Exclusive Interview BoB Dylan
tight, someone’s packing a ‘Saturday Night Special’
How is he to work with? Georgia or Ukraine wrote a song about George Bush’s
in Jolene, there’s a cold blooded killer stalking
He’s good with me. He’s been playing with Tom for visit? I know they named the airport road after him
the town in It’s All Good and the woman in My
so long that he hears everything from a songwriter’s and his popularity in those places remained very high,
Wife’s Home Town is going to make the singer kill
point of view and he can play most any style. even when no one liked him at home.
someone. Does putting violence in a song up the
They name roads after a lot of people.
ante? Does it make the song riskier?
There’s a lot of accordion on this record - in places
Well no. The main point is to acknowledge things
where we might expect to hear harmonica or organ In My Wife’s Home Town there’s the line, “Dreams
without going off the deep end. I think whatever’s
or lead guitar. never did work for me anyway.” Do you really
there is justified. You choose these things carefully.
Yeah, I guess so. The accordion can sound like all those believe that?
instruments. Actually, I wished I had used it more on Well, yeah. Dreams can lead us up a blind alley.
You’ve been working in a lot of different areas
some of my past records. Everybody has dreams. We go to sleep and we dream.
lately. Your book was a best-seller, you acted in a
I’ve always thought of them as coming out of the
movie, Theme Time Radio Hour is very popular and
Who’s playing that? subconscious. I guess you can interpret them. Dreams
you had an exhibit of your art work. Does working
David Hidalgo. can tell us a lot about ourselves, if we can remember
in other media feed back into the music?
them. We can see what’s coming around the corner
I think if it happens it might happen the other way
Have you guys ever played together before? sometimes without actually going to the corner.
I think so. Los Lobos played some shows with me in
Mexico a while back. I remember playing some things Can’t dreams also mean hopes about the future?
Did Chronicles work like that?
with David and Cesar then. Oh sure. It’s about how we use the word, I guess.
Well sure, Chronicles has its own rhythm. And I guess
Hopes for the future? I’ve always connected them
that would come out of playing songs.
Is there a chance you’ll add an accordion on stage? up with fears about the future. Hopes and fears go
Well sure, if I could fit it into my rhythm section. together like a comedy team. But I know what you
How about your art work?
are talking about. Like in the Everly Brothers song,
That’s completely out of the blue. I’ve always drawn
Did you write any of these songs with the All I Have To Do Is Dream. If they said, “All I have to
and painted, but up until recently, nobody’s taken an
accordion in mind or did it come up during the do is hope,” it wouldn’t be saying the same thing. It
interest. There’s never been any support for it.
sessions? wouldn’t be as strong.
I use an accordion player when I play off-road
shows. It’s a perfect instrument in a lot of ways. What about political dreams?
Well, I’ve had a museum exhibit, I have an association
It’s orchestrative and percussive at the same time. Oh yeah. Politicians would have political dreams
with a London gallery, and there’ll probably be
Actually accordion players were the first musicians - dreams and ambitions. Maybe we are talking about
another exhibition of new works in another European
that I had seen a lot of growing up. two different things.
museum in 2010. Now I’m scrambling to keep up. I’ve
been commissioned to do paintings and they want
me to work with iron and lead.
How do you find subject matter?
I just draw what’s interesting to me, and then I paint
it. Rows of houses, orchard acres, lines of tree trunks,
All the Modern Times songs were written and performed
could be anything. I can take a bowl of fruit and turn it
into a life and death drama. Women are power figures,
in the widest range possible, so they had a little bit of
so I depict them that way. I can find people to paint
in mobile home communities. I could paint bourgeois
everything. These new songs have a more romantic edge.
people too. I’m not trying to make social comment
or fulfill somebody’s vision. I can find subject matter
anywhere. I guess in some way that comes out of the
folk world that I came up in.
“Opened his eyes to the tune of the accordion.” What’s your take on politics?
Precisely. Politics is entertainment. It’s a sport. It’s for the well
In If You Ever Go To Houston the character sends
groomed and well heeled. The impeccably dressed.
messages to three sisters in Dallas; two get off with
Tell me about Joey Gallo. Party animals. Politicians are interchangeable.
a friendly greeting but then the other is warned
Tell you what about him?
to “Pray the Sinner’s Prayer.” What’s the Sinner’s
In that song Chicago After Dark, were you thinking
You wrote a song about him. Some say it takes about the new President?
That’s the one that begins with “Father forgive me for
liberty with the truth. Not really. It’s more about State Street and the wind off
I have sinned.”
Really? I wouldn’t know. Jacques Levy wrote the Lake Michigan and how sometimes we know people
words. Jacques had a theatrical mind and he wrote a and we are no longer what we used to be to them. I
The instrumental sections on your albums have a
lot of plays. So the song might have been theatre of was trying to go with some old time feeling that I had.
different quality than the usual rock instrumental
the mind. I just sang it.
sections. For instance, on an Aerosmith record,
When you think back to the Civil War, one thing
at least part of it is about Joe Perry’s solo. While
Some say Davy Crockett takes a lot of liberties with you forget is that no battles, except Gettysburg,
there’s wonderful playing on Beyond Here Lies
the truth and Billy the Kid too - FDR in Trinidad. were fought in the North.
Nothing, we don’t hear the usual guitar soloing
Have you ever heard that? Yeah. That’s what probably makes the Southern part of
technique. Is there a special way you approach the
I certainly do remember it. “When Roosevelt came to the country so different.
instrumental sections on a record?
the land of the hummingbird.” I wonder if anybody in
What can I say, if I had Joe Perry with me everything
There is a certain sensibility, but I’m not sure how
would obviously be different. As it is though, he wasn’t
there. Soloing is not a big part of my records anyway.
It must be the Southern air. It’s filled with rambling
Nobody buys them to hear solos. What I try to do is to
ghosts and disturbed spirits. They’re all screaming
make sure that the instrumental sections are dynamic
and forlorning. It’s like they are caught in some weird
and are extensions of the overall feeling of the song.
web - some purgatory between heaven and hell and
they can’t rest. They can’t live, and they can’t die. It’s
Who’s that playing with you here?
like they were cut off in their prime, wanting to tell
somebody something. It’s all over the place. There are
war fields everywhere. . . a lot of times even in people’s
You have a history with Mike?
Yeah, I do. He played with me a lot when I played with
Have you felt them?
Oh sure. You’d be surprised. I was in Elvis’s hometown
I saw some of those shows. I particularly liked the
– Tupelo. And I was trying to feel what Elvis would
segment during the show when it was just you and
have felt back when he was growing up.
Mike and Benmont and no bass or drums.
Yeah. We worked out a few things. I would’ve always
Did you feel all the music Elvis must have heard?
liked to have seen that develop more, but it didn’t.
No, but I’ll tell you what I did feel. I felt the ghosts from
the bloody battle that Sherman fought against Forrest
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