Friday, January 21, 2011

This Week's Big Dylan News

When you're 69 going on 70, one has to start considering what one will do as those twilight years come into view. Bob Dylan, who has made a career of being on the road, appears to be headed for a slower pace of life in the near future, having just signed a multi-million dollar six-book deal with Simon & Schuster, the publisher of his first autobiographical record Chronicles: Volume One.

It had to be assumed there would be a volume two, but according to the press announcements this week, Dylan fans can look forward to both a Volume Two and a Volume Three. My guess is that the territory to be covered has already been mapped out in his mind.

The article, Bob Dylan signs six-book deal with Simon & Schuster by Charmaine Kerridge begins thus: Legendary singer Bob Dylan has signed a deal with powerhouse publishing company Simon & Schuster to write six books, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Dylan will write two autobiographical books as a follow up to his 2004 memoir Chronicles: Volume One as well as a book which will look at Dylan’s time at Theme Time Radio Hour, which he hosts on Sirius XM.

Frankly I've been looking forward to the sequel, having read Volume one twice. Being an unashamed Dylan fan, I had more than one co-worker approach me to borrow my copy, since it seemed almost certain I would have one to loan. Simon & Schuster no doubt ponied up the dough with the conviction that fans like me will open their wallets when the sequels flow. No question there will be a few more Dylan books on my shelf when all is said and done, as long as they don't all come out at once. Books and CDs are a great way to use Christmas and Birthday money.

Not everyone enjoys his music, however, and I've received my share of barbs from a few friends over the years.

In the same way, not everyone is enamored of the idea of six more Dylan volumes. Some still remember the incomprehensible Tarantula. (Dylan's answer to Finnegan's Wake?)

Ed Cumming, a critic for The Telegraph, titled his opinions about the Simon & Schuster announcement, Spare us the insufferable onslaught of Bob Dylan academia. You can catch the flavor of Cumming's commentary with this sentence... "While I’m grateful for anything that keeps the 69-year-old from his increasingly doddery stage performances, and I’ll be pleased to get his context for Blonde on Blonde, it seems an awful lot to ask of a man in the twilight of his talent."

I'm not sure he's got it right, though, that six books is a lot to ask. My father-in-law approached me at age 79 and said, "Eddie, can you take me to the store tonight to buy a computer. I'm ready to write my book." The end result, And There Shall Be Wars, was a rich historical memoir more that 535 pages in length.

I think when Dylan finishes his half dozen books he might take a shine to making a second career of it... when he's not out in the studio painting.

Top right: Dylan III by ed newman, 2010

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