Sep 12, 2007
I'm still thinking about Scorsese's No Direction Home - likely because I
watched another piece of it, again, last night ... the "Meet the
Dylan was the quintessential anti-interview in the 1960s...
Q - How many protest singers are
A - Dylan - About 136 ...
Q - About or exactly 136?
A - Dylan - 142...
He bristled and laughed at
questions, and pretty much refused to answer them. Most
of this was well-deserved - the questions were vacuous, even
If ever there was an example of the merit of I. A. Richards' advice
that the creator of a work is the last person you should ask about
the meaning of a work, Dylan in the 1960s would be it.
This was the case with Dylan even when he wasn't being sarcastic.
In an early radio interview, he tells Studs Terkel that "A Hard
Rain" is not about atomic rain - it's just about something
important about to come down. I. A. Richards would say
that shouldn't prevent anyone from hearing apocalypse in that
So how seriously should we take Dylan's commentary that is the
backbone of Scorsese's movie? Now in the 21st-century,
Dylan seems to have little problem reflecting honestly on his
work. Actually, I first noticed this in the excellent
interview Dylan gave to Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes a few years ago.
The reasons for the change in Dylan's interview performances are
complex and multiple, like everything else about Dylan. The
questions today are not as stupid as those in the 1960s.
Dylan in the 1990s began to redefine his interviews as part of his
serious creative work - rather than part of his spoofs - likely
because he finally saw them as useful on the path to understanding
himself and his impact, which has always been his goal.
All of which is good for us.