Source: Evening Chronicle, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
~Date: 4 May 1965
Author: Fred Billany
Interview date: Savoy Hotel, London, (May 1965?).
BOB DYLAN is the folk singer whose exotic songs, mostly written by himself,
carry a plea for freedom in the widest possible sense.
The support he commands from millions of young people both here and in America has developed into a cult which challenged the ecstatic admiration accorded to the Beatles.
Twenty-three-year-old Bob Dylan - he appears in Newcastle on Thursday - is the symbol of a restless age, a 1965 phenominon, who has described himself as a wondering troubadour linking the poetry of his songs with times of disillusionment.
He says he has no philosophy about anything. I talked to this shambling, tousle haired young man at the Savoy Hotel, London. He wore jeans, boots, an open-necked shirt, the colours of which rival anything a rainbow can produce.
There seemed never to be a second when a cigarette was not between his lips and he cheerfully admitted that he smokes at least 80 a day.
"I have no message for anyone," he told me. "My songs are only me talking to myself."
As he spoke he moved nervously from foot to foot, as if he were starting the first steps of a jig. "I don't want to influence people in any way. It is other people who influence me about life."
He is conscious of the fact that he is a performer who is not without his critics, of whom he declares: "They would lose their jobs if they did not criticise something."
But he came to Britain last week knowing that he has filled the Albert Hall with his supporters on two consecutive nights. There was almost a public riot to get tickets to hear him and it is the youngsters who will pack this vast and historic hall when Dylan walks on stage to sing.
Bob Dylan has a thin and pale face with sad blue eyes. He was born on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, a former mining town in Minnesota.
He ran away from home at least seven times and eventually went to live in South Dakota and New Mexico. he studied at Minnesota University but it was an uneasy relationship with his tutors.
IN NEW YORK
After six months he left going to New York to see his lifelong idol Woody Herman (sic), the notable American musician and lyricist.
Dylan sang in Greenwich Village and then someone at the BBC heard about him and brought him to London to appear in the television production of "Mad House in Castle Street."
He also appeared in London clubs, later returning to Britain to sing at a Festival Hall concert which is almost scorned by his admirers.
What makes Dylan tick? What is his appeal?
There is a hint of foreboding in his songs which give them a strange appealing note. However, some of his words to my mind at least, can be a little incomprehensible. But there is little to puzzle anybody in the song, "The times they are a-changin'." Dylan sings:
"the order is rapidly changing,
He has the power to make an audience listen. "They do not scream and yell while he is singing. His very presence disciplines them into silence and the cheers and applause come only at the end of each number.
Dylan's voice has a dry and bitter quality. He has been identified as a champion of civil rights (some of his songs are about this subject) but ask him to talk about politics and he gives a short sharp reply which indicates in no uncertain manner that he is not very fond of the subject.
Some of his songs tell of the world after the atom bomb and he has written one about boxers who get killed while fighting in "the square ring."
Yet Dylan now says he is "bored by the atom bomb" and also with the American Government.
He told me that one of this main aims in life is "to get a glimpse of everything, the good things and the bad things."
Does he ever worry and if so what about? "I worry about keeping my sanity but my idea of sanity maybe different to that of other people."
Later Dylan said: "I'm on my own. I don't want to hurt anybody. I just go along. I'm not going anywhere but I'm changing."
For a second or two I thought he was quoting from one of his new songs.
Dylan may be best summed up in his own words: "You either love or hate me."
One thing is certain: you can't ignore him. He is a remarkable fellow.