The Killers / A Question about Valentine's Day / Chronicles, Volume One by Bob Dylan


DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

Grammy-nominated music from the group called the Killers ...

A question about the upcoming Valentine's Day holiday ...

And a look at a new book by a popular American musician.

Bob Dylan's "Chronicles, Volume One"


Bob Dylan is one of the America's greatest songwriters. Now he has written a book about his life that critics have praised. Shep O'Neal tells us about it.

SHEP O'NEAL: Bob Dylan's book, "Chronicles: Volume One," was published in October. It has been among the best-selling books in America. The New York Times newspaper named it one of the five best non-fiction, or true life, books of two thousand four. And recently, the National Book Critics Circle named it one of the five finalists for best biography or autobiography of last year.

Bob Dylan grew up in the small town of Hibbing, Minnesota. As a young man, in nineteen sixty-one, he moved to New York City with his guitar. He wanted to become a folk singer and musician. In his book, he writes about his experiences playing and singing other people's songs in clubs in the Greenwich Village area. He writes about the many artists, writers and musicians who influenced him.

His main influence was the great folk singer Woody Guthrie. Guthrie was living in a hospital in New Jersey because he had a serious disease. Dylan visited him often and played Guthrie's songs to him.Later, Dylan became extremely famous for the songs he wrote. The media called him the "voice of a generation." But he rejected this fame. He writes: "All I'd ever done was sing songs that were dead straight and expressed powerful new realities. I had very little in common with, and knew even less about, a generation that I was supposed to be the voice of."

Bob Dylan writes that his wife and five children were the most important part of his life. He describes trying to find privacy for his family at his home in Woodstock, a town in New York State. But people from all over the country came to visit him and destroyed his peace.

Dylan also writes about spending time in New Orleans, Louisiana, while recording the album "Oh Mercy" in nineteen eighty-nine. He writes about the process of recording the album. And he writes about the interesting people he met in Louisiana. One was a store owner named Sun Pie, who gave Dylan a sign for his car that says "World's Greatest Grandpa."

Critics have compared Bob Dylan's book "Chronicles" to one of his songs. They say it brings to life images, faces and places. They say the book forms layers of meaning through rich details. "A song is like a dream," Dylan writes, "and you try to make it come true."

Valentine's Day

DOUG JOHNSON: Our VOA listener question this week comes from Iran. Nima Foroud asks about the holiday called Valentine's Day. Americans celebrate Valentine's Day each year on February fourteenth. It is a holiday for lovers.

Valentine's Day is a good day for a man to ask his girlfriend to marry him. It is also a good day for couples to get married. Other couples might go out for a special meal at a nice restaurant.

The holiday is named for Saint Valentine. He was an early Christian churchman who reportedly helped young lovers. Valentine was executed for his Christian beliefs on February fourteenth, more than one thousand seven hundred years ago. But the day that has his name is even older than that.

The ancient Romans celebrated a holiday for lovers more than two thousand years ago. As part of the celebration, each girl wrote her name on a piece of paper and put it in a large container. Each boy reached into the container and pulled out the name of a girl. That girl became his girlfriend for a year.

Lovers still put their names on pieces of paper on Valentine's Day. They send each other cards that express their love. Sometimes they send other gifts, too, like jewelry… or flowers… or candy…or all three!

Americans usually send cards through the mail system or in a computer message. But there is another way many Americans send messages of love on Valentine's Day. They pay to have them printed in a newspaper.

Some of these messages are simple and short: "Susan, I love you very much. From John." Others say more, like this example: "David, roses are red, violets are blue, I hope you love me as much as I love you. Forever, Mary."

There is only one problem in sending a Valentine's Day message this way. It will only reach the one you love if he or she reads the newspaper that day!

The Killers

Have you heard of the American rock group called the Killers? The group was popular in Britain before becoming well known in the United States. Now the group has been nominated for three Grammy awards. Faith Lapidus has more.

FAITH LAPIDUS: The four members of the Killers are Brandon Flowers, David Keuning, Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vanucci. They met a few years ago in their hometown, Las Vegas, Nevada. The first song that Flowers and Keuning wrote together is called "Mister Brightside." Keuning says it is still the only song the group plays every time it performs. Let's listen:


"Mister Brightside" is one of eleven songs on the Killers' first album, "Hot Fuss." The album has been nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Album. Another popular song from the album is about a girl who is killed by her boyfriend. It is called "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine."


One song on "Hot Fuss" is nominated for two Grammys -- Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group, and Best Rock Song. It was also the first hit single from the album. We leave you now with the Killers singing that song, "Somebody Told Me."


DOUG JOHNSON: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program this week.

This show was written by Shelley Gollust and Nancy. Paul Thompson was the producer. Our engineer was Efeem Drucker.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.