Bob Dylan is notoriously wary of journalists, so it’s always big news when a new Dylan interview does the rounds — and yesterday, a new Dylan interview was published! It’s not, however, in the New York Times, or Rolling Stone, or whatever else. No, Dylan seems to have hit upon a plan for avoiding journalists; instead, he’ll organize his own interviewer, and publish the results on his own website! So it is that there is currently a mammoth, 8,000 word-long Q&A with author/TV exec Bill Flanagan residing on BobDylan.com.
In it, the singer speaks a lot about his new album (why yes, this interview does coincide with the release of a new album!), throwing in enough golden-era-of-rock anecdotes to keep the masses engaged. There’s a sense that Flanagan is living out every boomer rock journalist’s dream by sitting down for a loooooong chat with Bob, even if said chat is basically publicity for a new record. He asks questions like, “You met John Wayne in 1966 – how did you two hit it off?” Dylan occasionally replies with non-sequiturs. So many pearls of wisdom! So many cryptic nuggets to pore over!
There are flashes of genuine insight to be found here, like when Flanagan points out that some of the vocals on the new album are, y’know, not nasal and gravelly, and asks whether Dylan “[picks] vocal approaches like an actor playing a role”; Dylan replies, “No, it’s more like hypnosis, you instill it in your mind and you keep repeating it over and over until you got it. An actor playing a role? Like who? Scatman Crothers? George C. Scott? Steve McQueen? It would probably be more like a method actor, whatever a method actor is. Remembrance of things past, I do that all the time.”
More often, though, he says things like, “It’s like ‘Mack the Knife,’ but nothing like ‘Mack the Knife’,” which, look, I don’t set out to hate on Bob Dylan, but what the fuck is he talking about? He apparently watches I Love Lucy “all the time, non-stop” on the tour bus — maybe he’s joking when he says that, but who knows? — and, happily, he likes Iggy Pop’s new record. He describes Amy Winehouse as “the last real individualist around,” which, OK. If you say so, Bob.
Probably the best bit, though, is this:
For The New Basement Tapes, T Bone Burnett put together a group with Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Jim James, Marcus Mumford and Taylor Goldsmith, to finish songs based on old lyrics of yours. Did you hear any of those songs and say, “I don’t remember writing that?” Did you say Taylor Swift? Taylor Goldsmith. Yeah, OK. No, I don’t remember writing any of those songs.
They just don’t make them like Bob any more, eh?