Bob gives an explanation for why he put the 30 songs on 3 CDs when they would have fit on 2 CDs:
Is there something about the 10 song, 32 minute length that appeals to you?That's either mystical, metaphorical, or bullshit.
Sure, it’s the number of completion. It’s a lucky number, and it’s symbolic of light. As far as the 32 minutes, that’s about the limit to the number of minutes on a long playing record where the sound is most powerful, 15 minutes to a side. My records were always overloaded on both sides. Too many minutes to be recorded or mastered properly. My songs were too long and didn’t fit the audio format of an LP. The sound was thin and you would have to turn your record player up to nine or ten to hear it well. So these CDs to me represent the LPs that I should have been making.
Are you concerned about what Bob Dylan fans think about these standards?The songs, he says, have "the essence of life... in them – the human condition." He's learned "how perfectly the lyrics and melodies are intertwined, how relevant to everyday life they are, how non-materialistic." Interesting to ponder the "relevant to everyday life"/"non-materialistic" connection. Ordinarily, one might think of everyday life as being materialistic, so how does the absence of materialism fit everyday life? Maybe it's just an elaborate, enigmatic way to say they are love songs.
These songs are meant for the man on the street, the common man, the everyday person. Maybe that is a Bob Dylan fan, maybe not, I don’t know....
Later, he says the songs "take you out of that mainstream grind where you’re trapped between differences which might seem different but are essentially the same" and "These songs are cold and clear-sighted, there is a direct realism in them, faith in ordinary life just like in early rock and roll."
When you see footage of yourself performing 40 or 50 years ago, does it seem like a different person? What do you see?Here's a list of movies that have inspired Dylan songs, according to Dylan: The Robe, King of Kings, Samson and Delilah, Picnic, A Face in the Crowd.
I see Nat King Cole, Nature Boy – a very strange enchanted boy, a terribly sophisticated performer, got a cross section of music in him, already postmodern. That’s a different person than who I am now....
Bob describes rock and roll: "It was skeleton music, came out of the darkness and rode in on the atom bomb and the artists were star headed like mystical Gods.... Rock and roll was atomic powered, all zoom and doom."
Flanagan asks what's special about Minnesota? I was interested in that because I was just thinking about how Bob Dylan doesn't seem too bonded to his state. He'll refer to "The Girl From North Country" or say "The country I come from is called the midwest" — making Minnesota into something vague and mythic. I searched his song lyrics and found only 2 mentions of Minnesota. One is the familiar "Went to See the Gypsy" (where we hear of "that little Minnesota town" that is never named). The other is the completely obscure...
See the fine print?
From the Michigan mud past the Wisconsin sun/’Cross that Minnesota border — Minnesota gets thrown in with Michigan and Wisconsin, giving the whole general area a flyover feeling.
So here's how he answers the question "Is there any quality people have there that you don’t find elsewhere?"
Not necessarily. Minnesota has its own Mason Dixon line. I come from the north and that’s different from southern Minnesota; if you’re there you could be in Iowa or Georgia. Up north the weather is more extreme – frostbite in the winter, mosquito-ridden in the summer, no air conditioning when I grew up, steam heat in the winter and you had to wear a lot of clothes when you went outdoors. Your blood gets thick. It’s the land of 10,000 lakes – lot of hunting and fishing. Indian country, Ojibwe, Chippewa, Lakota, birch trees, open pit mines, bears and wolves – the air is raw. Southern Minnesota is farming country, wheat fields and hay stacks, lots of corn fields, horses and milk cows. In the north it’s more hardscrabble. It’s a rugged environment – people lead simple lives, but they lead simple lives in other parts of the country too. People are pretty much the same wherever you go. There is good and bad in most people, doesn’t matter what state you live in. Some people are more self-sufficient than other places – some more secure, some less secure – some people mind their own business, some don’t.He talks of getting a "a heightened sense of being" from hearing Lenny Bruce and Lord Buckley and from reading read Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. And he got into the "self-ruling world" of "poets, rebel girls, folk singers." Here's how he describes Joan Baez:
She was something else, almost too much to take. Her voice was like that of a siren from off some Greek island. Just the sound of it could put you into a spell. She was an enchantress. You’d have to get yourself strapped to the mast like Odysseus and plug up your ears so you wouldn’t hear her. She’d make you forget who you were.Flanagan asks him about all the songs by other people that mention him: "John Lennon in 'Yer Blues,' Ricky Nelson in 'Garden Party,' David Bowie in 'Song for Bob Dylan.'" And Dylan picks his favorite:
He's asked about the the theory that he's "the jester" in “American Pie”....
Yeah, Don McLean, “American Pie,” what a song that is. A jester? Sure, the jester writes songs like “Masters of War,” “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” “It’s Alright, Ma” – some jester. I have to think he’s talking about somebody else. Ask him.He likes Amy Winehouse: "She was the last real individualist around."
Bob Dylan's family didn't have a TV until he was 14 or 15. There were only shows on from 3 in the afternoon until 9 at night, and he says he liked everything that came on. Here's a list of shows he rattles off:
Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Highway Patrol, Father Knows Best... Studio One, Fireside Theatre... Beat the Clock, To Tell the Truth, Queen for a Day... You Are There with Walter Cronkite, The Twilight Zone..."They were all good."
Asks what he watches now, on the tour bus, he says: "I Love Lucy, all the time, non-stop."
He reveals why he wore his hair in that wild curled up way he did in the 1960s: "I was trying to look like Little Richard."