Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Reporters Say The Darndest Things: Bob Dylan Interview
Musicians who hit it big during the British Invasion and beyond of the 1960s must have hated press conferences. Journalists during these gatherings - who were often much older than 30 and not familiar with the performer's music - asked the stupidest questions. With the Beatles they almost inevitably, at least during the early years, revolved around their hair. Failing to see the irony in the situation, a reporter actually asked Elvis what kind of questions he hated most to answer at a 1957 press conference.
At least the Beatles had each other and Elvis had the Colonel Tom Parker for support. Bob Dylan was on his own for his press conferences and boy, was the questioning clueless. I'm not a huge Dylan fan, but I've been catching snippets of the Martin Scorsese documentary No Direction Home on PBS, and found his interaction with the press to be most amusing. "Bob Dylan is a poet. He'll answer questions on everything from atomic science to uh...riddles and rhymes" the reporters were told at the start of the press conference in another clip I watched. Oh yeah? The very first question is about a t-shirt he's wearing on a cover of an album that he understandably doesn't remember. You can just see a WTF bubble above his head during these interactions. It seems the reporters just didn't know what to make of Dylan - they were expecting a folk messiah with some sort of mythical insight. What they got was a regular guy who happens to be very talented. One squeeky voiced guy actually starts pointing out to him that he seems to be very reluctant when talking about his songwriting. "Well what do you want me to do?" he asks. "Shout hallelujah and crash the cameras?"
I love his answer to the question about how many other singers are protest singers. "I think there's about 136. It's either 136 or 142." Cracked me up.
I actually think Dylan was kind of cute here. Most impressive hair.