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Last Updated: Monday, 4 October, 2004, 08:16 GMT 09:16 UK
Fans await another side of Dylan
By Chris Heard
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Bob Dylan, 1962
Dylan has written about the beginnings of his stardom
Bob Dylan fans are relishing publication on Tuesday of the first part of the singer's memoirs looking back to his 1960s heyday.

Chronicles focuses on the years when Dylan emerged as a young protest singer and went on to become the icon of the peace-and-love generation.

It also covers the turning point when, at the height of his worldwide acclaim, he was hurt in a motorcycle accident and then shunned the limelight to start a family in rural seclusion.

The book is keenly anticipated by fans because it marks the ageing Dylan's first detailed written assessment of his own mythical life and career.

One of rock's most reticent figures, he has been the subject of many biographies and academic studies but has until now declined to give his own account of his rise from Midwest obscurity to global superstardom.

Born Robert Allen Zimmerman on 24 May 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota
Became the toast of New York's early 1960s folk-protest movement
Returned from family seclusion with a string of critically-acclaimed albums in the mid-1970s

It is hoped Dylan's writings will shed an authoritative new light on legendary episodes such as the 1965 Newport Folk Festival at which he was roundly jeered for playing an electric rock set.

It will be interesting to see whether he will comment on the reputation he gained at the start of his career for fabricating details of his early years.

Arriving in New York in 1961, the middle-class Jewish store owner's son from Duluth, Minnesota, told his new associates stories that he had grown up with the circus, or been orphaned.

Bob Dylan, 2004
Now aged 63, his memoirs have been long awaited

So-called Dylanologists remain sceptical about whether the complete truth will finally emerge in Chronicles, which is being published in three volumes.

Derek Barker, editor of the Dylan fan magazine Isis, said: "There are no gems that make me think he's going to tell us something new.

"We would like to hear the full story from the man's lips (but) he's going to tell us what he wants to tell us."

After a patchy spell throughout the 1980s and 90s, he has emerged triumphant with some of his most well-received work
Aged 63, he has recorded more than 40 albums and is still involved in his "never ending tour"
Mr Barker said: "I think he's doing it for his own benefit. He's trying to debunk the myth that's built up around Bob Dylan over the years, although I don't think he will.

"It's a very unusual project for him to do. He's an extremely secretive person. Those who know Bob Dylan will be a little bit suspicious. I don't think it's going to be a completely heartfelt "tell-all" autobiography.

"He has bent the truth right back from the beginning, and what is truth and what is myth has been blurred - even in his own mind - with the passing of time."

In a rare interview to promote the book, Dylan told the Sunday Telegraph he had never wanted to be spokesman for a generation.

Bob Dylan, 1965
Fans are hoping Dylan will reveal undocumented details about his past
"Not only did I not want it, but I didn't need it," he told the paper. "I couldn't understand it either.

"None of us like to be defined by what other people think of us. I wasn't the toastmaster of any generation and that notion had to be pulled up by the roots."

He also told how his live act in the 1980s had deteriorated to the point where "in reality I was just above a club act... the whisky had gone out of the bottle".

Giles Elliott, chart manager at The Bookseller trade magazine, said the Dylan book was expected to easily breach the 3,000 sales barrier - qualifying it as a success in hardback terms. Last year's biggest music seller, the Eminem anthology Whatever You Say I Am, sold nearly 67,000.

Duncan Thomson, books editor at Amazon.co.uk, said there was significant interest in Dylan's recollections, and the book was high in its pre-orders chart.

Bob Dylan
The singer is one of rock music's most private individuals
"Bob Dylan has been notoriously shy over the years about giving interviews and revealing too much of himself and his life to the public.

"His fans are queuing up to hear what the great man has to say about his life, his career and the inspiration for his songs."

Sean Penn is narrating an audio book version, while a separate book containing Dylan lyrics from 1961 to 2001 is also due out on Tuesday.

In May next year the BBC will air an Arena documentary in which the singer talks to movie director Martin Scorsese in his first filmed interview for nearly 20 years.

Dylan's still blowin' in the wind
25 Aug 04 |  Entertainment
Dylan receives honorary degree
23 Jun 04 |  Scotland
Dylan 'reveals origin of anthem'
11 Apr 04 |  Entertainment


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