Bob Dylan’s First Interview in Years Offers Takes on George Floyd, the Pandemic, Little Richard and … the Eagles
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Who knew Bob Dylan wasn't just determined for Eagles - take that, Henley / Frey-Hasser! - but that he thinks Joe Walsh's song "Pretty Maids in a Row", probably the least revived song on the "Hotel California" album, is "one of the best songs ever"?
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Probably no one before the release of Dylan's first interview on Friday in the New York Times for at least four years, and the only one known to support his new album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, which is coming out June 19.
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The history professor and author Douglas Brinkley's questions and answers mainly address issues more important than Dylan's unexpected Walsh fandom, including the pandemic, the aftermath of George Floyd's death and, to put it lightly, the inevitable extinction of humanity. Plus: Which Rolling Stones song would you like to have written?
Here are a dozen things we learned from Dylan's very rare Meet-the-Press (or Meet-the-Prof) moment:
The one-time “protest singer” has continued to adjust to current events. Brinkley described him as "depressed" in a recent phone call when the conversation turned to events in his home state of Minnesota. "It made me infinitely sick to see George tortured to death like this," says Dylan. "It was more than ugly. Let us hope that justice for the Floyd family and the nation comes quickly. "
The pandemic led him to quote Barry McGuire (or P.F. Sloan). “Extreme arrogance can lead to catastrophic punishments. Maybe we're on the eve of the destruction, ”he says. But he resists the interviewer's suggestion that we could look at the plague "in biblical terms". "You mean like some kind of warning sign so people regret their wrongdoing? That would mean that the world is up for some kind of divine punishment, ”he says, undermining this line of theology.
He loved the Broadway show "Girl in the North Country" based on his songs that had just opened before the lockdowns. "I saw it as an anonymous viewer, not someone who has anything to do with it," he says. “The piece made me cry in the end. … When the curtain fell, I was stunned. I really was. It's a shame that Broadway was closed because I wanted to see it again. "
The Rolling Stones songs that he would have liked to write are probably not the ones you would think. Well, "Wild Horses" might be an obvious choice. But less: "Angie" and "Ventilator Blues".
He worshiped little Richard, whose gospel time is underestimated, for him. The late rock pioneer “lit a match under me. I've adjusted myself to things that I never would have known on my own. ... little Richard was a great gospel singer. But I think he was seen as an outsider or intruder in the gospel world. You didn't accept him there. And of course the rock'n'roll world wanted him to continue singing "Good Golly, Miss Molly". Therefore, his gospel music was not accepted in any world. I think the same thing happened to Sister Rosetta Tharpe. I cannot imagine that one of them cares too much about it. We called both people of high character. "
His other favorite Eagles songs? He prefers the "Hotel California" through and through. In addition to "Pretty Maids", Dylan mentions "New Kid in Town" and "Life in the Fast Lane".
He admits that his recent songwriting is a stream of consciousness. He says the writing is “somehow in a trance. Most of my recent songs are like this ... The songs seem to know themselves and they know that I can sing them, vocally and rhythmically. They write themselves and count on me to sing them.
He has no second thoughts about putting Anne Frank, the Stones and Indiana Jones side by side in one of his new songs as people with whom he compares himself. When it is pointed out that Indiana Jones, unlike the others, is a fictional character, he replies: "Yes, but the John Williams score brought him to life. Without this music, it would not have been a big movie. It is the music that brings Indy to life. Maybe that's one of the reasons he's in the song. I don't know, all three names came at the same time. "
Dylan doesn't feel particularly musically creative at home - that mainly happens in his free moments when he's on the go. When asked if he explores musical ideas in a private studio, Dylan says that this “mostly happens in hotel rooms. A hotel room comes closest to a private studio. "
Don't call him a jam band. The fans may be amazed at how Dylan reinvents his classics on tour, but when asked what role improvisation plays in his performances, Dylan replies with certainty: “None at all. There is no way to change the style of a song once you've invented it. ... you basically play the same thing over and over in the most perfect way you can. "
He has a lot of jazz influences. After some extensive riffs on jazz, Dylan admits: “Ella Fitzgerald as a singer inspires me. Oscar Peterson as a piano player, absolutely. Did anything inspire me as a songwriter? Yes, "Ruby, My Dear" by Monk. "
When it comes to mortality, he thinks less of his own than of the bell that rings for humanity. "I'm thinking of the death of humanity. The long strange journey of the naked monkey, ”says Dylan, pointing out that“ everyone's life is so fleeting. Everyone, no matter how strong or powerful, is fragile when it comes to death. I think about it in general, not in a personal way. "
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