Chronicles

Volume One
By: Bob Dylan
Narrated by: Sean Penn
Length: 5 hrs and 3 mins
4.1 out of 5 stars (903 ratings)

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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.

Critic Reviews

  • 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)

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What listeners say about Chronicles

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

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

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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).

6 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Abridged??!!! Why????

Did not realize this was abridged, but it soon became clear. It is choppy and makes no sense. Penn may be a great actor, but he it a terrible reader—felt ripped off in every way and a real disservice to Dylan. Can’t believe he allows it.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

If only it weren't abridged

I've been a fan of Dylan for years, and looked forward to this book to learn more about him.

I did get a feeling of his early life in NY. Felt the frustration when he wanted to simply enjoy his family, while critics and crowds pushed him to lead the charge and bring songs of their generation/ Then touring with Tom Petty/Dead, and the recording in New Orlenas. The narration then goes back to Minneapolis, then NY and his first contract with Columbia.

I felt the book made huge, disjointed leaps from one point to another, which may be because it was abridged. I was so excited about the title, that I did not notice this, or I would not have bought it.

Penn does a great job of narration. I'm just disappointed I didn't get the whole story.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Abridged, dang it!

I missed seeing that this was abridged. Would've passed on it if I'd have seen that. Of course it's good, real good, it's Penn reading Dylan's words, how could it not be? But it was confounding and now I know why: it's abridged! I will never buy an abridged book again.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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?.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Will Bale
  • 05-14-18

One of my favourite artists. Great read / listen

Enjoyed throughout. Not a dull moment. Surprised not longer but less is usually if not always more. Will there be a volume II? Doesn't matter. still searching for Traveling Wilburys volume II after all these years :-)

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • kirsty
  • 07-30-17

awesome book

loved it.
interesting. Well narrated. I learned loads as Bob Dylan was before my time.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Seayeaitch
  • 04-16-15

Puts Dylan into perspective

This is like having the man in your company a great listen bring on the next volume .the real deal.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • 06-22-18

Very in depth

Very in depth view into his mysterious life, The different party of his life is cleverly separated and contrasted. The film clearly copied this theme for the movie.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • DF
  • 07-30-20

Boring

Narration was a bit monotone. I wanted to know more about Bob Dylan himself but this was more about everyone else around him at that time. It’s well written and has value as a book to understand the influences that shaped him but I couldn’t engage with the narrator or the style enough to carry on listening.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • DM
  • 05-18-20

A peek into Dylan's mind

I thought this was an enjoyable listen, brilliantly read by Sean Penn who seems to capture Dylan's drawl; simultaneously laid-back and a little intense. The bits of the book included here are very interesting in what they reveal about how Dylan thinks about creativity, what he perceives as his own successes and failures, and evocative of 60s New York and 80s New Orleans. Of course, it's abridged, which is a shame - wish they'd done the whole thing. But this is worth a listen even for non Dylan fans.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • wigwamclan
  • 07-18-19

Alert! abridged version.

Wasn't made aware this was the abridged version before I purchased it so this was very annoying as had I known I'd have read the book. 🤬

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Wong
  • 09-11-17

Surprisingly helpful

I did not know what I was going to expect when I purchased it. If you're a fellow songwriter then this is a book for you to check out. The inspirations Dylan experienced helped make him wonder what he could achieve with his own sound and identity. It's not really a book that talks about his whole life, feels like he wanted to express more how he developed during that early period in his life. He's been pretty adamant that he's not a folk singer and I agree. The number of genres during that time was not as developed as it is now and drawing in the knowledge he could get was important. The identity of his country with his own sound feels to be part of his goals . Hope that helps with no spoilers!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John Warwick
  • 12-14-16

Really Enjoyable

Would you listen to Chronicles again? Why?

yes,there a lot of good information and references,about bob's life and work.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

the whole book,there different part of his life,just more detail.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

made me think about different musical influences,and his emotional time in New York

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael Hagan
  • 03-10-20

Just wonderful

Great insight, great words, great delivery. A classic in every sense. Cannot recommend highly enough.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-12-20

Interesting

Not bad, interesting read, but nothing extremely profound about it. Although I have never been a fan of Bob Dylan beyond a general interest in popular culture.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-30-18

A rollicking story, brilliantly presented.

A rollicking story, like listening to one of Bob's songs, perfectly narrated by Sean Penn. loved it.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Russell Dowsett
  • 05-13-16

bob can write

enjoyable stream of consciousness sean Penn is an evokative narrator def worth a listen look for vol 2