Dylan fans, say it with me: It’s about time.
The title Chronicles: Volume One always left Dylan fans like me assuming that a volume two, three, four, five…any multitudes of documentation of the elusive songwriter’s life might soon follow. Soon certainly didn’t turn out to be that soon. But who can be angry when the promise of more insights and strange tales from one of the most influential musicians still living today looms on the horizon?
And there are many tales left to be told. Dylan’s Chronicles: Volume One was a non-linear documentation of different periods of his life, focusing mostly on his early days as a folk singer, his first contact with record companies, and the recording session for Oh Mercy (released 1989) years after success had gone sour for the privacy-seeking icon. All the assumed highlights of Dylan’s life were left on the side of the road, and Bob Dylan cut his path through as he saw fit, with the usual confidence and defiance the singer has come to embody.
But perhaps Dylan’s next volumes will return anxious readers to the height of his popularity…or not. In a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone, Dylan hinted at what Chronicles: Volume Two might contain:
“I think I can go back to the Blonde on Blonde album — that’s probably about as far back as I can go on the next book. Then I’ll probably go forward. I thought of an interesting time. I made this record, Under the Red Sky, with Don Was, but at the same time I was also doing the [second] Wilburys record…”
Blonde on Blonde was released in 1966 and includes such classic Dylan tracks as “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again,” “Visions of Johanna,” and “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.” But Under the Red Sky was released in 1990, so it seems the focus may once again be on Dylan’s later years.
While it’s disappointing to know that the songwriter isn’t going to explain his mentality in the 1960s (when he famously gave outrageous interviews, was labeled a “prophet” and a “savior,” and made the switch from folk hero to rock and roll star), Dylan has already been subjected to more than his share of forced artistic dissection and media pressure to be what people want him to be. It goes without saying that we all know what we want to hear from Dylan (even if each of us has a different desire), but it should also go without saying that our desires won’t dictate his behavior. Dylan sets his own priorities.
No matter what periods of his life Dylan chooses to cover in his new autobiography, the songwriter’s descriptive ease and rambling folk song-like prose will surely set any moment to blaze. Chronicles: Volume Two and Volume Three are bound to be as well-written as Dylan’s first book, and to flow with the grace and patience of his best lyrics.
Dylan’s book deal includes a contract for four other books (six in total). One of the four will be based on dialogue from his Sirius/XM radio show, Theme Time Radio Hour. The subject of the other three books remains a mystery.Tags: autobiography, Blonde on Blonde, Bob Dylan, book deal, Chronicles, Chronicles: Volume One, Chronicles: Volume Three, Chronicles: Volume Two, Don Was, Oh Mercy, Rainy Day Women, Rolling Stone, Sirius/XM, Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again, Theme Time Radio Hour, Under the Red Sky, Visions of Johanna, Wilburys