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Bob Dylan, Recovering Christian

Page 9 of 9

Since you've spent a lot of time in the Caribbean, you must be familiar with Rastafarianism.
Not really. I know a lot of Rastas. I know they're Bible-believing people, and it's very easy for me to relate to any Bible-believing person.

Well, what if someone is born in a place where there are no Bibles — the Tibetan mountains, say. Could they still be saved?
I don't know. I really don't. Allen Ginsberg is a Tibetan — a Buddhist, or something like that. I'm just not familiar enough with that to say anything about it.

Speaking of Allen Ginsberg, doesn't the Bible say that homosexuality is an abomination?
Yeah, it does. It says that.

Photos: Bob Dylan's 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue

And yet Ginsberg's a good guy, right?
Yeah, well, but that's no reason for me to condemn somebody, because they drink or they're corrupt in orthodox ways or they wear their shirt inside out. I mean, that's their scene. It certainly doesn't matter to me. I've got no ax to grind with any of that.

Were you up in Minnesota when they tried to pass that antiporn law in Minneapolis? The contention was that pornography is a violation of women's civil rights. What do you think?
Well, pornography is pretty deeply embedded. I mean, it's into everything, isn't it? You see commercials on TV that millions of dollars have been put into, and they look pretty sexy to me. They look like they're pushin' sex in some kinda way.

In a way, that's the real pornography, because the point isn't to get you off sexually, it's to sell you something.
Yeah, it's to stick the idea in your brain. But it's too far gone. I mean, if you start makin' laws against porno magazines and that kinda stuff, well, then where do you draw the line? You gotta stop the prime-time television shows also.

Photos: The Evolution of Bob Dylan

Any thoughts on abortion?
Abortion? I personally don't think abortion is that important. I think it's just an issue to evade whatever issues are makin' people drink about abortion.

Well, I mean, when abortion's used as a form of birth control. . . .
Well, I think birth control is another hoax that women shouldn't have bought, but they did buy. I mean, if a man don't wanna knock up a woman, that's his problem, you know what I mean? It's interesting: They arrest prostitutes, but they never arrest the guys with the prostitutes. It's all very one-sided. And the same with birth control. Why do they make women take all them pills and fuck themselves up like that? People have used contraceptives for years and years and years. So all of a sudden some scientist invents a pill, and it's a billion dollar industry. So we're talkin' about money. How to make money off of a sexual idea. "Yeah, you can go out and fuck anybody you want now; just take this pill." You know? And it puts that in a person's mind: "Yeah, if I take a pill. . . ." But who knows what those pills do to a person? I think they're gonna be passé. But they've caused a lot of damage, a lot of damage.

So it's the man's responsibility? Vasectomy's the best way?
I think so. A man don't wanna get a woman pregnant, then he's gotta take care of it. Otherwise, that's just ultimate abuse, you know?

But the problem is not abortion. The problem is the whole concept behind abortion. Abortion is the end result of going out and screwing somebody to begin with. Casual sex.

But the abortion question is: Is it taking a life? Is it a woman's decision?
Well, if the woman wants to take that upon herself, I figure that's her business. I mean, who's gonna take care of the baby that arrives these people that are callin' for no abortion?

In regard to these feminist sympathies . . .
I think women rule the world, and that no man has ever done anything that a woman either hasn't allowed him to do or encouraged him to do.

In that regard, there's a song on Infidels called "Sweetheart Like You," in which you say, "A woman like you should be at home . . . takin' care of somebody nice."
Actually, that line didn't come out exactly the way I wanted it to. But, uh . . . I could easily have changed that line to make it not so overly, uh, tender, you know? But I think the concept still woulda been the same. You see a fine-lookin' woman walking down the street, you start goin', "Well, what are you doin' on the street? You're so fine, what do you need all this for?"

A lot of women might say they're on the street because they're on the way to their jobs.
Well, I wasn't talkin' to that type of woman. I'm not talkin' to Margaret Thatcher or anything.

The Greatest Bob Dylan Covers

Are you in love at the moment?
I'm always in love.

Would you ever marry again? Do you believe in the institution?
Yeah, I do. I don't believe in divorce. But I'm a strong believer in marriage.

One last question. I think a lot of people take you for a pretty gloomy character these days, just judging by your photos. Why reinforce that image by calling this latest album Infidels?
Well, there were other titles for it. I wanted to call it Surviving in a Ruthless World. But someone pointed out to me that the last bunch of albums I'd made all started with the letter s. So I said, "Well, I don't wanna get bogged down in the letters." And then Infidels came into my head one day. I don't know what it means, or anything.

Don't you think when people see that title, with that sort of dour picture on the front, they'll wonder, "Does he mean us?"
I don't know. I could've called the album Animals, and people would've said the same thing. I mean, what would be a term that people would like to hear about themselves?

How about Sweethearts?
Sweethearts. You could call an album that. Sweethearts.

With a big smiling picture?
Yeah.

See all of our Bob Dylan at 70 coverage here.

This story is from the June 21st, 1984 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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