Bob Dylan hasn’t given a lot of interviews in recent years, but with the upcoming release of his first album of new material since 2012’s The Tempest, he opened up in a wide-ranging discussion with The New York Times.
The 79-year-old music icon shares this thoughts on an array of topics, from the death of George Floyd to, oddly enough, his favourite Eagles songs.
Asked if he was surprised when his recent single, the 17-minute “Murder Most Foul”, hit #1 on the Billboard charts, he admitted, “I was, yeah.”
The song contains a head-spinning volume of pop-culture references, including a shoutout to Eagles’ founders Don Henley and Glenn Frey, and he revealed his favourite Eagles tracks to be “New Kid in Town,” “Life in the Fast Lane” and “Pretty Maids All in a Row”, which he declared “could be one of the best songs ever.”
Addressing a question about whether he thinks about his own mortality, he responded, “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.”
Dylan also shares his admiration for the late Little Richard, noting that he “lit a match under me. Tuned me into things I never would have known on my own.”
Watching the horrific video of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, Dylan admitted, “It sickened me no end to see George tortured to death like that. It was beyond ugly. Let’s hope that justice comes swift for the Floyd family and for the nation.”
Discussing the COVID-19 pandemic, Dylan was asked if he sees the it in biblical terms. “I think it’s a forerunner of something else to come,” he explained. “It’s an invasion for sure, and it’s widespread, but biblical? You mean like some kind of warning sign for people to repent of their wrongdoings? That would imply that the world is in line for some sort of divine punishment. Extreme arrogance can have some disastrous penalties. Maybe we are on the eve of destruction. There are numerous ways you can think about this virus. I think you just have to let it run its course.”
Dylan ends the interview by addressing a question about how his health is holding up, and how he keeps his “mind and body working together in unison.”
“Oh, that’s the big question, isn’t it? How does anybody do it? Your mind and body go hand in hand. There has to be some kind of agreement,” he says. “I like to think of the mind as spirit and the body as substance. How you integrate those two things, I have no idea. I just try to go on a straight line and stay on it, stay on the level.”
Dylan’s 40th studio album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, drops on June 19.