Sunday, September 26, 2004


NEW YORK — Bob Dylan reveals in his long-awaited memoir that contrary to his renowned image as an icon of 1960s counterculture, he was an unwilling rebel who dreamt of a simple nine-to-five existence.

Although a generation of hippies and counterculture rebels gyrated to Mr. Dylan’s voice and music, the man behind the lyrics reveals that he felt a prisoner in his own home, where he packed a Colt pistol and Winchester rifle in fear of “rogue radicals,” according to excerpts from his memoir.

The excerpts are published in the Newsweek magazine edition that hits newsstands today, and are accompanied by a rare interview with the singer at an unidentified Midwest motel room.

The 63-year-old appears on the cover of the weekly magazine wearing a pearl-colored cowboy hat and sporting a pencil-thin moustache.

The excerpts are likely to surprise, if not shock, many Dylan loyalists.

“The world was absurd. … I had very little in common with and knew even less about a generation that I was supposed to be the voice of,” Mr. Dylan says.

“I was fantasizing about a nine-to-five existence, a house on a tree-lined block with a white picket fence, pink roses in the back yard.

“Road maps to our homestead must have been posted in all 50 states for gangs of dropouts and druggies.

“I wanted to set fire to these people,” Mr. Dylan recollects, saying the hordes of fans who turned up at his family home in Woodstock, N.Y., and walked over his roof or tried to break in drove him and his family to seek refuge in New York City.

“We moved to New York for a while in hopes to demolish my identity, but it wasn’t any better there. It was even worse. The neighbors hated us,” Mr. Dylan recalls.

Mr. Dylan says he felt like a mannequin in a shop window as the ‘60s roared past.

He says his family was the most important part of his life and that “even the horrifying news items of the day, the gunning down of the Kennedys, King, Malcolm X … I didn’t see them as leaders being shot down, but rather as fathers whose families had been left wounded.”

He blamed his anointment as “the Big Bubba of Rebellion, High Priest of Protest, the Czar of Dissent” largely on the press, which labeled him the spokesman for a generation.

“The big bugs in the press kept promoting me as the mouthpiece, spokesman, or even conscience of a generation. I felt like a piece of meat that someone had thrown to the dogs,” he says.

He acknowledges that his lyrics “struck nerves that had never been struck before,” but says he disliked the way his songs’ “meanings [were] subverted into polemics.”

As time passed and the ‘60s gave way to the 1970s and then the 1980s, he found happiness and inner peace, Mr. Dylan said.

“In my real life I got to do the things that I love the best. … Little League games, birthday parties, taking my kids to school, camping trips, boating, rafting, canoeing, fishing … I was living on record royalties.”

Mr. Dylan’s memoir, “Chronicles,” will be released by Simon & Schuster publisher David Rosenthal.

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