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PLAYBOY: When you hear your songs in your mind, it's not just you strumming alone, you mean?

DYLAN: Well, no, it is to begin with. But then I always hear other instruments, how they should sound. The closest I ever got to the sound I hear in my mind was on individual bands in the Blonde on Blonde album. It's that thin, that wild mercury sound. It's metallic and bright gold, with whatever that conjures up. That's my particular sound. I haven't been able to succeed in getting it all the time. Mostly, I've been driving at a combination of guitar, harmonica and organ, but now I find myself going into territory that has more percussion in it and [pause] rhythms of the soul.

PLAYBOY: Was that wild mercury sound in I Want You?

DYLAN: Yeah, it was in I Want You. It was in a lot of that stuff. It was in the album before that, too.

[...] The top ten was filled with that kind of sound - the Beatles, too - and it was exciting, those days were exciting. It was the sound of the streets. It still is. I symbolically hear that sound wherever I am.

PLAYBOY: You hear the sound of the street?

DYLAN: That ethereal twilight light, you know. It's the sound of the street with the sunrays, the sun shining down at a particular time, on a particular type of building. A particular type of people walking on a particular type of street. It's an outdoor sound that drifts even into open windows that you can hear. The sound of bells and distant railroad trains and arguments in apartments and the clinking of silverware and knives and forks and beating with leather straps. It's all - it's all there. Just lack of a jackhammer, you know.

PLAYBOY: You mean if a jackhammer were-

DYLAN: Yeah, no jackhammer sounds, no airplane sounds. All pretty natural sounds. It's water, you know water trickling down a brook. It's light flowing through the…

PLAYBOY: Late-afternoon light?

DYLAN: No, usually it's the crack of dawn. Music filters out to me in the crack of dawn.

PLAYBOY: The "jingle jangle morning"?

DYLAN: Right.

PLAYBOY: After being up all night?

DYLAN: Sometimes. You get a little spacy when you've been up all night, so you don't really have the power to form it. But that's the sound I'm trying to get across. I'm not just up there re-creating old blues tunes or trying to invent some surrealistic rhapsody.

PLAYBOY: It's the sound that you want.

DYLAN: Yeah, it's the sound and the words. Words don't interfere with it. They – they - punctuate it. You know, they give it purpose. [Pause] And all the ideas for my songs, all the influences, all come out of that. All the influences, all the feelings, all the ideas come from that. I'm not doing it
to see how good I can sound, or how perfect the melody can be, or how intricate the details can be woven or how perfectly written something can be. I don't care about those things.

PLAYBOY: The sound is that compelling to you?

DYLAN: Mmm-hnh


DYLAN […] I don't know, maybe I am just an old dog, so maybe I feel like I've been around so long I am looking for something new to do and it ain't there. I was looking for some space to create what I want to do. I am only interested in that these days. I don't care so much about hanging out.

PLAYBOY: Do you feel older than when you sang, "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now"?

DYLAN: No, I don't feel old. I don't feel old at all. But I feel like there are certain things that don't attract me anymore that I used to succumb to very easily.

PLAYBOY: Such as?

DYLAN: Just the everyday vices.

PLAYBOY: Do you think that you have managed to resist having to grow up or have you found a way of doing it that is different from conventional growing up?

DYLAN: I don't really think in terms of growing up or not growing up. I think in terms of being able to fulfill yourself. Don't forget, you see, I've been doing what I've been doing since I was very small, so I have never known anything else. I have never had to quit my job to do this. This is all that I have ever done in my life. So I don't think in terms of economics or status or what people think of me one way or the other.


PLAYBOY: What about your literary influences? You've mentioned Kerouac and Ginsberg. Whom do you read now?

DYLAN: Rilke. Chekhov. Chekhov is my favorite writer. I like Henry Miller. I think he's the greatest American writer.

PLAYBOY: Did you meet Miller?

DYLAN: Yeah, I met him. Years ago. Played ping-pong with him.


DYLAN:[…] Clara represents to Renaldo everything in the material world he's ever wanted. Renaldo's needs are few. He doesn't know it, though, at that particular time.

PLAYBOY: What are his needs?

DYLAN: A good guitar and a dark street.

PLAYBOY: The guitar because he loves music, but why the dark street?

DYLAN: Mostly because he needs to hide.

PLAYBOY: From whom?

DYLAN: From the demon within. [Pause] But what we all know is that you can't hide on a dark street from the demon within. And there's our movie…

posted by Ian 7/10/2003 11:37:00 AM

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