Bob Dylan’s latest, Together Through Life, arrives today, but while critics are hailing this fresh batch of hardened, urgent songs, much of the advance chatter surrounding the album centers on the involvement of Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter.
“Hunter is an old buddy,” Dylan explains in our next cover story, which hits newsstands this week. Dylan and Hunter collaborated on 10 songs, all but one of the album’s tracks. “We could probably write a hundred songs together if we thought it was important or the right reasons were there,” Dylan tells Rolling Stone. “He’s got a way with words and I do too. We both write a different type of song than what passes today for songwriting.”
Dylan and Hunter collaborated before on “Silvio” and “The Ugliest Girl In The World” for Dylan’s 1988 album Down In The Groove. The pair’s latest efforts, however, mark Dylan’s deepest work with a collaborator since his 1976 album Desire, which saw Dylan team with Jacques Levy for all but two songs.
Dylan explained his creative partnership with Hunter to RS contributor Doug Brinkley, a noted historian and Rice University professor who’s also profiled Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut and Ken Kesey for RS. Brinkley interviewed Dylan for our new issue, which arrives this week. During their conversation, Dylan kept the door open to future collaborations with Hunter. “I think we’ll be writing a couple of other songs too for some off-Broadway play,” Dylan says.
Rolling Stone issue 1078 hits newsstands this week, and look for more from Dylan — including more from our exclusive interview, and a look back at his past RS covers — throughout the week here on RS.com. In the meantime, check out David Fricke’s four-star review of Together Through Life.