If you’re one of those people who’ve never really understood the appeal of Bob Dylan, and why so many millions of us continue to listen to the reefy voice of an enigmatic, skinny 60-something every time he puts out a new album, read this interview.
It’s full of casually tossed-off observations about Barack Obama, the Civil War, and Elvis.
He’s got a keen mind for history (which serious listeners of his songs will know) and is just so damn perceptive about his fellow human beings. Here he is, describing Obama, another man with a startling ability to see things through other peoples’ eyes:
Dylan: [Obama’s] writing style hits you on more than one level. It makes you feel and think at the same time and that is hard to do. He says profoundly outrageous things. He’s looking at a shrunken head inside of a glass case in some museum with a bunch of other people and he’s wondering if any of these people realize that they could be looking at one of their ancestors.
Bill Flanagan [from the Times UK]: What in his book would make you think he’d be a good politician?
Dylan: Well nothing really. In some sense you would think being in the business of politics would be the last thing that this man would want to do. I think he had a job as an investment banker on Wall Street for a second – selling German bonds. But he probably could’ve done anything. If you read his book, you’ll know that the political world came to him. It was there to be had.
Even his description of a new song sounds profound and casual in the same breath:
Bill Flanagan: In that song Chicago After Dark were you thinking about the new President?
Bob Dylan: Not really. It’s more about State Street and the wind off Lake Michigan and how sometimes we know people and we are no longer what we used to be to them. I was trying to go with some old time feeling that I had.
In a weird way, Obama and Dylan are like two sides of the same coin.