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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Monday, April 05, 2010


This isn’t exactly up-to-the-minute, but after I bought Dylan’s Chronicles Volume One, I recognised that for my own research purposes I needed to compile an index to the book. Of course the book should have come with an index in the first place: any (supposedly) non-fiction book shortchanges the reader if it doesn’t provide one.

In the case of Chronicles Volume One, I also remember seeing that someone was selling an index way back in October 2006 at the John Green Memorial Day in Northampton - but by then I’d already constructed my own. It’s been in the bowels of my computer ever since, but I rediscovered it a few days ago.

It runs to 31 pages, and contains 1,384 entries: in total 6,517 words and page-numbers. It applies to all US and UK editions, and presumably to any other English-language editions.

If anyone would like to buy a copy as a PDF file, send me a Comment giving me your e-mail address; I will then e-mail you a PayPal invoice, and as soon as you’ve paid I’ll e-mail you the index. You don’t have to have a PayPal account to use this system: you can very easily use any normal credit card. Your Comments will not be published and your contact details will remain confidential.

I’m charging £6, which is as much to cover the admin time as anything.

Many thanks.


Blogger joe butler said...

hi michael

Is it possible that the omission of an index was intentional? Given dylan’s autodidactic anti academe personna, it maybe that he didn’t want an index. The construction of Chronicles seems to have a strange flow which defies orthodoxy, a bit like his segues on the theme time radio show.

I bought a CD of the show which had the theme of “friendship” and unlike a conventional music cd you cant select tracks although you can fast forward, it seems to have been designed so that the listener will listen all the way through as if it were live radio.

Hope this thought doesn’t put off anybody buying the index, which must have been quite a task.

10:36 pm  
Blogger mick said...

I'd be happy to buy a copy of the index. I'm always searching for a gem in that book. Thanks Michael.

8:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sticking my neck out.
I'm still finding things ofn interest in the Far East shows.
What do you think.
I very honestly found this one inspired, just one of those moments.
Made me think he really felt it.
Pat Ford

8:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although it's unlikely Michael really wants to revisit "Houston" lend an ear, and tell me what do you think? This version (Tokyo) is far superior to the album cut isn't it?
Pat Ford

3:20 am  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

I agree with you - I do think Dylan vetoed an index for exactly the reasons you outline; but of course that doesn't mean it isn't very useful to have one when you're wondering where to find some particular bit you want to read again, or quote accurately, or whatever.

Thanks. If you want a copy of the index, you have to send me another Comment, telling me your e-mail address. I won't publish it but it will allow me to e-mail you an invoice and then to e-mail you your index.

Pat - I'll come back to you on these when I've had time to listen to them. It may be a day or two yet.

10:18 am  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

OK Pat, I've listened to them now and this is what I feel:

Unlike you, I don't believe this 'Workingman's Blues #2' at all: it wakes up a bit, and for a bit, around three minutes 30 seconds in, but even that best bit is undercut by the awful upward rasp at the end of each line, which is just a transparently lazy way of faking meaning or feeling. The old upsinging was bad enough, but at least it was singing. This threatens us with the worse prospect of uprasping.

On the other hand 'Houston', though as always suffering from the numbing banality of that remorseless two-note riff, is, as you suggest, much better than the album version - and I'd suggest that that's because at least until the first instrumental break (after which he tends to speak it) he really does sing, and mostly with a fragile, aching tenderness (and minimal rasping). It's lovely to hear this after what seems an age of his not remembering that he can do it.

Of course you could say it's a pity he chooses to bestow this beautiful delivery upon a lyric that is no frame at all on which to hang beauty of any sort. Or you could say that part of his greatness lies in being able to give heartfelt performances in the artificial setting of a public stage and necessarily at times on undeserving material.

Either way he's engaged here, and there's at least a sketch of vintage Bob in the atmosphere and spirit of the performance. If you'd been in the hall, it must have been terrific.

12:07 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

PS. There's also a rather splendid 'Most Likely' from the same night (March 24), with that very dexterous recurrent quick alternation between harmonica and voice, here:

But while we're discussing these Japanese performances again, I should add that a friend has e-mailed with this advice:

download and listen to this very fine 2-disc compilation - -

of keyboard free songs. There are, he says, some - at least to my ears - really great performances in exquisite quality. And it's much better than listening to youtube!

NB: if you - like me - do not have a premium account with rapidshare you might have to wait a few hours or even a day/re-start of the computer before rapidshare lets you download the second file.

12:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Michael,
I have listened to performance of 'Most likely' you enjoyed.
I like the band and the singing is ok too, but the harmonica playing grates on me. As a harmonica player myself I do like his primitive, natural approach which has created/brought forth magical, moving runs(His playing on the electric half of 1966 concerts and on Blood on the Tracks comes to my mind). However, it seems to me that his harp playing has gone the way of much of his singing-emotionally unengaged,so all that is left to my ears is a disconnected harsh unpleasant sound. Jack

1:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Have been wondering about the list of books that Dylan claims in Chronicles were in Ray Gooch's flat in New York.

Some of them clearly do not exist - i.e. Tacitus' letters to Brutus (prob. may be a reference to Cicero's letters). Pericles also dod not write any books although Thucydides did invent a sppech of his on the ideal democracy.

Is some of this a put-on/

12:50 am  

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