Saturday, 10 December 2011

Odds and sods -- April '07

I've put a ton of items in my "for website" folder over the last month or so, but I haven't been moved to write about hardly any of them for some reason, especially The Big Important Issues in the news. So here's some blathering over a few exceedingly unimportant things:

The book, it ain't worth a-rea-eadin': I recently read Bob Dylan's Chronicles, Vol. 1, and it wasn't bad, but it also it wasn't very good either, and nowhere near what I expected from the lavish praise given it by critics (the paperback edition I read starts with twelve and a half pages of ecstatic blurbs from reviewers). As most reviewers noted, this isn't a comprehensive memoir; Dylan instead covers four vignettes, or perhaps a better word would be acts (in the sense of acts of a stage play) in his career, two of them before he was a star and two from later in his career, and he doesn't cover them in chronological order. I'm fine with that approach conceptually; the trouble is that the two vignettes from later in his career are real "who cares" territory (the longest section of the book deals with the recording of his 1989 album No Mercy -- can you name a single song from that album? me neither), and not much insight can be gained from the other two sections, in my view. Certainly he doesn't answer those obvious questions about his career that everyone asks (like, "when are the Traveling Wilburys getting back together?" and "So what's with all those adverbial / adjectival song titles in the 60s, like 'Queen Jane Approximately,' 'Absolutely Sweet Marie,' 'Obviously Five Believers,' 'Temporary Like Achilles,' 'Positively 4th Street'?" and "What kind of song can a tambourine man play, anyway? You are aware it's a percussion instrument, right?"). What it lacked in a coherent narrative, it also lacked in memorable anecdotes. Not recommended.

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