I am not familiar with Mikal Gilmore who interviewed Bob Dylan in the recent issue of Rolling Stone. He is certainly a very privileged journalist since Dylan rarely gives interviews to the mainstream media. The last one I can recall was with the late Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes in December 2004.
My first impression of the interview was that Dylan’s remarks were vague and open to interpretation as his songs. I will not be comprehensive in my analysis. It would take me quite a long time for that.
Dylan - “My songs are personal. I wouldn’t want people singing along with me. It would sound funny.” The last time that Dylan sang with someone on an official recording was in 1969 with Johnny Cash doing Girl from the North Country in 1969. Back in 1995 I was at a concert at the Beacon Theater when he sang Dark Eyes with Pattie Smyth. I also remember Dylan saying that he doesn’t care for people covering his songs.
Dylan -“What others think about me, that’s so irrelevant.” I interpret that is that Dylan does not appreciate the support of his fans. Some time ago he referred to Mel Prussack as “that nut from new Jersey.” I remember in 1997 when we saw him at William Paterson University he smiled at the audience. In general, he only talks to the audience when he introduces his back up musicians.
Bob Dylan’s motorcycle accident in July 1966 was a very significant incident in his history and obviously changed the course of his career.. Within the interview there is a sidebar talking about the other Bobby Zimmerman who was the president of the San Bernadino Hells Angles. He died in a motorcycle crash in 1961.
Dylan - “I like Bruce [Springsteen] like a brother. He is a powerful performer unlike anybody. I care about him deeply.” I never had anything against Springsteen, but I was just never a big fan of him. Dylan appeals to the baby boomers who listened to popular music in the 60s and 70s while Springsteen’s fans are younger. Some years back Dylan and Springsteen played together at one concert at Shea Stadium. I really wish they would collaborate, but as Dylan said above he doesn’t want anybody singing with him. Springsteen has covered some Dylan songs including Chimes of Freedom.
The interviewer asked if there will be a Chronicles 2. Dylan responded “Oh, let’s hope so. I am always working on parts of it. But the last Chronicles I did all by myself. I am not really so sure I had a proper editor for that. …… It is a lot of work. I don’t mind writing it, but its rereading it and the time it takes to reread it- that for me is difficult.” - The Never Ending Tour takes a break at Thanksgiving. Maybe then Bob can take time to write Chronicles 2.
There was so much more in the interview. I don’t want to write an entire book, so I’ll close here. Here is a little bad news; there is no free version on the web. You will have to buy a copy of Rolling Stone at a newsstand. I may be one of the few people who subscribe to Rolling Stone and the AARP magazine. There is an explanation for that, but I won’t talk about that now.