May 1965 Dylan Interview
Bob Dylan's privacy and complexity have been the targets of an all out assault by reporters, photographers, fans and enemies. His reaction to this attempt to reduce him to a known and predictable quantity comprises his public image as you probably know it -- whether from hearsay or reportage (both being equally suspect). This interview is something of a rarity in that it is one of the very few -- if any -- in which Dylan volunteered to talk and with his interviewer in a manner both honest and meaningful. However, the author does not claim to have captured Dylan in it, but only a segment of his shadow on that particular day...
Q: I don't know whether to do a serious interview or carry on that Absurdist way we talked last night.
Dylan: It'll be the same thing anyway, man
Q: Yeah. O.K., if you are a poet and write words arranged in some sort of rhythm, why do you switch at some point and write lyrics in a song so that you're singing the words as part of a Gestalt presence?
Dylan: Well, I can't define that word poetry. I wouldn't even attempt it. At one time I thought that Robert Frost was poetry. Other times, I thought Allen Ginsberg was poetry. Sometimes, I thought Francois Villon was poetry. But poetry isn't really confined to the printed page. Hey, then again, I don't believe in saying, "Look at that girl walking! Isn't that poetry?" I'm not going to get insane about it. The lyrics to the songs? It just so happens that they might be a little stranger than in most songs. I find it easy to write songs. I have been writing songs for a long time and the words to the songs aren't written out just for the paper. They're written so you can read it, you dig? If you take away whatever there is to the song -- the beat, the melody -- I could still recite it. I see nothing wrong with the songs you can't do that with either -- songs that, if you took away the beat and melody, wouldn't stand up. Because they're not suppose to do that, you know. Songs are songs -- I don;'t believe in expecting too much out of any one thing.
Q: Whatever happened to Blind Boy Grunt? (A name Dylan used to record a couple of his first folk sides -- for Broadside Records.)
Dylan: I was doing that four years ago. Now there are a lot of people writing songs on protest subjects. But it's taken some kind of weird step. Hey, I'd rather listen to Jimmy Reed or Howling Wolf, man, or to The Beatles or Francoise Hardy, than I would to any protest song singers -- although I haven't heard all the protest song singers there are. But the ones I've heard -- there's this very emptiness which is like a song written saying, "Let's hold hands and everything will be grand." I see no more to it than that. Just because somebody mentions the word bomb, I'm not going to scream, man, and start clapping.
Q: Is it that they just don't work anymore?
Dylan: It's not that they don't work, it's that there are a lot of people afraid of the Bomb, right? But there are a lot of other people afraid to be seen carrying a Modern Screen magazine down the street, you know. There are a lot of people afraid to admit they like Marlon Brando movies. Hey, it's not that they don't work anymore, but have you ever thought of a place where they do work? What exactly does work?
Q: They give a groovy feeling to the people who sing them. I guess that's about it. But what does work is the attitude not the song. And there's just another attitude called for.
Dylan: Yeah, but you have to be very hip to the fact about the attitude -- you have to be hip to communication. Sure, you can make all sorts of protest songs and put them on Folkways record. But who hears them? The people that do hear them are going to be agreeing with you anyway. You aren't going to get somebody to hear it who doesn't dig. If you can find a cat who can actually say, "Okay! I'm a changed man because I heard this one thing -- or I just saw this one thing..." Hey, it doesn't necessarily happen that way all the time. It happens with a collage of experience in which somebody can actually know by instinct what's right and wrong for him to do -- where he doesn't actually have to feel guilty about anything. A lot of people act out of guilt. They act because they think somebody's looking at them. No matter what it is. There's people who do anything because of guilt...
Q: And you don't want to be guilty?
Dylan: It's that I'm not guilty. I'm not any more guilty than you are. Like, I don't consider any elder generation guilty... I can't make that, but I can't really put it down. Hey, I can't put anything down, because I don't have to be around any of it. I don't have to put people down who I don't like because I don't have to be around any of those people. Of course, there is the giant great contradiction of What Do You Do? Hey, I don't know what you do, but all I can do is cast aside all the things not to do. I don't know where it's at, all I know is where it's not at. And as long as I know that, I don't really have to know, myself, where it's at. Everybody knows where it's at once in a while, but nobody can walk around all the time in a complete Utopia. Dig poetry. You were asking about poetry? Man, poetry is just bull, you know. I don't know about other countries but in this one, it's total massacre. It's not poetry at all. People don't read poetry in this country. If they do, it offends them; they don't dig it. You go to school, man, and what kind of poetry do you read? You read Robert Frost's "The Two Roads", you read T. S. Elliot -- you read all the bull and that's just bad, man, it's not good. It's not anything. It's not anything hard, it's all soft-boiled egg... And then, on top of that, they throw Shakespeare at some kid who can't read Shakespeare. Hey, everybody hates Shakespeare in high school, right? Who digs reading Hamlet, man. All they give you is Ivanhoe, Silas Marner, A Tale of Two Cities -- and they keep you away from things which you should do. You shouldn't even be there in school. You should find out from people. Dig, that's where it all starts. In the beginning -- like from 13 to 19 -- that's where all the corruption is. These people all just overlook it right? There's more V.D. in people 13 to 19 than there is in any other group, but they aren't going to ever say so. They're never going to go into the schools and give shots. But that's where it's at. It's all a hype, man.
Q: Relating to this: If you put it in lyrics instead of poetry, you have a higher chance of hitting the people who have to be hit?
Dylan: I do, but I don't expect anything from it, you dig? All I can do is be me -- whoever that is -- for those people that I do play to, and not come on with them, tell them I'm something that I'm not. I'm not going to tell them that I'm The Great Cause Fighter or The Great Lover or Great Boy Genius or whatever. Because I'm not, man. Why mislead them? That's all just Madison Avenue, that's just selling. Sure, Madison Avenue is selling me, but it's not really selling me, because I was hip to it before I got there.
In Dylan's sixth album he sings a major poem called, "Desolation Row". One stanza has to do with Ezra Pound and T. S. Elliot sitting in the captain's tower of the ship arguing for power while calypso dancers leap on the deck and fishermen hold flowers. The image is relevant to any interview with Dylan, for it illustrates his basic attitude towards showplace words. It has to do with experiencing life, partaking of it's unending facets and hang-ups and wonders instead of merely discussing it. A typical Dylan interview is more an Absurdist Happening than a fact-finding dialogue. He presents himself in shatterproof totality -- usually in a somewhat bugged and bored mode about it -- and lets components fall out as the interviewer pokes at him. He's not taciturn, he's simply aware of his absurd situation and the desperate clamor of folks who want to know how many times he rubs his eyes upon awakening and why.
Unwillingly, Dylan has been shoved onto the podium for all of hipdom. Being a person aware of his fallibility and fragmentary perplexity -- as well as of his freedom and the significance of individuality -- it is hard for him to speak with certainty and weight. He constantly qualifies and insists on his ephemeral subjectivity, constantly underscores his right to privacy and unimportance. In doing so, he communicates a certain insecurity about his desired position in the funny texture of his prefabricated and other-image life.
On stage, Dylan carries himself and his voice with aloofness, a careful detachment from both his material and his audience. Is he interested in actively communicating his songs, in getting through to his audience? "I don't have to prove anything to anyone. those people who dig me know where I'm at-- I don't have to come on to them. I'm not a ballroom singer." What about those in the audience who aren't grooving with him? "I'm not interested in them."
The above quotes are from a press conference. The personnel for this tennis set were various representatives of major news periodicals and teenage fan magazines. Dylan clearly wanted no part of the glib questioning -- he never does. He had been cajoled into presenting himself for dissection. After a long exchange of basically meaningless trivia, I asked Dylan if it were true that nothing of any consequence ever happened at these things, that it was all redundant and silly. He agreed, "Interviewers will write my scene and words from their own bags anyway, no matter what I say. I accept writers and photographers. I don't think it's necessary at all, but it happens anyway. I am really uninvolved."
The press interview tolled leadenly on.
Q: Do you feel you're using more "urban imagery" than in the past? That your lyrics are becoming more sophisticated?
Dylan: Well, I watch too much T.V., I guess.
Q: What about Donovan?
Dylan: I like everybody. I don't want to be petty.
Q: A word for your fans?
Dylan: The lamppost leans on folded arms...
Q: What do you think of the new Bob Dylan?
Dylan: What's your name?
Q: Dave Mopert.
Dylan: Okay, what would you think if someone asked you, "What do you think of the new Dave Mopert?" "What new Dave Mopert?"?
Q: Is Joan Baez still relevant?
Dylan: She's one of the most relevant people I know.
Q: Do you feel you're living a real life?
Dylan: What's that mean? If I'm not living it, who is? And if I'm not, who's life am I living? Who's living mine? What's that?
Q: Do you feel you belong to your public now?
Dylan: No. I don't have any responsibility to the people who are hung up on me. I'm only responsible for what I create -- I didn't create them.
Q: Has your success infringed ion your personal life?
Dylan: What personal life? Hey, I have none.
This sort of ping pong continued about an hour before the interviewers left. Many hostilities and befuddlements had been formed and blurted, and I was sure he'd be just as misquoted and as little understood in the report of this press set as in all the others.
After seeing this typical interview, I realized how lucky I had been to speak with him so easily and so openly. I also realized how essentially meaningless this transcription must be. Dylan lays out many attitudes and concepts which, in their precise articulation and directness, will strike the public as shocking and unique. However, his meaning is to be found in his material. To know precisely what he thinks of Donovan or what year he began writing songs is extraneous. To make him come out for "no war toys" or anti-police brutality is a redundancy. Just listen to his songs.
However, we must shine flashlights down our heroes mouth and count the cavities in his teeth. With that rider, what follows is probably the most meaningfully candid interview Dylan has ever indulged in. I only hope it will give you the deep understanding of and respect for Dylan which I gained.
Q: Which brings up another thing. All the folk magazines and many folk people are very down on you. Do they put you down because you've changed or --
Dylan: It's that I'm successful, man. It's jealousy. Hey, anybody with any kind of knowledge at all would know what I'm doing, would know by instinct what's happening here. somebody who doesn't know that is still hung up with success and failure and good and bad. Maybe he doesn't have a chick all the time, stuff like that. But I can't use comments, man. I don't take anything like that seriously. If somebody praises me and says, "How groovy you are!" it doesn't mean anything to me because I can usually sense where that person is at. And it's no compliment if someone who's a total freak comes up and says, "How groovy you are!" And it's the same if they don't dig me. Other kinds of people don't have to say anything because, when you come down to it, it's all what's happening at the moment that counts. Who cares about tomorrow and yesterday? People don't live there, they live now.
Q: I've a theory which I've been picking up and shaking out every so often. When I spoke with the Byrds, they were saying the same thing that I'm saying. A lot of people are sayin it. It's why we have a new so-called rock 'n' roll sound emerging, it's a synthesis of all things, a --
Dylan: It's further than that, man. People know nowadays more than they did before. They've had so much to look at by now and know the bull of everything. People now don't even care about going to jail. So what? You're still with yourself as much as if you're out on the streets. There are still those who don't care about anything, but I've got to think that anybody who doesn't hurt anybody, you can't put that person down, you dig, if that person's happy doing that.
Q: But what if they freeze themselves into apathy? What if they don't care about anything anymore?
Dylan: What problem is that? Your problem or theirs? No it's not that, it's that nobody can learn by somebody else showing them or teaching them. People have to learn by themselves, by going through something which relates. Sure you say, how do you make somebody know something? People know it by themselves; they can go through some kind of scene with other people and themselves which somehow will come out somewhere, and it'll grind into them and be them. And all that just comes out of them somehow when they're faced with the next thing.
Q: It's like taking in until the time comes to put out, right? But people who don';t care don't put anything out. It's a whole frozen thing where nothing's happening anywhere. It's just the maintenance of the status quo, of existing circumstances, whatever they are.
Dylan: People who don't care? Are you talking about gas station attendants or a Zen doctor, man? Hey, there's a lot of people who don't care. A lot don't care for different reasons. A lot care about some things and not about others, and some don't care about anything. It's not up to me to make them care about anything. It's not up to me to make them care about something -- it's up to me not to let them bring me down and not to bring them down. It's like the whole world has a little thing: it's been taught that when you get up in the morning, you have to go out and bring somebody down. You walk down the street and unless you've brought somebody down, don't come home today, right? It's a circus world.
Q: So who is it that you write and sing for?
Dylan: I'm not writing and singing for anybody, to tell you the truth. Hey, really, I don't care what people say. I don't care what the make me seem to be or what they tell other people I am. If I did care about that, I'd tell you. I really have no concern with it. I don't even come into contact with these people. Hey, I dig people, though. But if someone's going to come up to me and ask me some questions which have been on his mind for such a long time, all I can think is, "Wow, man! What else can be in that person's head besides me? Am I that important, man, to be in a person's head for such a long time that he's got to know this answer?" I mea; can that really straighten him out -- if I tell him something? Hey, come on....
Q: A Los Angeles disc jockey, Les Claypool, went through a whole thing on you one night, just couldn't get off of it. For maybe 45 minutes, he'd play a side of yours and then an ethnic side in which it was demonstrated that both melodies were the same. After each pair he'd say, "Well, you see what's happening... This kid is taking other people's melodies; he's not all that original. Not only that," he'd say, "but his songs are totally depressing and have no hope."
Dylan: Who's Les Claypool?
Q: A folk jockey out here who has a long folk show on Saturday nights and a shorter one each night, during which he plays highly ethnic sides.
Dylan: He played those songs? He didn't play anything hopeful?
Q: No, he was loading it to make his point. Anyway, it brings up an expected question: Why do you use melodies that are already written?
Dylan: I used to do that, when I was more or less in folk. I knew the melodies; they were already there. I did it because I liked the melodies. I did it when I really wasn't that popular and the songs weren't reaching that many people, and everybody dug it. Man, I never introduced a song, "Here's the song I've stolen the melody from, someplace." For me it wasn't that important -- still isn't that important. I don't care about the melodies, man; the melodies are all traditional anyway. And if anyone wants to pick that out and say, "That's Bob Dylan" --that's their thing, not mine. I mean, if they want to think that. Anybody with any sense at all, man -- he says that I haven't any hope! Hey, I got faith ! I know that there are people who are going to know that's total bull. I know the cat is just uptight. He hasn't really gotten into a good day and he has to pick on something. Groovy. He has to pick on me? Hey, if he can't pick on me, he picks on someone else. It doesn't matter. He doesn't step on me, because I don't care. He's not coming up to me on the street and stepping on my head, man. Hey, I've only done that with very few of my songs anyway. And then when I don't do it, everybody says they're rock 'n' roll melodies.You can't satisfy the people -- you just can't. You got to know, man: they just don't care about it.
Q: Why is rock 'n' roll coming in and folk music going out?
Dylan: Folk music destroyed itself. Nobody destroyed it. Folk music is still here -- it's always going to be here, if you want to dig it. It's not that it's going in or out. It's all the soft, mellow crap, man that's just being replaced by something people know is there now. Hey, you must have heard rock 'n' roll long before the Beatles; you must've discarded rock 'n; roll around 1960. I did that in 1957. I couldn't make it as a rock 'n' roll singer then. I used to play piano. I made some records, too(!!).
Q: Okay. You've got a lot of bread now. And your way of life isn't like it was four or five years ago. It's much more grand. Doesn't that kind of thing tend to throw you off?
Dylan: Well, the transition never came from working at it. I left where I'm from because there was nothing there. I came from Minnesota; there was nothing there. I'm not going to fake it and say I went out to see the world or I went out to conquer the world. Hey, when I left there, man, I knew one thing: I had to get out of there and not come back. Just from my senses, I knew there was something more than Walt Disney movies. I was never turned on or off by money. I never considered the fact of money as anything really important. I could always play the guitar, you dig, and make friends -- or fake friends. A lot of other people do a lot of things just to get around. You can find cats who get very scared, right? Who get married and settle down. But, after somebody's got something and sees it all around him, so he doesn't have to sleep out in the cold at night, that's all. The only thing is he doesn't die. But is he happy? There's nowhere to go. Okay, so I get the money, right? First of all, I had to move out of New York. Because everybody was coming down to see me -- people who I didn't really dig. People coming in from weird-___ places. And I would think, for some reason, that I had to give them some place to stay and all that. I found myself not really being by myself but just staying out of things I wanted to go to because people I knew would go there.
Q: Do you find friends, real friends, recognizable anymore?
Dylan: Oh sure, man, I can tell somebody I dig right away. I don't have to go through anything with anybody. I'm just lucky that way.
Q: Back to protest songs. The IWW"s work is over now and the unions are pretty well established. What about the civil rights movement?
Dylan: Well, it's okay now. It's proper. It's not "Commie" anymore. Harper's Bazaar can feature it; you can find it on the cover of Life. But when you get beneath it, like anything, you find there's bull tied up in it. The Negro civil rights movement is proper now, but there's more to it than what's in Harper's Bazaar. There's more to it than picketing in Selma, right? There's people living in utter poverty in New York. And, then again, you have this big Right To Vote. Which is groovy. You want all these Negroes to vote? Okay. I can't go over the boat and shout, "Hallelujah!" Only because they want to vote. Who are they going to vote for? Just politicians -- same as the white people put in the politicians. Anybody that wants to get into politics is a little greaky anyway. Hey, they're just going to vote, that's all they're going to do. I hate to say it like that, make it sound hard, but it's going to boil down to that.
Q: What about the drive for education?
Dylan: Education? They're going to school to learn about all the things that white private schools teach. What are they going to learn? What's this education? Hey, the cat's much better off never going to school. The only thing against him is that he can't be a doctor or a judge. Or he can't get a good job with the salesman's company. But that's the only thing wrong. If you want to say it's good that he gets an education and goes out and gets a job like that, groovy. I'm not going to do it.
Q: In other words, the formal intake of factual knowledge --
Dylan: Hey, I have no respect for factual knowledge, man. I don't care what anybody knows, I don't care if somebody's a living encyclopedia. Does that make him nice to talk to? Who cares if Washington was ever the first president of the United States? Do you think that anybody has actually ever been helped with this kind of knowledge?
Q: Maybe, through a test. Well, what's the answer?
Dylan: There aren't any answers, man . Or any questions. You must read my book(Tarantula)... there's a little part in there about that. It evolves into a thing where it mentions words like answer. I couldn't possibly rattle off the words I use for these, because you'd have to read the whole book to see why I use these specific words for question and answer. We'll have another interview after you read the book.
Q: Why write a book instead of lyrics?
Dylan: I've written some songs which are kind of far-out, a long continuation of verses, stuff like that -- but I haven't really gotten into writing a completely free song. Hey, you dig -- something like cut-ups. I mean like William Burroughs.
Q: Yeah, There's a cat in Paris who published a book with no pagination. The book comes in a box and you throw it in the air and however it lands, you read it like that.
Dylan: Yeah, that's where it's at. Because that's what it means anyway. Okay, I wrote the book because there's a lot of stuff in there which I can't possibly sing... all the collages. I can't sing it because it gets too long or it goes too far out. I can only do it around a few people who would know. Because the majority of the audience -- I don't care where they're from, how hip they are -- I think would get totally lost. Something that had no rhyme, all cut up, no nothing, except something happening which is words.
Q: You wrote the book to say something?
Dylan: Yeah, but certainly not any kind of profound statement. The book doesn't begin or end.
Q: But you had something to say. And you wanted to say it to somebody.
Dylan: Yeah, I said it to myself. Only, I'm lucky cause I could put it into a book. Now somebody else is going to be allowed to see what I said to myself.
Q: Are (your) albums sequential in the way that you composed and sang them?
Dylan: Yeah, I've got about two or three albums that I've never recorded, full of lost songs. They're old songs; I'll never record them. Some very groovy songs. Some old songs which I've written and sang maybe once in concert and nobody else ever heard them. There are a lot of songs which could fill in between the records. I was growing from the first record to the second, then a head change on the third. And the fourth.
Q: So if I started with album One, Side One, Band One, I could truthfully watch Bob Dylan grow?
Dylan: No, you could watch Bob Dylan laugh to himself. Or you could see Bob Dylan going through changes. That's really the most.
The interview was over. After the concert we stopped back in his room before going to a party at his agent's. There, he gave me a few bottles of wine. It wasn't Bob Dylan handing out souvenirs or some sort of usable autograph, it was merely that he had something that he didn't necessarily need which I could use. It was a friendly gesture, an easy act done by someone who doesn't get much chance to be friendly with anyone except old friends.
Next time you hear a Dylan put-down story, remember that he's just as human as human beings are -- and it's his very humanity that makes him the power he is.
Reprinted from IN-BEAT MAGAZINE, May 1965
May 2000 Dylan Interview
Q. All right, first the facts, Mr. Dylan name, age,
place of birth?
Dylan: "Oh my name it is nothin. My age it means less. The country I come from is called the Midwest."
Q. Mr. Dylan, why dont you want to be interviewed?
A. "I dont want to fake you out,
Take or shake or forsake you out,
I aint lookin for you to feel like me,
See like me or be like me.
All I really want to do
Is, baby, be friends with you."
Q. You have had great success over the years. If someone
wanted to follow in your footsteps, what moves would you recommend?
A. "Ah get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success"
Q. When you first arrived in New York City from Minnesota so many years ago, what happened when you went down to Greenwich Village?
A. "I walked down there and ended up
In one of them coffee-houses on the block.
Got on the stage to sing and play,
Man said, "Come back some other day.
You sound like a hillbilly;
We want folk singers here."
Q. You have been on the road a long time. Doesnt all that ramblin make you hungry?
A. "I realized I hadnt eaten for five days straight
I went into a restaurant
Lookin for the cook
I told them I was the editor
Of a famous etiquette book
The waitress he was handsome
He wore a powder blue cape
I ordered some suzette, I said
Could you please make that crepe
Just then the whole kitchen exploded
From boilin fat
Food was flying everywhere
And I left without my hat."
Q. Some people are saying you came here for our famous Santa Cruz food. What are you having for dinner tonight?
A. "Brown rice, seaweed and a dirty hot dog."
Q. After dinner, maybe you will visit one of our Santa Cruz healers. Have you ever tried alternative medicine?
A. "The rainman gave me two cures then he said, jump right in. The one was Texas medicine,the other was just railroad gin. An like a fool I mixed them, An it strangled up my mind, An now people just get uglier, An I have no sense of time."
Q. You have been a political commentator for years. What has Bill Clinton taught the nation?
A. "Even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked."
Q. You have thousands of fans here in Santa Cruz, but very few of them could get tickets to your concert. Whats wrong with those ticket sellers anyway?
A. "Well, theyll stone ya when youre riding in your car.
Theyll stone you when youre playing your guitar...
Theyll stone you when youre tryin to make a buck.
Theyll stone you and then theyll say good luck."
Q. Mr. Dylan, you have been the folk hero, the protest-song crusader, the tambourine man, the recluse, the Christian and the Jewish pilgrim. Can you tell your fans exactly what to expect next?
A. "The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind
The answer is blowin in the wind."
Bob Dylan's commentary from his songs, in order:
With God on Our Side
All I Really Want to Do
Subterranean Homesick Blues
Talking New York
Bob Dylans 115th Dream
On the Road Again
Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again
Its Alright, Ma (Im Only Bleeding)
Rainy Day Women #12 and 35
Blowin in the Wind
Reprinted from the Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 11, 2000
Karen Hughes Interview, Dayton, Ohio, May 21, 1980
Bob Dylan stretched out his hand and reached for a cigarette from a half-empty pack on the table. "It would have been easier", he sighed "If I had become, or a Buddhist, or a Scientologist or if I had gone to Sing Sing"
I asked him if many of his friends had forsaken him.
"Any REAL friends?" Dylan responded tellingly, blowing cigarette smoke away from my face, in the tiny hotel room in Dayton, Ohio, where we talked as his tour was cutting across America's Bible belt and winding it's way back to Los Angeles, Dylan's home of nine years.
"At every point in my life I've had to make decisions for what I believed in. Sometimes I've ended up hurting people that I've loved. Other times I've ended up loving people that I never thought I would."
"You ask me about myself" Dylan said at the end of an intensive session of questioning, "but I'm becoming less and less defined as Christ becomes more and more defined".
"Christianity", he explained, "is not Christ and Christ is not Christianity. Christianity is making Christ the Lord of your life. You're talking about your life now, you're not talking about just part of it, you're not talking about a certain hour every day. You're talking about making Christ the Lord and the Master of your life, the KIng of your life. And you're also talking about Christ, the resurrected Christ, you're not talking about some dead man who had a bunch of good ideas and was nailed to a tree. Who died with those ideas. You're talking about a resurrected Christ who is Lord of your life. We're talking about that type of Christianity".
"It's HIM through YOU. 'He's alive', Paul said, 'I've been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Yet not I but Christ who liveth in me'. See Christ is not some kind of figure down the road. We serve the living God, not dead monuments, dead ideas, dead philosophies. If he had been a dead God, you'd be carrying around a corpse inside you".
Dylan speaks of having constant dialogue with Christ, of surrendering his life to God's will much in the same way as Joan of Arc or St Francis of Assisi would have done. It is, he says, the only thing that matters. When you ask about his band, he replies "I think Jim Keltner and Tim Drummond are the best rhythm section that God ever invented".
His view on American politics is, "God will stay with America as long as America stays with God. A lot of people maybe even the President, maybe a lot of senators, you hear them speak and they'll speak of the attributes of God. But none of them are speaking about being a disciple of Christ".
"There's a different between knowing who Christ is and being a disciple of Christ and recognizing Christ as a personality and being of God. I'm more aware of that than anything and it dictates my very being. So I wouldn't have much to offer anybody who wants to know about politics or history or or art or any of that. I've always been pretty extreme in all them areas anyway".
Whether on or off the road Dylan worships whenever he can at the Assembly of God, a fundamentalist, pentecostal, evangelical denomination that believe in the literal Bible and speaking in tongues. He came to Christ through a revelation, a personal experience with Jesus.
"Jesus put his hand on me. It was a physical thing. I felt it. I felt it all over me. I felt my whole body tremble. The glory of the Lord knocked me down and picked me up".
"Being born again is a hard thing. You ever seen a mother give birth to a child? Well it's painful. We don't like to lose those old attitudes and hang-ups".
"Conversion takes time because you have to learn to crawl before you can walk. You have to learn to drink milk before you can eat meat. You're re-born, but like a baby. A baby doesn't know anything about this world ant that's what it's like when you're re-born. You're a stranger. You have to learn all over again. God will show you what you need to know".
"I guess He's always been calling me", Dylan said gently. "Of course, how would I have ever known that? That it was Jesus calling me. I always thought it was some voice that would be more identifiable. But Christ is calling everybody; we just turn him off. We just don't want to hear. We think he's gonna make our lives miserable, you know what I mean. We think he's gonna make us do things we don't want to do. Or keep us from doing things we want to do".
"But God's got his own purpose and time for everything. He knew when I would respond to His call".
Reprinted from the New Zealand newspaper The Dominion, August 2,1980.
Tim Blackmore Transantlantic Telephone Interview June 12, 1981
Dylan: Well, We've just started playing in Chicago. We've been off the road for about six months.
Blackmore: And how's it looking?
Dylan: Basically it's about the same. Actually, the crowds are a little bigger, this time we're playing outdoors - we haven't played outdoors in a few years so that changes the atmosphere some. Summer nights just kind of hang in the air, get kind of humid much quicker than indoors.
Blackmore: Right, well it's been three years since you were here in London and you played those devastating concerts at the Earl Court and also down at Blackbushe. Are you looking forward to coming back to London?
Dylan: Oh, sure. It seems like they appreciate different things in Europe than they do here. Here they take a lot of things for granted. We've been playing some new songs that nobody has ever heard before. I think people in England react more spontaneously to the stuff that I do than then the people here, you know, you sit here so for long and they take you for granted, you know, and anyway, I've taken lot of my earlier songs from a lot of old English ballads and Irish ballads and stuff like that, so people will probably relate to that a lot more over there than they do here. Here, I'm not really sure if people are aware of where songs like 'Master Of War' or 'Girl From The North Country', where those songs originate and come from.
Blackmore: What was particularly exciting ... When you played Earl's Court last time was, I think a lot of us who followed your music and had been with you over the years, we were, perhaps, a little worried if you'd be playing the old songs when you came last time and you came in with those tremendous new arrangements. Were you at all nervous about whether people would accept the old songs and new arrangements?
Dylan: They did in Europe and in England. They accepted them, they didn't much accept them here and they called them - you know, I think they at the time were saying "Dylan's on a new wave" or "Disco Kick" or something like that, but over there they seemed to .... I didn't think of my songs as disco or they seemed to apply meaning to them which I'd never intended and I didn't find that to be true over there.
Blackmore: Does that mean when you started this tour that you're now doing in America that you've avoided doing re-arrangements of the old songs?
Dylan: Well. I wouldn't call them re-arrangements of the old songs. I think they are really more true to their character now. The band I've got with me now are I think the best band I've ever had. Everybody seems to understand my music more than any band I've ever had - usually I put together bands that wouldn't be put together otherwise, but this time it seemed like that this band is born to be, together with me.
Blackmore: Is there anybody who was in the band that you brought over last time, who'll be coming with you this time?
Dylan: Well, there's just one girl, tha's Carolyn Dennis - she's a really fine singer, she's been with me about three or four years. She's the only one I think who's been with me - most everybody else is new this time over, but I'm sure that you'll like the band.
Blackmore: What's happened since you were here last is you've released the two albums, which really testified to your Christian faith. Are we going to hear more of those songs in your set now?
Dylan: No, you won't be hearing any more of those songs but what happens, you know, is over a period of time those songs become old songs. And we've just finished a new album that I think is really good. We just finished that in the last month and it's supposed to be ready for release now and we'll be playing some stuff off that album too, and then things that go back as far as 'Blowin In The Wind' - I'm trying to do as many songs as i can from just all kind of periods of time.
Blackmore: Is this album something you've done with Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett again?
Dylan: No, I did it by myself this time. Me and a guy named Chuck Plotkin - we just - I go tired of making records that kind of didn't turn out the way that I had planned it to be, but this time, this album, it sounds pretty much the way I hear my music. I think you'll like it.
Blackmore: Well I certainly look forward to it. Did you have any nervousness about coming here after that gap the previous time?
Dylan: Hmmm. Yes, maybe so I did have a little bit of nervousness - you always do. Usually the reception makes me nervous more than the actual performances - I don't get too nervous during the performances, but all the attention and all the media, you know, all that makes me kind of nervous. When you come in at the airport and there's photographers and people ask you questions and all that kind of makes me nervous.
Blackmore: A lot of people listening to you Bob will probably be surprised to hear you say that after what is twenty years of making music before people, that you're still nervous in front of the attention the media gives you.
Dylan: (laughs) No .. I really don't - It just makes me nervous. I just feel people put me in a position that I didn't really start out to be in. I like to perform, I like to play, but the rest of it kind of confuses me sometimes. I'm kind of camera shy. Anyway, I never did like to have my picture taken.
Blackmore: You don't seem to be microphone shy though, you're talking into this telephone very freely.
Dylan: Well, that's a different thing because you can't see me. (laughs)
Blackmore: Well, I certainly look forward to seeing you. What do you think the chances would be of you coming to see us at Capital Radio when you are in London?
Dylan: Well, I don't know - it depends if we have the time, you know. Maybe you'll come backstage at one of the shows or something and I'll get the chance to meet you.
Blackmore: Well, I'd certainly like to do that very much!
Dylan: OK Tim, well listen, I got to go catch the bus.
Blackmore: OK, Well I hope you have a good bus trip and we look forward to seeing you over here in just a couple of weeks time. Good luck with the rest of the tour over your side of the pond.
Dylan: OK, thank you. Bye.
This is one of three telephone interviews that Dylan did in Chicago June 12, 1981 to promote the up coming European tour and the new album, Shot Of Love.
The interview was broadcast by Capitol Radio in London on June 15.