Friday, April 17, 2009


This is the second installment of Bob on Bob--the man in his own words. The first post included clips of early Dylan, these later clips are also pretty amazing. (Link to the earlier post here)

People who think Bob Dylan's best work is behind him haven't been paying attention. This artist keeps evolving. Right now he's on a winning streak that should continue with the forthcoming album, Together Through Life, due April 23rd. If the new record is anything like the single, Beyond Here Lies Nothin' (link below), we can expect a smoldering bluesy joint reminiscent of the classic Chess records of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.

Dylan performs "Love Sick" at the Grammys when an unexpected idiot jumps onstage to bask in the glow. The man barely fazes Dylan, who has seen it all. This segment was edited strongly for official release. This is the full, unedited version, complete with the "Soy Bomb."

The Interview

Dylan recently spoke with rock critic Bob Flanagan and provided a glimpse into the creative process, the music industry, and his favorite songwriters. Here are a couple excerpts. (Links to the full interview below)

Bill Flanagan: A lot of the acts from your generation seem to be trading on nostalgia. They play the same songs the same way for the last 30 years. Why haven't you ever done that?

Bob Dylan: I couldn't if I tried. Those guys you are talking about all had conspicuous hits. They started out anti-establishment and now they are in charge of the world. Celebratory songs. Music for the grand dinner party. Mainstream stuff that played into the culture on a pervasive level. My stuff is different from those guys. It's more desperate. Daltrey, Townshend, McCartney, the Beach Boys, Elton, Billy Joel. They made perfect records, so they have to play them perfectly ... exactly the way people remember them. My records were never perfect. So there is no point in trying to duplicate them. Anyway, I'm no mainstream artist.

BF: Then what kind of artist are you?

BD: I'm not sure, Byronesque maybe. Look, when I started out, mainstream culture was Sinatra, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Sound of Music. There was no fitting into it then and of course, there's no fitting into it now. Some of my songs have crossed over but they were all done by other singers.

"Cold Irons Bound" on the set of Masked and Anonymous with his loyal band from The Neverending Tour. (full lyrics here)

BF: Who are some of your favorite songwriters?

BD: Buffett I guess. Lightfoot. Warren Zevon. Randy. John Prine. Guy Clark. Those kinds of writers.

BF: What songs do you like of Buffett's?

BD: "Death of an Unpopular Poet." There's another one called "He Went to Paris."

BF: You and Lightfoot go way back.

BD: Oh yeah. Gordo's been around as long as me.

BF: What are your favorite songs of his?

BD: "Shadows," "Sundown," "If You Could Read My Mind." I can't think of any I don't like.

BF: Did you know Zevon?

BD: Not very well.

BF: What did you like about him?

BD: "Lawyers, Guns and Money." "Boom Boom Mancini." Down hard stuff. "Join me in L.A." sort of straddles the line between heartfelt and primeval. His musical patterns are all over the place, probably because he's classically trained. There might be three separate songs within a Zevon song, but they're all effortlessly connected. Zevon was a musician's musician, a tortured one. "Desperado Under the Eaves." It's all in there.

BF: Randy Newman?

BD: Yeah, Randy. What can you say? I like his early songs, "Sail Away," "Burn Down the Cornfield," "Louisiana," where he kept it simple. Bordello songs. I think of him as the Crown Prince, the heir apparent to Jelly Roll Morton. His style is deceiving. He's so laid back that you kind of forget he's saying important things. Randy's sort of tied to a different era like I am.

BF: How about John Prine?

BD: Prine's stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mindtrips to the nth degree. And he writes beautiful songs. I remember when Kris Kristofferson first brought him on the scene. All that stuff about "Sam Stone" the soldier junky daddy and "Donald and Lydia," where people make love from ten miles away. Nobody but Prine could write like that. If I had to pick one song of his, it might be "Lake Marie." I don't remember what album that's on.

(from Flanagan interview, Part 5)

"One Too Many Mornings," live from the Rolling Thunder Tour, 1976. The last day of the tour, playing in the rain, Dylan sings his heart out. "I gaze back to the street, the sidewalk and the sign..."

The rest of the Dylan interview by Bill Flanagan can be read in its entirety here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 5
Now, the final installment, Part 6

"Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" from the forthcoming Dylan album:

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