Monday, February 20, 2006

Bad habit hopefully cured, starts with Dylan

I have picked up a bad habit recently; not really finishing books I started reading. But now I have been doing something about the little pile next to my bed and the other night I finished Bob Dylan’s Chronicles. Volume One. I really liked the book, the way the stories are told are fantastic, and even if you are only vaguely familiar with Dylan’s life, you will for sure enjoy reading about it in his own words.

One of the best parts of the book tells us how “Oh Mercy” was recorded. Short version: Bono comes to Dylan’s house, they drink Guinness, Dylan says he has some songs lying around, Bono calls master producer Daniel Lanois, Lanois rents a fantastic house in New Orleans, Dylan and musicians arrive, recording is not great, Dylan takes a ride on motorbike with wife, meets strange Chinese guy, finds inspiration, records one of the absolute best records of the last 20 years. End of chapter.

The book also has a few party political reflections (i.e. not only vague references to the radical years in the 1960s). One example is that Dylan thought, somewhat surprisingly, that Barry Goldwater was quite ok. But my favorite part is the following:

The upper Midwest was an extremely volatile, politically active area – with the Farmer Labor party, Social Democrats, socialists, communists. They were hard crowds to please and not too much for Republicanism. John Kennedy, before he became president, when he was still a senator, had come up to Hibbing on the campaign trail but that was about six months after I left. My mother said that eighteen thousand people had turned out to see him […] If I had been a voting man, I would have voted for Kennedy just for coming there. I wished I could have seen him.” [p. 231]

I would recommend the book to anyone with more than only a slight fondness for Dylan; the language is flowing, the stories great, and the musical references everywhere. And read it in English, at least the translation to Swedish is supposed to be crap.


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