January 19, 2006
Just finished this. Really, indispensably good. He sort of paints himself as a superhero, but then he was. Was he really that intense about songs he heard, people he met? If so then I am really apathetic. It might be how he sees it through the lens of memory, which is impressive in itself. And I’m not sure if Bono has the "soul of an ancient poet," but I’ve never been to dinner with him. Reads like another On the Road, except this time from the point of view of a songwriter, especially the parts written about his young self. It’s harder to feel a connection when he mourns the loss of his yacht. The man is a real writer. Not a pop-star, not half a poet, a writer. The book is like getting a letter from Bob Dylan. That should recommend it.
The book’s mostly about his appreciation of artists, which can be inspiring, but maybe impossible. Here’s an excerpt: "We went to a Jim Carrey movie that night. Just by moving his hands, the man can explode your soul. Jimmy breathes laughter." Not really an excerpt. He just has such a deep appreciation for all things, it almost seems like an act. When he starts talking about Mickey Rourke being such a great actor, it’s sort of ridiculous: didn’t the man not like anything? Maybe I’m jealous. I’m about 80% cynicism and 20% appreciation. Which is actually a real problem and I need to change it. In Chronicles, he expresses his devout appreciation of so many things, which may be a healthier way to live than being sucked down by all the monstrous crap, but nothing seems to bring him down. Maybe that’s core to what made him such a success, so prolific. This could be immaturity talking, but you’re defined by what you don’t like as much as what you love. Maybe he didn’t want to criticize anyone eternally in print. Sometimes though it feels like half the story: there’s no angst here.
Me, I write about the crap in the world, how it’s falling apart, so I tend to see it all around me. I’ve also been jealous of Kerouac and Henry Miller who embrace life, a lust for all things. I don’t if these are different times or what--we actually are facing extinction. Global warming, insane apocalypsists of every religion, television like a dead blanket over everything (I’m starting to write like him). Though Miller, Kerouac, and Bob Dylan all lived through World War II. They knew fear. Maybe I’m wrong, but 9-11 was a major kick in the balls to the entire American idea like nothing before it. I grew up on punk rock which screams: everything sucks. Everything falls apart. A different kind of formative music than folk that was more about storytelling, an appreciation of people’s stories. One of these days I feel like I’m going to get a good mental slap in the face--maybe by a person that I have yet to meet--who tells me, why are you wallowing in all this unnecessary shit. Maybe I need to smoke some pot.
The book made me think about my own life. His success was so organic. For anyone who’s read this blog over the long haul--maybe 5 people--it would be weird if I got successful now. I’ve spent entry after entry complaining about my lack of success. It would be strange if it happened now--33 years old, after I’ve settled down and had a kid. I still want to sell a lot of books, go on rock tours through America and Europe, but it would be a much different experience than someone 22 years old and coming up. Even if I look years younger than I am.
Empty Drum, a long while back, made a comment that some post I wrote brought out my humanity. I feel I have to live up to it somehow, but to be honest, I hate people. I find people, music, art, mostly disappointing, which is a nice way of putting it. I put myself into the same category of "people." I don’t want to. I’d love to look at life as a great playground. Dylan writes about Robert Johnson: "Neither forlorn or hopeless or shackled--nothing hinders him." It ain’t me. For a person like Bob Dylan, it’s much easier to appreciate the world when the world is appreciating you. I still feel really fucking horribly guilty about what I wrote about my daughter a couple of posts ago--my impatience. It’s true though, so I should get it down. In January 2006, I’ve been going through a bad phase in regards to her which is now lifting. She is radiant. She actually makes people gasp when they see her. Not just her external beauty but her inner light. But I had a kid before I was fully formed as a person and an artist. So I haven’t had the space to work out ideas and it gets to me sometimes. Not getting work is also driving me up the fucking wall.
Not sure what this has to do with Chronicles exactly. Reading about someone’s pure success and love for life brought about some thoughts about how I look at my own life. Not comparing myself to Bob Dylan, but he’s a Jewboy who writes songs and books. There’s no way I couldn’t have gotten something from this book.
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