Bob Dylan gave his first TV interview in almost twenty years tonight, to Ed Bradley on Sixty Minutes.
It was an interesting few moments with Dylan. I found the most interesting comment where he was talking about how his early songs just came to him and how he can’t hope to write those kinds of songs now, but that now he can do different things (though Bradley didn’t ask him what he can do now that he couldn’t then – that would’ve been interesting).
“I don’t know how I got to write those songs. Those early songs were almost magically written,” says Dylan, who quotes from his 1964 classic, “It’s Alright, Ma.”
“Try to sit down and write something like that. There’s a magic to that, and it’s not Siegfried and Roy kind of magic, you know? It’s a different kind of a penetrating magic. And, you know, I did it. I did it at one time.”
Does he think he can do it again today? No, says Dylan. “You can’t do something forever,” he says. “I did it once, and I can do other things now. But, I can’t do that.”
I find Dylan’s protestations that he never meant to be seen as a spokesperson for his times to be more than a little disingenuous. I mean, really – if he wanted to just be a “song and dance man” he could’ve been singing standards instead of writing Blowin’ in the Wind. And his earliest career moves were to emulate Woody Guthrie – the man who had “This machine kills fascists” written large on his guitar. Those are not the actions of someone shirking from making a statement.
“My stuff were songs, you know? They weren’t sermons,” says Dylan. “If you examine the songs, I don’t believe you’re gonna find anything in there that says that I’m a spokesman for anybody or anything really.”
“But they saw it,” says Bradley.
“They must not have heard the songs,” says Dylan.
If you can find a video of the interview it’s worth a look – there is supposedly some video available on the 60 Minutes site, but I couldn’t get it to work on my Powerbook. I imagine the interview will be available on the major file-sharing networks too.