Chronicles, Vol. 1 Quotes

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Chronicles, Vol. 1 Chronicles, Vol. 1 by Bob Dylan
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Chronicles, Vol. 1 Quotes (showing 1-30 of 38)
“Some people seem to fade away but then when they are truly gone, it's like they didn't fade away at all.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“The first thing you notice about New Orleans are the burying grounds - the cemeteries - and they're a cold proposition, one of the best things there are here. Going by, you try to be as quiet as possible, better to let them sleep. Greek, Roman, sepulchres- palatial mausoleums made to order, phantomesque, signs and symbols of hidden decay - ghosts of women and men who have sinned and who've died and are now living in tombs. The past doesn't pass away so quickly here. You could be dead for a long time.

The ghosts race towards the light, you can almost hear the heavy breathing spirits, all determined to get somewhere. New Orleans, unlike a lot of those places you go back to and that don't have the magic anymore, still has got it. Night can swallow you up, yet none of it touches you. Around any corner, there's a promise of something daring and ideal and things are just getting going. There's something obscenely joyful behind every door, either that or somebody crying with their head in their hands. A lazy rhythm looms in the dreamy air and the atmosphere pulsates with bygone duels, past-life romance, comrades requesting comrades to aid them in some way. You can't see it, but you know it's here. Somebody is always sinking. Everyone seems to be from some very old Southern families. Either that or a foreigner. I like the way it is.

There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better. There's a thousand different angles at any moment. At any time you could run into a ritual honoring some vaguely known queen. Bluebloods, titled persons like crazy drunks, lean weakly against the walls and drag themselves through the gutter. Even they seem to have insights you might want to listen to. No action seems inappropriate here. The city is one very long poem. Gardens full of pansies, pink petunias, opiates. Flower-bedecked shrines, white myrtles, bougainvillea and purple oleander stimulate your senses, make you feel cool and clear inside.

Everything in New Orleans is a good idea. Bijou temple-type cottages and lyric cathedrals side by side. Houses and mansions, structures of wild grace. Italianate, Gothic, Romanesque, Greek Revival standing in a long line in the rain. Roman Catholic art. Sweeping front porches, turrets, cast-iron balconies, colonnades- 30-foot columns, gloriously beautiful- double pitched roofs, all the architecture of the whole wide world and it doesn't move. All that and a town square where public executions took place. In New Orleans you could almost see other dimensions. There's only one day at a time here, then it's tonight and then tomorrow will be today again. Chronic melancholia hanging from the trees. You never get tired of it. After a while you start to feel like a ghost from one of the tombs, like you're in a wax museum below crimson clouds. Spirit empire. Wealthy empire. One of Napoleon's generals, Lallemaud, was said to have come here to check it out, looking for a place for his commander to seek refuge after Waterloo. He scouted around and left, said that here the devil is damned, just like everybody else, only worse. The devil comes here and sighs. New Orleans. Exquisite, old-fashioned. A great place to live vicariously. Nothing makes any difference and you never feel hurt, a great place to really hit on things. Somebody puts something in front of you here and you might as well drink it. Great place to be intimate or do nothing. A place to come and hope you'll get smart - to feed pigeons looking for handouts”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“Even if you don't have all the things you want, be grateful for the things you don't have that you don't want (Bob Dylan's dad)”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“songs, to me, were more important than just light entertainment. They were my preceptor and guide into some altered consciousness of reality. Some different republic, some liberated republic... whatever the case, it wasn't that I was anti-popular culture or anything and I had no ambition to stir things up. I just thought of mainstream culture as lame as hell and a big trick. It was like the unbroken sea of frost that lay outside the window and you had to have awkward footgear to walk with.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“The worth of things can't be measured by what they cost but by what the cost you to get it, that if anything costs you your faith or your family, then the price is too high, and that there are some things that will never wear out.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles: Volume One
“There's only one day at a time here, then it's tonight and then tomorrow will be today again.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“New York was a city where you could be frozen to death in the midst of a busy street and nobody would notice.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The new order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“And it dawned on me that I might have to change my inner thought patterns... that I would have to start believing in possibilities that I wouldn't have allowed before, that I had been closing my creativity down to a very narrow, controllable scale... that things had become too familiar and I might have to disorientate myself. p.71”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“Sometimes you just have to bite your upper lip and put sunglasses on.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“I was lingering out on the pavement. There was a missing person inside of myself and I needed to find him . . . I felt done for, an empty burned-out wreck . . . Wherever I am, I'm a '60s troubadour, a folk-rock relic, a wordsmith from bygone days, a fictitious head of state from a place nobody knows.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“I was always fishing for something on the radio. Just like trains and bells, it was part of the soundtrack of my life. I moved the dial up and down and Roy Orbison's voice came blasting out of the small speakers. His new song, "Running Scared," exploded into the room.
Orbison, though, transcended all the genres - folk, country, rock and roll or just about anything. His stuff mixed all the styles and some that hadn't even been invented yet. He could sound mean and nasty on one line and then sing in a falsetto voice like Frankie Valli in the next. With Roy, you didn't know if you were listening to mariachi or opera. He kept you on your toes. With him, it was all about fat and blood. He sounded like he was singing from an Olympian mountaintop and he meant business. One of his previous songs, "Ooby Dooby" was deceptively simple, but Roy had progressed. He was now singing his compositions in three or four octaves that made you want to drive your car over a cliff. He sang like a professional criminal. Typically, he'd start out in some low, barely audible range, stay there a while and then astonishingly slip into histrionics. His voice could jar a corpse, always leave you muttring to yourself something like, "Man, I don't believe it." His songs had songs within songs. They shifted from major to minor key without any logic. Orbison was deadly serious - no pollywog and no fledgling juvenile. There wasn't anything else on the radio like him.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“I had no songs in my repertoire for commercial radio anyway. Songs about debauched bootleggers, mothers that drowned their own children, Cadillacs that only got five miles to the gallon, floods, union hall fires, darkness and cadavers at the bottom of rivers weren't for radiophiles. There was nothing easygoing about the folk songs I sang. They weren't friendly or ripe with mellowness. They didn't come gently to the shore. I guess you could say they weren't commercial.

Not only that, my style was too erratic and hard to pigeonhole for the radio, and songs, to me, were more important that just light entertainment. They were my preceptor and guide into some altered consciousness of reality, some different republic, some liberated republic. Greil Marcus, the music historian, would some thirty years later call it "the invisible republic."

Whatever the case, it wasn't that I was anti-popular culture or anything and I had no ambitions to stir things up. i just thought of popular culture as lame as hell and a big trick. It was like the unbroken sea of frost that lay outside the window and you had to have awkward footgear to walk on it.

I didn't know what age of history we were in nor what the truth of it was. Nobody bothered with that. If you told the truth, that was all well and good and if you told the un-truth, well, that's still well and good. Folk songs taught me that.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“..my father was the best man in the world and probably worth a hundred of me, but he didn't understand me. The town he lived in and the town I lived in were not the same.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“Truth was the last thing on my mind, and even if there was such a thing, I didn't want it in my house. Oedipus went looking for the truth and when he found it, it ruined him. It was a cruel horror of a joke. So much for the truth. I was gonna talk out of both sides of my mouth and what you heard depended on which side you were standing. If I ever did stumble on any truth, I was gonna sit on it and keep it down.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“I really was never any more than what I was -a folk musician who gazed into the gray mist with tear-blinded eyes and made up songs that floated in a luminous haze.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“It seemed I'd always been chasing after something, anything that moved -a car, a bird, a blowing leaf -anything that might lead me into some more lit place, some unknown land downriver. I had not even the vaguest notion of the broken world I was living in, what society could do with you.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“When Johnson started singing, he seemed like a guy who could have sprung from the head of Zeus in full armor.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“My big fear was that my guitar would go out of tune.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
Wagon Train was on. It seemed to be beaming in from some foreign country. I shut that off, too, and went into another room, a windowless one with a painted door--a dark cavern with a floor-to-ceiling library. I switched on the lamps. The place had an overpowering presence of literature and you couldn't help but lose your passion for dumbness.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“All I'd ever done was sing songs that were dead straight and expressed powerful new realities. I had very little in common with and knew even less about a generation that I was supposed to be the voice of.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“I had just returned to Woodstock from the Midwest - from my father's funeral. The previous week had left me drained. I had gone back to the town of my early years in a way I could never have imagined - to see my father laid to rest. Now there would be no way to say what I was never capable of saying before. Growing up, the cultural and generational differences had been insurmountable - nothing but the sound of voices, colorless unnatural speech. My father, who was plain speaking and straight talking had said, 'Isn't an artist a fellow who paints?' when told by one of my teachers that his son had the nature of an artist. It seemed I'd always been chasing after something that moved - a car, a bird, a blowing leaf - anything that might lead me into some more lit place, some unknown land downriver. I had not the vaguest notion of the broken world I was living in, what society could do with you.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“What was the future? The future was a solid wall, not promising, not threatening - all bunk. No guarantees of anything, not even the guarantee that life isn't one big joke.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“I didn’t have any of these dreams or thoughts, but I was going to acquire them.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“James Joyce seemed like the most arrogant man who ever lived, had both his eyes wide open and great faculty of speech, but what he say, I knew not what.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“Opportunities may come along for you to convert something -something that exists into something that didn't yet. That might be the beginning of it. Sometimes you just want to do things your way, want to see for yourself what lies behind the misty curtain. It's not like you see songs approaching and invite them in. It's not that easy. You want to write songs that are bigger than life. You want to say something about strange things that have happened to you, strange things you have seen. You have to know and understand something and then go past the vernacular.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“The little room was filled with American records and a phonograph. Izzy would let me stay back there and listen to them. I listened to as many as I could, even thumbed through a lot of his antediluvian folk scrolls. The madly complicated modern world was something I took little interest in. It had no relevancy, no weight. I wasn't seduced by it.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“I wasn't going to go deeper into the darkness for anybody. I was already living in the darkness. My family was my light and I was going to protect that light at all cost. That was where my dedication was, first, last and everything in-between. What did I owe the rest of the world? Nothing. Not a damn thing.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
“If I was building any new kind of life to live, it really didn't seem that way. It's not as if I had turned in any old one to live it. If anything, I wanted to understand things and then be free of them. I needed to learn how to telescope things, ideas. Things were too big to see all at once, like all the books in the library -everything laying around on all the tables. You might be able to put it all into one paragraph or into one verse of a song if you could get it right.”
Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1

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