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Bob Dylan, Recovering Christian

Page 8 of 9

In the Sixties, there was feeling that this society really was changing. Looking back, do you feel it changed that much?
I think it did. A lot of times people forget these modern days that we know now, where you can get on an airplane and fly anywhere you want nonstop, direct, and be there — that's recent. That's since what, 1940? Not even that — after the war, it was. And telephones? Forget it. I mean, when I was growin' up, I remember we had a phone in the house, but you had to dial it; and I also remember there was a party line of maybe six other people. And no matter when you got on the phone, you know, there might be somebody else on it. And I never grew up with television. When television first came in, it came on at like four in the afternoon, and it was off the air by seven at night. So you had more time to . . . I guess to think. It can never go back to the way it was, but it was all changing in the Fifties and Sixties.

My kids, they know television, they know telephones. They don't think about that stuff, you know? Even airplanes: I never rode on an airplane until 1964 or somethin'. Up till that time, if you wanted to go across the country, you took a train or a Greyhound bus, or you hitchhiked. I don't know. I don't think of myself as that old, or having seen that much, but . . .

Bob Dylan's Most Inscrutable Lyrics

Do you have MTV at home?
No, I don't get that I have to go to the city to see MTV. And then, once I do find a set that has it, I'll just watch it for, you know, as long as my eyes can stay open. Until they pop out, I'll just watch it.

What do you make of video? Do you think it's all that important?
Uh, to sell records, yeah. But videos have always been around. David Bowie's been makin' 'em since he started. There was one thing I saw on a video, and I thought it was great. Then I heard the record on the radio, and it was nothin', you know? But video does give you something to hook onto.

I was just talkin' to Ronnie Wood the other night. He went to the Duran Duran show at the Garden, and he said it was really funny, because they had a great big screen up over the stage with huge close-ups of the band members. And every time they showed a close-up of somebody in the band, the audience would just go crazy — they'd go mad, you know? So while they were showing a close-up of somebody in the band, the guitar player'd be playing a lick. So he'd think they were all doing it for him. Then he'd play the same lick again to get the same response — and get nothing.

I remember you were trying to get together with Ronnie and Keith [Richards] the other night. How'd it go?
It was pretty subdued, actually. But I always like to see Keith or Woody or Eric or. . . . There's a few people I like to see whenever I can. People who play like that. It has to do with a style of music, you know?

Bob Dylan, at 60, Unearths New Revelations

Do you ever collaborate?
Yeah, but usually it never happens. It's "Okay, that's great, we'll pick that up later and finish it." But nothin' ever really gets finished.

Are your best friends mostly musicians?
My best friends? Jeez, let me try to think of one [laughs].

There must be a few.
Best friends? Jesus, I mean, that's. . . .

You've got to have a best friend.
Whew! Boy, there's a question that'll really make you think. Best friend? Jesus, I think I'd go into a deep, dark depression if I were to think about who's my best friend.

There have to be one or two, don't there?
Well, there has to be. . . . there must be . . . there's gotta be. But hey, you know, a best friend is someone who's gonna die for you. I mean, that's your best friend, really. Yeah, I'd be miserable trying to think who my best friend is.

What do you do with your year, aside from doing an album and maybe a tour?
Well, I'm happy doin' nothin' [laughs].

Photos: Bob Dylan Captured at Home and on the Scene

Do you spend a lot of time in Minnesota?
I get back there when I can, yeah, I got some property outside of St. Paul back in '74, a sort of farm.

Do you actually farm on this farm?
Well, it grows potatoes and corn, but I don't sit on the tractor, if that's what you mean. I'm usually either here or on the West Coast or down in the Caribbean.

Me and another guy have a boat down there. "Jokerman" kinda came to me in the islands. It's very mystical. The shapes there, and shadows, seem to be so ancient. The song was sorta inspired by these spirits they call jumbis.

Do you still have that house in California, that big, strange-looking place?
That's a story — you could write a baroque novel offa that. I had five kids, and I just couldn't find a house that was suitable. I liked this area because there was a public school in the neighborhood, and the kids could ride their bikes to it. So I bought this house on about an acre of land, past Malibu. And my wife looked at it and said, "Well, it's okay, but it needs another bedroom." So I got somebody to design another bedroom. You had to file plans, and they had to be passed — that's the way the red tape is out there. So we had architects come in, and right away they said, "Oh, yeah, Bob Dylan, right. We'll really make somethin' spectacular here." Anyway, it took six months to get the plans passed just to put on another room. I mean, one room. Jesus! So I went out there one day to see how the room was progressing, and they'd knocked down the house. They'd knocked down the house! I asked the guys who were workin', "Where's the house?" And they said they had to knock it down to restructure it for this bedroom upstairs.

Sounds like somebody was making a lot of money off you.
Ain't that the truth? I mean, has it ever been otherwise? So, one thing led to another, and I said as long as they're knockin' this place down, we're just gonna add more rooms on to it. And any time some craftsman passed by — hitchhiking to Oregon or coming back down to Baja — we'd say, "Hey, you wanna do some work on this place?" And they'd do woodwork, tile work, all that kinda thing. And eventually, it was built. But then they closed the school out there, and the kids moved away, and Sara moved away, and, uh. . . . So I was stuck with this place. As a matter of fact, I've never even put anything on the living-room floor. It's just cement.

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Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

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