2000 Dylan Interview
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
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
Q. You have been a political commentator for years. What has Bill Clinton taught
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
Hughes Interview, Dayton, Ohio, May 21, 1980
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
"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.
Blackmore Transantlantic Telephone Interview June 12, 1981
We've just started playing in Chicago. We've been off the road for about six
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
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
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
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
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.
1965 Dylan Interview
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
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
Q: But what if they freeze themselves into apathy? What if they don't care about
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
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
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