Michael Moore: Bob Dylan Loved 'Fahrenheit 9/11'

"He just kept going on and on about the importance of 'Fahrenheit 9/11,'" says filmmaker of 2005 meeting with Dylan

Michael Moore recalls a 2005 meeting with Bob Dylan, during which the singer-songwriter praised 'Fahrenheit 9/11.' Credit: Dylan: Christopher Polk/Getty

About 10 months after Michael Moore's 2004 documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, hit theaters, the filmmaker travelled up to the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, to check out a Bob Dylan concert. "We were about five rows from the stage," says Moore. "I guess he saw me from the stage, and as we were leaving, the road manager came out and said, 'Bob wants to meet you.' It was really quite the moment."

Moore — whose new documentary, Where to Invade Next, hits theaters on February 12th — is a lifelong Dylan fan, but this was the first time the filmmaker got a chance to actually meet him. "He started talking about Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11," he says. "He goes, 'You won the Oscar for Bowling for Columbine, but I think you should have gotten it for Fahrenheit 9/11 too.' He just kept going on and on about the importance of Fahrenheit 9/11. I've only met one or two people in my life where you're in that moment and it really feels like a religious experience."

A poster for Bob Dylan's concert at Quebec City's Colisée de Québec on November 29th, 1975, is framed near Moore's kitchen. He travelled to the Rolling Thunder Revue show with his buddies when he was just 21. "It was Thanksgiving weekend in America, not Canada, and they had only announced it the day or so before," he says. "We drove overnight from Flint all the way to Quebec City. It was amazing. In a couple of my films, I wanted to use his songs, and they'd always grant my request."

Just two months before the Dylan show in 1975, Moore saw Bruce Springsteen at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on the Born to Run tour. "To all of us who grew up in the Flint, Michigans of the world, he's the real deal," says Moore. "One time after Roger and Me came out, I went with a bunch of friends to see him at the Palace of Auburn Hills. We were up in the pre-nosebleed section. When he finished a song, he went, 'Michael Moore, this is for you.' One of my friends just couldn't stop crying. I really think he'll be written about one day the same we write now about Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan."

Moore got the rights to Bruce Springsteen's "My Hometown" pretty easily for Roger and Me, but had a bit more trouble when he tried to secure David Bowie's "Panic in Detroit" for his 1997 documentary, The Big One. "Whoever determines these things initially turned us down," says Moore. "I finally just made a call to David myself and he gave me the song. I've read stuff since his death saying that he wasn't that political and he stayed away from politics. But that wasn't the conversation that I had with him. ... We live in a better world as a result of the Springsteens and the David Bowies and the Dylans."