Chronicles by Bob Dylan
“This ain’t no protest song,” a very young aspiring poet said to an audience at a New York City nightclub specializing in folk music circa 1961, “’cause I don’t write no protest songs.”
Protest songs were all the rage then, and Robert Zimmerman, already billing himself as Bob Dylan, did not like to be thought fashionable. Born in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, he had come to New York with a strong sense that the popular-music scene was “wide open.” He was right about that, and his own songs, which in fact often decried social injustice, caught the attention of John Hammond, Columbia Records’ legendary talent scout. Significantly enough, it is this event that frames Dylan’s recent memoir, Chronicles, an account of his career until the end of the 1980’s. (The book’s subtitle, “Volume One,” suggests that there may be further installments.)
About the Author
Roger Kaplan has written widely on French politics and on Algeria’s Islamist insurgency of the 1990’s.