Chronicles, Volume One

By Bob Dylan

(Simon And Schuster, 2004)

The release of enigmatic folk and rock icon Bob Dylan’s first memoir was a major cultural event back in fall 2004. And perhaps not surprisingly given his gift for words and story-telling, Chronicles Volume One was immediately bestowed with near universal critical acclaim.

In the book, Dylan takes the reader right back to the early 1960s, when he first arrived in New York from Minnesota and attempted to launch his folk-singer career from the cafes and bars of Manhattan. The book then jumps from that early obscurity to the years surrounding the recordings of New Morning and Oh, Mercy.

Dylan’s story is told in the most lucid of prose – a highly personal view of a notoriously private individual that details everything from his thoughts on his “spokesman of a generation” tag to his intimate relationship with Suze Rotolo and the first time he heard Robert Johnson’s music.

For his contribution to the written word through his songs and this book, Dylan landed the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016.

 

Girl In A Band

By Kim Gordon

(HarperCollins, 2015)

Released just a few years after the disintegration of her long marriage to Thurston Moore and subsequent breakup of the seminal no-wave band Sonic Youth which she co-founded with him, Kim Gordon’s Girl In A Band is a fascinatingly candid memoir and intriguing snapshot of a landmark era in independent American rock from someone was right in the centre of it all.

Gordon recounts her nomadic childhood spent in California, Hawaii, and Hong Kong and the difficulty of growing up with a schizophrenic brother, before recounting her near-moneyless move to New York and subsequent immersion in the city’s thriving music and arts scene.

Throughout the book Gordon takes aim at a number of notable personalities, ranging from ex-husband Moore, Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, Courtney Love and sultry songstress Lana Del Rey. There are also fascinating tidbits on how Sonic Youth almost changed their name, how a car accident inadvertently helped her survive and the surprise inventor of twerking (hint: it’s not Miley Cyrus).

A fascinating account of a bygone era and a groundbreaking band, and as close as we’re every likely to get to this prominent yet enigmatic indie rock figure.