Archive for the ‘Biographies’ Category

Chronicles Vol. 1 an Autobiography of Bob Dylan

December 31, 2017 Comments off

DylanChronicles Vol. 1 an Autobiography of Bob Dylan. Pub. Pocket Books, 2004.

Bob Dylan has always been one of my musical heroes and when given this title for Xmas by my son I read it avidly finishing in one day. I was searching for something about the man that would unlock all the secrets and speculation about him and the songs that he wrote. It doesn’t do this but it does present an artistic mind and how it works and it outlines the influences that made Dylan the genius that he is.

When asked early in his career by the poet Archibald McLeish who his boyhood heroes were Dylan answered Robin Hood and St George the dragonslayer. Figure that out.

Dylan never saw himself as a mouthpiece or conscience of a generation which the press and others were determined to tag him with. All he did he says was to sing songs that were dead straight and expressed powerful realities.

A remarkable quality of Dylan that comes out is his dedication as a father and family man. He did everything to keep them out of the vagaries of his life as he struggled with the complexities of fame. When the Kennedys, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were shot he didn’t see them as leaders rather as fathers whose families had been left wounded.

While he does talk of the influences of Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Jack Kerouac and others in  his life as a young artist working in 60,s New York the best titbit he gives about himself is this  “be true to yourself because that is what I am all about”.

Not the autobiography I wanted but hell it is compelling reading.

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No One Here Gets out Alive by Jerry Hopkins & Danny Sugerman

December 31, 2016 Comments off

jim-morrisonNo One Here Gets out Alive by Jerry Hopkins & Danny Sugerman. Pub. Plexus Publishing, 1980.

A journalist once wrote “the Beatles and the Stones are for blowing your mind: the Doors are for afterwards, when your mind is already gone“. This biography comes under the same category.

I loved the Doors music and the image of Jim Morrison as it was revealed to us then, but I really didn’t know the truth about him and I guess most of it has gone to the grave. I visited his grave at the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris in 2004. It was hard to find and a bit of a let down, but I hummed Riders on the Storm to myself and wondered.

This book pulls no punches and much if it is based on anecdotal stories from his friends, his women and from his younger brother. Surprisingly nothing from Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger or John Densmore his fellow Doors.

The story however is gripping and riveting and is told in three parts with image of a bow being draw, the arrow flying and dropping to the ground. A full discology of the Doors songs, when they were played, how they were recorded and Morrison’s behaviour throughout.

All the major events at concerts including his arrest for lewd behaviour are recounted and the drugs and booze extravagances that Morrison put himself through. The best part for me is the analysis of the songs that evolved from his poetry and the extraordinary imagery  that Morrison gave to his writing. The title is a line from the anti war song Unknown Soldier. Morrison wanted to be taken seriously but his destructive behaviour prevented him being bigger and better than he was.

In the end Jim Morrison was a poet but lived a rock star life. It destroyed him. Read for yourself. He was the third member of the 27 club after Hendrix and Joplin. He knew them both.His death was controversial but if anybody could have faked it, it was Jim Morrison.