He shared on Facebook: “I love Bob Dylan’s new book The Philosophy of Modern Song. But I have one little bone to pick with the author when he writes ‘Elvis Costello and the Attractions were a better band than any of their contemporaries. Light years better.’ With all due respect to the Attractions and to drummer Pete Thomas in particular, I’d like to say to Bob something he once said to a buddy of mine. ‘Suck a dick.'”
Let me put it to you like this: I can get up all day long and sing songs about God. I love the Lord, and that’s my heart, and that’s my passion, and that’s who I am. It’s my DNA when it comes down to music. I want to always sing songs and introduce people to Jesus Christ. I want to always do that. I want to always have a prayer in my heart, on my lips, to help somebody and to be that beacon of light that somebody might need that might be lost. But at the same time, God gave me a job to go on stage and perform with Bob Dylan. I’m glad Bob was singing his gospel music, and when he started adding some of his other music back in, that was okay with me too.
“Musically, Dylan’s not very gifted; he’s borrowed his voice from old hillbillies. He’s got a lot of borrowed things. He’s not a great guitar player. He’s invented a character to deliver his songs … it’s a mask of sorts.” Why would Mitchell be so gruff with an icon? Likely because he didn’t show her the respect she deserved.
The two have shared the stage on countless occasions
As Springtime in New York, Volume 16 in the Bootleg Series, hits the shelves with a fresh new look at Dylan’s Shot of Love, Infidels and Empire Burlesque, we talk to Steve Berkowitz about put…
Since 1997’s Time Out of Mind, an atmospheric return-to-form after a long period of wandering, death has been Dylan’s chief concern, to the extent that some have read it as a personal obsession. Which, of course, has only aggravated him.
Yes, his recent songs deal with mortality. “But I didn’t see any one critic say: ‘It deals with my mortality’—you know, his own,” Dylan observed. It seems that he has accepted this grievance as an artistic failure and has returned with songs whose subjects cannot be misinterpreted. The last two tracks on Tempest addressed the sinking of the Titanic and the murder of John Lennon—historical events that now exist through a greater cultural consciousness. He continues and improves upon this method throughout Rough and Rowdy Ways, using notes from history to reflect something universal about our own brief, ordinary legacies. “I hope that the gods go easy with me,” he sings in “I’ve Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You.” For a minute, you forget the status of the man singing; his prayer sounds as humble, as fragile as anyone’s.
There is something very consistent in Dylan’s desire to disappear. Terrified of pursuit by fans in his earlier tours, he would jump into hotel cupboards. Craving silence, he wrote in order to hide and he hid in order to write. Then there was the unexplained motorcycle accident which enabled a more total retreat.
The plagiarism of which he is often accused could be seen by a psychoanalyst as a desire for death. But by resorting to “love and theft”, he may be seeking something more subtle; re-entry to folk tradition under “anon” – the heroic anonymity achieved by “Napoleon in rags” or Odysseus seeking home.
Yet he zealously defends his copyrights against digital predators, wanting to be “there” and “not there” at the same time. Paul Morley and John Bauldie capture his multiple masks. The very list of chapters in The Cambridge World of Bob Dylan shows how he opened forms of modern music through ever-changing phases: pop, folk, protest, electro-rock, country, Christian, lounge-bar croon. He invented video (the flash-cards on Subterranean Homesick Blues); and he anticipated punk with his critiques of his own audience (recognising that those who oppose the age penetrate to essence far more than those who merely reflect it)
Read it all at Source: Bob Dylan at 80, by Declan Kiberd: He was so much older then, he’s younger than that now
As a piano accompanist for this long thing with so many words, how do you keep your part interesting? How do you keep yourself engaged for such a long track?In our jazz world, we just lost a dear soul, Chick Corea. I was reading some of his advice that he had typed out for somebody, and one of the things that he said was, “Play so that others sound good as well.” It’s such a beautiful sentiment. Take your ego out of the picture and be there for the song, and be as selfless as you can, and listen and react to what you hear. By reacting, it doesn’t mean you have to play anything. It might mean you play nothing, and then you come in with something.That’s the only way it’s ever worked for me. In my teaching of other musicians, I really stress, don’t listen to yourself. Don’t worry about the notes that you’re playing. It’s okay to hear what you sound like, but in the context of the song and in the context of the band that’s there. You need to be able to not play, as well as play, because that’s what creates the magic.In a recent interview, Fiona Apple said she also played piano on that track. I gather she wasn’t at your session, but when you are listening to it, can you pick out who is doing what, knowing what you played?Yes, I can. Benmont’s on the left, Alan’s on the right, Fiona’s in the middle. It’s like the early days of stereo. It’s a really cool collaboration. She sounded beautiful too.Bringing it all full circle, in your recent sessions with him, is there any acknowledgment of your history in 1978? Are you talking about it at all?No, we don’t. Perhaps if we were to hang out or go back on the road, that stuff would come up, but no. I keep things pretty much in the present tense and just let him know how much I appreciate him and how much I love him and how grateful I am.