marginalia || Chronicles: Volume One, by Bob Dylan

How does one even talk about Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan? And when you say Volume One, shouldn’t there have been a Volume Two a long time ago? Well, Bob, well?

Nick Hornby (in his Housekeeping Vs. The Dirt)  told me to read this book. And since I am a sheep, I picked this up in a BookSale a couple of weeks ago. Besides, it’s Bob Dylan. I like Bob Dylan. I am not a Bob Dylan fan, though; I’m not an expert on Bob Dylan, but I like Bob Dylan. I’m not a fan because I am an absolute loser with all things music, to the horror of many musician friends. And musician poets. And my mother. Because, after all, this is Bob Freaking Dylan, y’all; do I even have a shred of self-respect? Huh. At some point in reading, I was fighting off guilt. Kept asking myself whether I deserved to stumble across this book, whether I should’ve just left it there in the stacks for someone who’d likely shit his pants on the very sight of it.

But I loved the book. It is mine now. Mine.

I love the book so much, it was so disarmingly amazing–that I won’t talk about it. Because I really can’t. I really goddamned can’t. Lots of people before me have talked about this book, and they did it well, and this time, I know I can’t add anything more to all that feedback but a firm OMG WEEEEE! It’s one of those books that needs to be read. Because, hell, even when Hornby told me to read it, I was dubious–what could Dylan tell me? Oh, honey, lots. Lots, and lots, and lots.

That said, well, here are some gems from the book–yes, I really am leaving it up to him:

Sometimes you say things in songs even if there’s a small chance of them being true. And sometimes you say things that have nothing to do with the truth of what you want to say and sometimes you say things that everyone knows to be true. Then again, at the same time, you’re thinking that the only truth on earth is that there is no truth in it.


I guess it happens to you by degrees. You just don’t wake up one day and decide that you need to write songs, especially if you’re a singer who has plenty of them and you’re learning more every day. Opportunities may come along for you to convert something—something that exists into something that didn’t yet. That might be the beginning of it. Sometimes you just want to do things your way, want to see for yourself what lies behind the misty curtain. It’s not like you see songs approaching and invite them in. It’s not that easy. You want to write songs that are bigger than life. You want to say something about strange things that have happened to you and understand something and then go past the vernacular.


If anything, I wanted to understand things and then be free of them. I needed to learn how to telescope things, ideas. Things were too big to see all at once, like all the books in the library—everything laying around on all the tables. You might be able to put it all into one paragraph or into one verse of a song if you could get it right.

PS — The Boyfriend has a fat volume (ooh purdy glossy pages) of Bob Dylan Lyrics: 1962-2001. I’ll be dipping into it now and then, the way I read books of poetry, and some short story collections. It’s about damned time. And–gasp!–I might even listen to him! (And angels wept when I typed that last sentence.)

12 thoughts on “marginalia || Chronicles: Volume One, by Bob Dylan

  1. Okay, because I visit your blog more than I check email: BOB DYLAN IS MANDATORY EAR CANDY! —Best heard loud enough to drown out the noise of the city and you must, absolutely must, listen to him at sunset in a big field with lots of sky and light and air! Then let’s see what happens to your soul. I swear Sasha, you will meet yourself anew and the world will seem much bigger and better. :) You don’t even have to know what the musicians know.

    Go have a listen! Dylan changed my life! :)

  2. Well, frak. I’m going to give you a CD of my favorite songs when I see you in class. What the hale, you must listen to this wise, wise and super attractive man.

  3. @Nash and @Carina — Oh my. Haha. That’s all I can say. Oo na, fine, I will listen to Dylan, haha. Also, you guys must know that this scares me a little. Love what you said, Nash, it compels me, really. As for you Carina, I will look at you expectantly when you sashay into the classroom come Tuesday (ew, long test). You, on the other hand, compelled me with yer expert usage of frak. :]

    You guise are awesomez.

    1. Hey, Ash — I had to Google what you were talking about. Publisher’s Weekly’s review (found on the book’s Amazon page) says, “She offers shallow, almost schoolgirl-like reflections on the man she loved and lived with for three years. In a dull and plodding manner, Rotolo provides no new insights into Dylan, claiming, as have so many, that he is mysterious and enigmatic.”

      Ouch. So, haha, that, and your vehemence, well–not picking this book up in the foreseeable future. :p

  4. I know what you mean about not being able to talk about a book when it’s too good. Hope you listen to Bob Dylan, he’s a life-changer!

    1. Hey, Piper, thanks for getting it, haha. It was just so difficult for me. I mean, how do I talk about Bob Dylan? And yes, will listen to him soon; everyone wants me to! :p

  5. Ha! Boyd or Floyd or whatisname from Simon Mayo’s book panel on BBC5 radio was as enthusiastic as you are. Now I’ve GOT to buy this for Mr Gnoe!

    Btw have you seen the movie I’m Not There? I’m not a Dylan groupy either (I actually dreaded going because I feared I would be bored to death) but it was awesome!!

  6. My first real experience of listening to Bob Dylan was on a two day road trip to Anaheim. It’s not that I hadn’t heard his music before, but that was the first time I had really listened. Of course I didn’t have much choice, our driver had only brought one other cd that wasn’t Dylan, so it was either listen to Dylan or Anni DiFranco. After about twelve hours of Dylan I was ready to switch to Anni DiFranco. :) It’s not that I didn’t like his music, but I think 12 hours of the same songs over and over may have been a bit much.

  7. I just got this book! It’s part of a challenge I’m participating in. I’m like you – I am not actually a fan (but I’m non NOT a fan either) of his music, but I like him. Maybe I just like the idea of him.


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