You know that man on the stairs of the local town hall? The one bellowing Mr Tambourine Man at the top of his lungs with rag doll in hand and wearing a lilac jumper, pungent with the aroma of week-old sandwich? Most of us would call him a beggar, a tramp, a hobo; Bob Dylan would say that he had just stepped out of a folk ballad. He would tell us that he knew that this man had a story, a history and possessed bravery. And we all know that bravery is what makes a folk hero. In Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan guides us through the rumble tumble world that is his New York. It is a place that is teetering on the brink of reinvention, only to be held back by the dark confusing days of the 1950s.
It’s not a really nice place, but I found myself wandering in and revelling in it. The way that Dylan leads us, prods us, lures us into this mean crazy world is through the pentamater of his tone and the timbre of his voice. He writes his books like he writes his songs; he is only concerned by the beat of the story and how he is going to tell it to the world.
Factually, this story is not complete, but it becomes irrelevant when you consider why we are there; like how Woodie Guthrie drew Robert Allen Zimmerman from the backwaters of Minnesota to the bright lights of New York, we are drawn to Chronicles by Bob Dylan. We are there to find out who he is, what makes him tick and the journey he took to discover it.
He gives us that.
It doesn’t always make sense, but who cares – it’s his life, it’s his story and it’s a whacking good read.