since the movie ?Valley Girl.? I wish I had counted how many comparisons he made in this book.
    He was talking about writing music and said ?music was covering the floor like shot rabbits.? Shot rabbits? What the heck does that mean? Oh well, the book has some entertainment value, but I doubt I will read volume Two.
    In typical Dylan-esque ?reading this book was like riding a tricycle in a river of molasses with eagles pecking at my head.?

    28 of 48 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JJ Charles 12-18-12
    JJ Charles 12-18-12
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    "Prepare to be underwhelmed"

    Dylan is one of very few musicians in the English speaking world whose lyrics one can print out, read like poetry, and not laugh. While this compliment is clearly subjective, it would be difficult to argue otherwise and be taken seriously. If any musician has ever had "a way with words", Dylan is certainly a candidate for that praise.

    In "Chronicles" however, Dylan has profoundly little to say, yet manages to say it proudly. There's an astonishing shortage of quotable (or otherwise memorable) passages. I now understand why Jonah Lehrer, after searching for a quotation, felt constrained to make one up. Having read Chronicles, I no longer blame him for this (though I would be more approving if the quotation were just absurd: "I like my lagers light and my women thick" or some such).

    Overall:

    If you're a devoted Dylan fan, you'll still get something out of the investment. For example, I had no idea Dylan was so fond of rap (and more specifically, Ice-T).

    If you're only somewhat devoted (i.e., if you CAN get enough of Dylan), you'll probably feel the five hours could have been condensed to 20 minutes without losing any worthwhile content.

    Regarding the narration: Sean Penn is an incredible actor ("the Dylan of the matte white screen"), but those skills don't seem to translate very well to reading books out loud.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    The Fan Los Angeles, CA USA 11-30-05
    The Fan Los Angeles, CA USA 11-30-05 Member Since 2016
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    "A total disappointment----a waste of time"

    I had looked forward to this book. It doesn't make it. It is disjointed, with little chronological flow. Although the book starts when Dylan was a nobody, it then skips to when he was over the hill. The most interesting part---the years in the 1960's and early 1970's, when Dylan achieved superstar status---is ignored. While Dylan skips the most important part of his career, he dwells on many irrelevant or nearly irrelevant subjects. The book is filled with filler, including painful descriptions of the weather and over-use of adjectives and metaphors relating to meaningless subjects. He spends seemingly endless time talkabout his making of an album that didn't work, but no time talking about his major hits. The only plus: Sean Penn sounds like Dylan. Other than that bright moment, Dylan would do us all a favor if Volume 1 were the last volume. This is sad because I love Dylan's early music.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan O'Byrne 05-08-16
    Dan O'Byrne 05-08-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Abridged ?!?!? Why? For the love of God, Why?!?!"
    Would you try another book from Bob Dylan and/or Sean Penn?

    I love Dylan. Read this book when it was first published. I did not realize when I purchased it that it was abridged. (What an insult to the writer! Why?) Indeed, the things I remembered as most fascinating were omitted. Why? Who decided which of Dylan's words were superfluous? Why? To abridge a book is to butcher it. Why?


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    uh . . . Bob Dylan! His conversation with Sun Pie was memorable. I loved the question, "What do you pray for?' Dylan: "I pray that I can be a kinder person." Works for me!


    What about Sean Penn’s performance did you like?

    Bob Dylan's seeking voice is surprising different from his singing voice. I love both. Sean Penn is a suitable substitute.


    What else would you have wanted to know about Bob Dylan’s life?

    He promised three volumes. Loved Volume One. All I really want to do . . is read volume Two! And three!! Where are they?!?! I've been waiting twelve years.


    Any additional comments?

    Dylan claims he's only ever voted in one election, saying that back in the day "[His] favorite politician was Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater." I kept waiting to hear that, hoping I could believe my ears when I could not believe my eyes. But that got abridged. sigh

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike 02-01-16
    Mike 02-01-16
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    "Wow"

    So good. Dylan is a fantastic writer. Sean Penn's simple delivery was perfect for this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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