Saturday, January 16, 2016

Bob Dylan quotes: he who's busy being born




There's no black and white, left and right to me any more; there's only up and down and down is very close to the ground. And I'm trying to go up without thinking about anything trivial such as politics. They has got nothing to do with it. I'm thinking about the general people and when they get hurt.
Address to the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee (13 December 1963)

a poem is a naked person . . . some people say that I am a poet

Reporter: How many people who labor in the same musical vineyard in which you toil - how many are protest singers? That is, people who use their music, and use the songs to protest the, uh, social state in which we live today: the matter of war, the matter of crime, or whatever it might be.
Bob Dylan: Um...how many?
Reporter: Yes. How many?
Bob Dylan: Uh, I think there's about, uh...136.
Reporter: You say about 136, or you mean exactly 136?
Bob Dylan: Uh, it's either 136 or 142.
Press conference in Los Angeles, California (17 December 1965), as seen and heard in No Direction Home.

Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb.
Heard in the D. A. Pennebaker documentary Dont Look Back (1967)

God, I'm glad I'm not me.
Said when reading a newspaper article about himself in Dont Look Back (1967)

Chaos is a friend of mine.
Newsweek (9 December 1985)


I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.
Interview published with the Biograph album set (1985)






The first two lines, which rhymed 'kiddin' you' and 'didn't you,' just about knocked me out, and later on, when I got to the jugglers and the chrome horse and the princess on the steeple, it all just about got to be too much.
Discussing the song "Like a Rolling Stone" in Rolling Stone magazine (1988)

People today are still living off the table scraps of the sixties. They are still being passed around — the music and the ideas.
The Guardian (13 February 1992)

That ear - I mean, Jesus, he's got to will that to the Smithsonian.
In reference to Brian Wilson, Newsweek (1997)

Because Dickens and Dostoevsky and Woody Guthrie were telling their stories much better than I ever could, I decided to stick to my own mind.
Liner notes, The Bootleg Series Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964 (2004)

We may not be able to defeat these swine, but we don't have to join them.
As quoted in Kingdom of Fear (2003) by Hunter S. Thompson

Sometimes you say things in songs even if there's a small chance of them being true. And sometimes you say things that have nothing to do with the truth of what you want to say and sometimes you say things that everyone knows to be true. Then again, at the same time, you're thinking that the only truth on earth is that there is no truth on it. Whatever you are saying, you're saying in a ricky-tick way. There's never time to reflect. You stitched and pressed and packed and drove, is what you did.
Chronicles: Vol. One (2004)

The road out would be treacherous, and I didn’t know where it would lead but I followed it anyway. It was a strange world ahead that would unfold, a thunderhead of a world with jagged lightning edges. Many got it wrong and never did get it right. I went straight into it. It was wide open. One thing for sure, not only was it not run by God, but it wasn’t run by the devil either.
Chronicles: Vol. One (2004)





I put one on the turntable and when the needle dropped, I was stunned — didn't know whether I was stoned or straight.
Referring to the first Woody Guthrie record he ever heard, on Chronicles (2004)

Morality has nothing in common with politics.
Chronicles: Vol. One (2004)

I had ambitions to set out and find, like an odyssey or going home somewhere… set out to find… this home that I’d left a while back and couldn’t remember exactly where it was, but I was on my way there. And encountering what I encountered on the way was how I envisioned it all. I didn’t really have any ambition at all. I was born very far from where I’m supposed to be, and so, I’m on my way home, you know?
No Direction Home (2005)

You can't be wise and in love at the same time.
No Direction Home (2005)


He's a pinboy. He also wears suspenders. He's a real person. You know him, but not by that name... I saw him come into the room one night and he looked like a camel. He proceeded to put his eyes in his pocket. I asked this guy who he was and he said, "That's Mr. Jones." Then I asked this cat, "Doesn't he do anything but put his eyes in his pocket?" And he told me, "He puts his nose on the ground." It's all there, it's a true story.
When asked about the meaning of the song "Ballad of a Thin Man" during a 1965 interview.






I don't call myself a poet, because I don't like the word.
Said at a press conference, as seen in the Martin Scorsese documentary No Direction Home

I don't believe you! You're a liar! … Play it fucking loud!
Dylan's response to the shout of "Judas" by a heckler, followed by his instructions to his band over the count-in to "Like A Rolling Stone." Heard on The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966

I read On the Road in maybe 1959. It changed my life like it changed everyone else's.
On the influence of Jack Kerouac on him, as quoted Grasping for the Wind : The Search for Meaning in the 20th Century (2001) by John W. Whitehead

Someone handed me Mexico City Blues in St. Paul [Minnesota] in 1959 and it blew my mind. It was the first poetry that spoke my own language.
On the influence of Jack Kerouac, as quoted in Jack Kerouac (2007) by Alison Behnke, p. 100

It’s not a character like in a book or a movie. He’s not a bus driver. He doesn’t drive a forklift. He’s not a serial killer. It’s me who’s singing that, plain and simple. We shouldn’t confuse singers and performers with actors. Actors will say, “My character this, and my character that.” Like beating a dead horse. Who cares about the character? Just get up and act. You don’t have to explain it to me.
. Bob Dylan, interview with Bill Flanagan. telegraph.co.uk (13 Apr 2009)

It's peculiar and unnerving in a way to see so many young people walking around with cellphones and iPods in their ears and so wrapped up in media and video games. It robs them of their self-identity. It's a shame to see them so tuned out to real life. Of course they are free to do that, as if that's got anything to do with freedom. The cost of liberty is high, and young people should understand that before they start spending their life with all those gadgets.
Rolling Stone #1078 (14 May 2009), p. 45



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