You've been on the road pretty steadily for forty years.
I like the originality of being on the road. It's real life, in real time.
What is it that is so enjoyable?
The groupies and the drinking and the parties backstage . . . [Laughs] Why would anybody? Performers are performers. Why do you still edit your magazine?
It's something I do well, and one gets pleasure out of something one does well.
Exactly. It's the one thing in life you find you can do well.
You said that going out on the road makes you write more.
Yeah. That would be true, to a certain degree. But if you don't have to write songs, why write them? Especially if you've got so many you could never play — there wouldn't be enough time to play them all, anyway. I've got enough where I don't really feel the urge to write anything additional.
You just released this amazing new record. The title, Modern Times, seems to be a very deliberate statement.
Well, I don't know. Can you think of a better title?
Highway 61 Revisited. How did you decide on that title?
Titles are something that come after you've done whatever it is you've done. I don't set out with a title. It was something that probably just passed through my mind. Why, does it have some impact?
It seems that you set out to assess America right now. Is there a general theme to the record?
You would have to ask every individual person who hears it what it would mean. It would probably mean many things on many levels to many different kinds of people.
To me, it seems that it's about war and corruption.
Well, all my records are, to a certain degree. That's the nature of them.
Your records are about power, knowledge, salvation.
That would be not so easy for me to relate to, what a record is about. It is a statement, it's its own statement, its own entity, rather than being about something else. If I was a painter . . . I don't paint the chair, I would paint feelings about the chair.
You're a student of history. If you were to take the current moment and put it in a historical context, where do you think we are?
That would be hard to do, unless you put yourself ten years into the future. It's not the nature of a song to imply what's going on under any current philosophy any more than . . . how can I explain it? Like all the music that came out of the First and Second World Wars. Did you ever notice how lighthearted it was? If you listen to the songs from that period, you would think that there's nothing gloomy on the horizon.
Do you think it's gloomy on the horizon?
In what sense do you mean?
Bob, come on.
No, you come on. In what sense do you mean that? If you're talking about in a political sense . . .
In a general political, spiritual, historical sense. You're talking about the end of times on this record, you've got a very gloomy vision of the world, you're saying, "I'm facing the end of my life and looking at all this . . ."
Aren't we all always doing that?
No, some people are trying to avoid it. But I'm trying to interview you and you're not being very helpful with this.
Jann, have I ever been helpful?
You have been in the past. You gave some really great interviews in the last several years.
Yeah, but I wasn't on tour when I was doing them; I could be fully present. But now, I'm thinking about amps going out and . . .
You don't have people taking care of those for you?
You would hope.
You can't find a good road manager, is that the problem here?
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