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Chronicles: Volume One | [Bob Dylan]

Chronicles: Volume One

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.
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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

3.8 (406 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.8 (121 )
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1 star
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Story
4.0 (118 )
5 star
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4 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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  •  
    Gerry A. Brown Cupertino, CA USA 01-25-05
    Gerry A. Brown Cupertino, CA USA 01-25-05 Member Since 2003

    Cellphone Bozo

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    "Positively 4th Street"

    It's a warm summer's day in the interlude between summer school and fall quarter in the late 60's. We're all on the front porch of the adobe looking out over the valley. The big event of the day is that eventually the train will ramble by the back fence. The music is Dylan. Some say that if you can remember the 60s, you weren't there. I say that if you can't remember the words to your favorite Dylan tune, you weren't there.

    There is a reason that Dylan is considered the poet laureate of the Twentieth Century. And now he's back. Add to that the amazing reading by Sean Penn. Occaisonally you hear in his voice the sing-song verse of Dylan's early work. Occaisonally Penn sounds just like him.

    A definite read if you were there (and maybe styill are).

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mia Oslo, Norway 02-06-13
    Mia Oslo, Norway 02-06-13 Member Since 2012

    I am a miracle worker. Doing what I can to choose love over fear.

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    "Perfect hug and sleeping pill"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Chronicles to be better than the print version?

    I have never even seen the written book. The audio might be abridged, however listening to Sean Penn is beyond everything. It is like getting a hug by the "hot-boy" Sean Penn.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It is just like being a very extremly happy listener: Like a fly on the wall.


    Which character – as performed by Sean Penn – was your favorite?

    This is a memoir...


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes: Over and over and over. It is a sleeping pill with no side effects.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a snack bar. Yes: It might be abridged but if you love Sean Penn, Bob Dylan, N.Y.C. then this is highly credit proof. It will always be within the reach of my app.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra Banff, Alberta, Canada 12-28-05
    Debra Banff, Alberta, Canada 12-28-05 Member Since 2000
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    "Fascinating Book, Lousy Abridgement"

    This is a really fine autobiography, with plenty of fascinating insights into what has made Dylan tick. It's great as a companion to the new Martin Scorsese documentary picture No Direction Home, providing more detail, background and color on much of the same material. For my taste, Sean Penn's reading is good, certainly very listenable (even if he doesn't know how to pronounce Don Juan). Unfortunately, the abridgement seems to be terrible, leaving out huge chunks and ruining any sense of continuity. I don't mind the jumping back and forth, but completely excising a whole decade and suddenly Bob has a wife and 5 kids - it doesn't work. Still worth 4 stars for what remains.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Rosedale, MD, USA 03-02-05
    Steve Rosedale, MD, USA 03-02-05
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    "very Dylanesque"

    If you want to know Bob Dylan, if you've seen Don't Look Back but felt that it scratched the surface and you wanted more, if you want to see how Mr. Dylan saw his relationship to the folk scene, his roots, the milieu that the artist tapped into for creative inspiration and how he responded to it, check out Chronicles Volume 1. It's at one time, a fluid, lucid account, written in as imaginative a style as his most dreamlike work, which may not appeal to some, and at the same time, a disparate journey through the mind of the artist. Almost as much can be learned about him by how he says it, as by what he says. A candid account that strikes a questioning note when you think about the paths he took to get where he wanted to go, and the alternate routes he needed to take to avoid those paths that others wanted him to take and be who others wanted him to be. Do Moon River and polkas really provide the inspiration he says? Or is he still creating that alternate Him, still hiding out? A Dylanesque look into the source of his imagery, fortitude, passion. While I'm not clamoring for the Old Him, I happen to be one of those fans that never made the transition to Mr. Dylan's later works, post John Wesley Harding, but when Volume 2 comes out, it will be high on my list.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JE Rauton 11-15-04
    JE Rauton 11-15-04 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If you enjoy Dylan, You'll love Chronicles"

    I first saw Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival in the summer of 1963 and have followed his songs and career with great interest. May be hard to believe but the book is easy listening and superbly read by Sean Penn. You begin to understand the many levels of music, both creating and performing, and the man behind it.

    I can?t wait until we get ?Volume Two?.

    10 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Naomi CHICAGO, IL, United States 01-22-14
    Naomi CHICAGO, IL, United States 01-22-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Sean Penn does an AMAZING job"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Chronicles to be better than the print version?

    The only reason I rated the overall as four stars instead of five is because this version is abridged. I'm not sure why some sentences and even whole paragraphs were omitted; but I found it distracting.


    What did you like best about this story?

    We all know that Dylan can write lyrics. Now we know he can write prose. This remarkable account of a few selected chapters in his life is absolutely enthralling; revealing more about Dylan than many of us had known before. He's well-known for being cryptic (at the very least) during interview; here he's pretty forthcoming.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I found it very affecting to read how he tried to protect his family and his family life at a time when the public and media were calling for him to come forward as a leader in the cultural wars. He was appalled every time he was reproached for not being what other people wanted him to be. People protested outside his house because of his 'failure' to lead them. There were break-ins. (When I was listening to this, I thought of John Lennon, who was so accommodating to his fans and what finally happened to him....) Dylan just wanted to have his family left alone.

    I wonder how Dylan feels now as the same titles are ascribed to him: Voice of His Generation, a towering figure in American culture and a global twentieth-century icon, writer of protest songs and anthems of social movements. From now on, I'll think of him as he once described himself: A song and dance man.


    Any additional comments?

    Sean Penn's voice is perfect for this book. If Dylan doesn't narrate his own book, I can't think of anybody better than Penn.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Singapore, Singapore 11-20-13
    Matthew Singapore, Singapore 11-20-13 Member Since 2013

    Moving further from work extended my daily commute... thank God for Audible.

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    "Underwhelmed and Indifferent"

    Disclaimer: I am not the target demographic for this book. Before reading Chronicles, I had what can only be described as a passing acquaintance with Dylan's life, music and influence.

    Dylan definitely assumes the reader will already know his "story", so offers instead a series of rambling, non-linear reminiscences. From my perspective, this was not an autobiography, but more like watching a shadow puppet version of a life story. I guess I can see how Dylan fans would find the timeline-free account and endless name-dropping appetizing, but I could only detect subtle wafts of interest. I’ve never read the unabridged text, but I fear this abridged version could be partially (or even totally) to blame for the confusing narrative.

    About halfway through the book I decided to read the Wikipedia entry on Bob Dylan to get some context and grounding. Honestly, I found the Wikipedia entry more compelling than Chronicles.

    Sure, it's poetic — some of the most lyrical lines I've read in a book. But that brings me to the plagiarism controversy. It's obvious Dylan pulled some of the books best phrases and ideas from other writers. But I don't have an inherent problem with that — Dylan even references the imitative and “borrowed” nature of his music in Chronicles. However, knowing this is a manuscript stitched together from found spare-parts, only confirmed my feeling that Chronicles really has much less to say than I was expecting. It does prove that Dylan is a talented bower bird.

    Sean Penn gives a gruff and low performance, his voice dripping with burly apathy. I have to admit, Penn's celebrity does lend this recording an air of borrowed prestige. But if were judging the narration on quality alone, Penn’s performance is average at best. I’m afraid Sean’s indifferent style may have influenced my indifferent response to this reading.

    On a positive note, the book did pique my interest in 1960's counterculture, and inspired me to learn more about the music, the politics and the issues of that time — three stars for whetting my appetite.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Courtney D Jensen Connecticut, USA 12-18-12
    Courtney D Jensen Connecticut, USA 12-18-12 Member Since 2012
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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 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    pepej24 Guadalajara, Mexico 06-02-12
    pepej24 Guadalajara, Mexico 06-02-12 Member Since 2011
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    "This book is great, but the reading is abridged.."

    Dylan on Dylan! It's brilliant, enlightening and poetic. Unfortunately, this version is abridged; and that is a pity. Now I have to get the unabridged version. This is a document that cannot be read except in full. A life is in full, Dylan's life is fuller than most; and an abridgment is unexcusable. More so when read immaculately by Sean Penn.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Manoj R Nayak Mumbai 04-30-12
    Manoj R Nayak Mumbai 04-30-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Abridged dissapoints"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Sean Penn has done a marvelous job , but the abridged narration is too hurried and doesnt do justice to the listener. I strongly recommend audible to put up the complete version.


    What was most disappointing about Bob Dylan’s story?

    The abridged version had just a paragraph on Joan Baez , disappointing for me.


    What does Sean Penn bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Sean Penn is fabulous.


    Could you see Chronicles being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Sure.. the complete version


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 32 results PREVIOUS124NEXT
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  • Gregory
    United Kingdom
    5/16/14
    Overall
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    "Excellent...when will Vol.2 be pubished?"
    If you could sum up Chronicles in three words, what would they be?

    Artists will enjoy.


    What other book might you compare Chronicles to, and why?

    Dont usually read music bios.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    All worthwhile...desriptions of the creative process I enjoyed very much.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Descriptions of the creative process.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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