Bob Dylan gave his first interview for the first time for more than three years to discuss a new album, Rough and Ready Ways.
The interview with Douglas Brinkley published in The New York Times is actually excerpted from two conversations he had with Dylan — the first in April and the second from a couple of weeks ago — that discussed the new album. Because the first two preview tracks, “Murder Most Foul” and “I Contain Multitudes,” mention Eagles and the Rolling Stones, Brinkley asked Dylan about his favorite songs by those artists.
“Maybe ‘Angie,’ ‘Ventilator Blues’ and what else?” Dylan responded about Stones songs. “Oh yeah, ‘Wild Horses.'” For Eagles, he cited “New Kid in Town” and “Life in the Fast Lane” as favorites, adding that Joe Walsh‘s “Pretty Maids All in a Row” “could be one of the best songs ever.”
Revealed back in March, Dylan’s 17-minute “Murder Most Foul” adopts the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as an opportunity to explore 60 years of history and pop culture. “I Contain Multitudes,” on the other hand, looks through. Dylan admitted that it wasn’t difficult to even the slighter early verses with what Brinkley called the “take-no-prisoners stoicism” of the last two.
“It’s the kind of thing where you pile up stream-of-consciousness verses and then leave it alone and come pull things out,” Dylan said. “In that particular song, the last few verses came first. So that’s where the song was going all along. Obviously, the catalyst for the song is the title line. It’s one of those where you write it on instinct. Kind of in a trance state. Most of my recent songs are like that. The lyrics are the real thing, tangible, they’re not metaphors. The songs seem to know themselves and they know that I can sing them, vocally and rhythmically. They kind of write themselves and count on me to sing them.”