A classic interview.
Dylan entered the room fifteen minutes late, dressed in black and white and looking like a gentleman from the Old West. Those assembled were seated on sofas; Dylan sat opposite them, bolt upright on the very edge of his seat, behind a wall of microphones and tape recorders. The questions covered a wide range of topics and were not merely confined to Love and Theft. What is astonishing about this recording is the relaxed atmosphere, the ease with which Bob chats almost intimately with those gathered, and most notably, the sense that he is actually enjoying the conference, an attitude far removed from the mans notorious dislike of press interviews. The material he discusses is fascinating and offers at least a glimpse of where Bob Dylan was at at this juncture in his career something that no previously recorded interview with the man has even hinted at.
Hotel de la Ville
23 July 2001
Press conference with reporters from Austria, Britain, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Holland, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
GC: There must be records that you consider better than others, though.
BD: I don’t listen to them because I don’t think the songs were ever done perfectly. I often think a song wasn’t recorded perfectly or at least not in the way I heard the song in my head. Six or seven months later the song would be released in the way it was. By people I had trusted. It happened too many times. I’m often asked how I can be such a bad judge of my own material, that I don’t put the best things on the records. I don’t know how anyone can judge which song is better than another. I don’t judge the material, more or less I like to put anything on the record. It happened with Time Out of Mind. It wasn’t recorded particularly well but luckily it wasn’t released immediately so I was able to record it again from the start. But years ago that could never have happened.
Basically I sing a song. I strum around on the guitar. In recorded technology, that’s called making demos. It’s no accident that other singers have had better hits with my songs than I have. That’s no accident, because they’ve sensed there’s a structure to them, and there is. I’ve never been allowed to develop that, working with slipshod producers or fakes or a bunch of nonentities. “And so be it! I was still willing to allow that to happen and I could go onstage and rectify it. So what I’m saying is that songs need structure, stratagems, codes and stability. And then you hang lyrics on them. I’m speaking here as someone who sings a song that’s written. And when we transfer all that to the stage, that’s where all that comes into play. They don’t come into play on a record ‘cos my cohorts at the time never really sought to develop any of that stuff and I can’t do it at the time of recording ‘cos the song at the time is new to me.