Bob Dylan Reflects on COVID-19, George Floyd, the Eagles and New Album ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’ in Rare New York Times Interview

Rock Cellar Magazine StaffCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

Bob Dylan rarely does interviews — part of his mythical allure stems from his unique manner of conducting himself — but fresh off his 79th birthday in late May, he granted one this week to pal Douglas Brinkley of the New York Times.

The chat is geared around the upcoming release of Dylan’s new album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, which will be released on June 19. Dylan revealed the track listing on Friday:

The record, Dylan’s first album of original material in eight years, was previewed in recent months with a trio of songs, including the intriguing “False Prophet”:

The New York Times interview finds Bob Dylan at his best in terms of providing answers that take the reader in a variety of directions, the legendary songwriter speaking as only he can to questions he’s asked.

The interview was conducted in two parts: The first in mid-April as the COVID-19 pandemic changed our collective way of life, and the second on May 26, just one day after the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis — and Dylan had something to say about that:

“It sickened me no end to see George tortured to death like that,” he said. “It was beyond ugly. Let’s hope that justice comes swift for the Floyd family and for the nation.”

In the chat, Dylan mentions how surprised he was that “Murder Most Foul,” his 17-minute epic about the JFK assassination, turned out to be his very first Billboard No. 1 hit:

When asked about mortality, a topic breached in his new song “I Contain Multitudes”:

I think about the death of the human race. The long strange trip of the naked ape. Not to be light on it, but everybody’s life is so transient. Every human being, no matter how strong or mighty, is frail when it comes to death. I think about it in general terms, not in a personal way.

Other topics covered in the chat include the recent deaths of Little Richard and John Prine and Dylan’s thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic as a sort of ‘biblical plague’ of sorts, among many other topics of note.

Interestingly, when Brinkley asks about Dylan’s mention of Don Henley and Glenn Frey of the Eagles, who are name-dropped in “Murder Most Foul.” Dylan’s response cites his favorite Eagles songs, “New Kid in Town,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” and “Pretty Maids All in a Row,”which he says “could be one of the best songs ever.”

In all, the New York Times interview with Bob Dylan is a masterful read, a rare glimpse of insight provided by Dylan, who remains an untouchable cultural icon of the highest degree.

Read the full interview here. 

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