December 5, 2004

Bob Dylan on "60 Minutes."

For the first third of the "60 Minutes" interview, I am racking my brain trying to figure out who he reminds me of, with his deliberately taciturn answers and his odd, wary look. Then I realize it's Tom Waits, maybe somewhere around the point when he says he always thought you were supposed to lie to the press (as opposed to God and to yourself). I can't tell how much he is playing a role and how much he is just a sad, strange guy. He speaks of his writing as magical, not in a boastful way, but wistfully remembering how the songs once flowed out of him. He recites...
Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child's balloon

... and wonders at how a person could just come out with something like that. But maybe he does know and pretending not to know is part of the mystique act, the lie he's been telling to the press and to the world. But what's his motivation? Who knows? If I had to guess I'd say that he's afraid he doesn't have enough inside to reveal. The phantom Bob is much more substantial.

The interview ends with Bob seeming to want to stir up a Robert Johnson-style legend of making a pact with the devil:
ED BRADLEY: You're still out here, doing these songs. You're still on tour.

BOB DYLAN: I do, but I don't take it for granted.

BRADLEY: Why do you still do it? Why are you still out here?

DYLAN: Well, it goes back to that destiny thing. You know, I made a bargain with it, you know, long time ago. I'm holding up my end.

BRADLEY: What was your bargain?

DYLAN: Get where I am now.

BRADLEY (smiling): Should I ask who you made the bargain with?

DYLAN (laughing): With, with, with, with, you know, the chief, the chief commander.

BRADLEY: On this earth?

DYLAN: On this earth, and in the world we can't see.

Dylan purses his lips, maybe to keep from laughing at himself or laughing at Bradley for letting him get away with saying such things.

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