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Another Look at Bob Dylan

NEWSWEEK's David Gates joined us for a Live Talk on Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 1 p.m. ET, as he discusses Bob Dylan's new book and his attempt, at long last, to explain himself to us. Read the transcript below

 
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Newsweek

Bob Dylan's forthcoming book, "Chronicles," may be a detour from his regular work. But it's hardly an arty curiosity like his post-Beat, all-lowercase 1966 novel "Tarantula." It's an attempt by the most influential cultural figure now alive to give us a straightforward look at his life. "Chronicles" is neither a cradle-to-one-foot-in-the-grave autobiography nor a true memoir, tightly focused on a single crucial period. Instead, it is an evocation of his early days in Greenwich Village, chapters on the genesis of two lesser-known albums, "New Morning" (1970) and "Oh Mercy" (1989), and a section on his forced retreat from his own celebrity. The Biblical title made intuitive sense to Dylan. " 'Chronicles' just means—I'm not sure what it means"—he laughs—"but it would seem to be some kind of thing where you can make right use of the past." NEWSWEEK's David Gates, who interviewed Dylan in a motel room at an undisclosed location, joined us for a Live Talk on Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 1 p.m. ET, to discuss Dylan's attempt, at long last, to explain himself to us. Read the transcript below.

October 4, 2004 Issue: Bob Dylan Opens Up
The Book of Bob
Bob Dylan is about to publish a remarkably candid, long-awaited memoir. He gave us the first excerpt, and we sat down for an extraordinarily wide-ranging talk
Book Excerpt: 'On the Run'
By the late '60s, Dylan had been anointed—by whom and as what, he didn't know. An exclusive excerpt on the infuriating, dizzying wind tunnel of fame
David Gates
, a NEWSWEEK senior writer since January 1993, covers books and music for the magazine. He has also written a number of major stories, incluchicading the October 13, 1997 cover on Dylan, "Dylan Revisited" in which he interviewed the singer after a near-fatal illness and a near-terminal career slump as he released the album "Time Out of Mind" Gates joined NEWSWEEK as a correspondent in the Letters department in October, 1979. He became a researcher in 1983, was promoted to associate editor in 1987, and named general editor in 1986. He is the author of the novels "Jernigan" (Knopf, 1991), shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize and "Preston Falls" (Knopf, 1998), shortlisted for the National Book Critics' Circle Award, and the short-story collection "The Wonders of the Invisible World" (Knopf, 1999), also shortlisted for the NBCC Award.

Story continues below ↓
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Milwaukee, WI: David, I've heard you say that Dylan was not part of the '60s counterculture in his own opinion. Did he find it difficult being a poster child for that same culture, which he didn't even seem to understand?

David Gates: hellishly difficult. check out the book excerpt, in which he says 'it would have driven anybody mad.'

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Grand Marais, MN: Why do you think Dylan thinks it's important for people to know his real self through 'Chronicles'? Isn't enough of himself expressed in his songs?

David Gates: it's not expressed very directly. I see the songs— hope this doesn't sound pretentious—maybe a sort of counternarrative. this is the literal story, as he told me in the interview. as to why, and why now— don't think  can say for sure, but  think ALL of us want to be known to others.

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Martindale, TX: Did Bob share any details with you regarding the songs for his next album? What's the scoop?

David Gates: really only that he's working on them. he did say he's written a song based on melody from a bing crosby song, 'where the blue of the night meets the gold of the day.' how much it'll actually sound like that is anybody's guess.

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Washington, DC: First: I live in DC, but I am from Germany and actually learned English translating Dylan songs. Shows you that you can fall in love with America by embracing the counterculture first. My question: Dylan is less evasive than usual in his book, but he does largely dodge three important personal topics: His motorcycle accident in 1966 (was it a pretext to sober up?), his first divorce and his Christian phase. Did you ask him about that? What did he say?

David Gates: no, and perhaps  should have. but we had a lot to talk about in a couple of hours.

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Pittsburgh, PA: David, Does Dylan risk being further misunderstood by writing this book? He is a songwriter after all. Without the skills of a seasoned prose writer, his memoirs may be misunderstood.

David Gates: well, we all risk being misunderstood when we try to explain ourselves. but  think he's pretty direct in the memoir, and he doesn't claim to be a seasoned prose writer. he knows songwriting is the thing for him.

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Chicago, IL: In your article you alluded to Mr. Dylan praising Willie Nelson. What did he say about Willie? Will they tour together again any time soon?

David Gates: i'm not sure, but his website (or willie's) might show that. one thing he said about willie was that you can listen to him sing the same songs night after night and never get tired of them. and of course that he's a master guitarist.

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West Palm Beach, FL: Dylan seems like an extremely difficult interview subject, even all these years later. What was the game plan for your session with him, and did you approach the interview with any trepidation?

David Gates: didn't find him at all difficult. as with anyone, there are places you sense that might be uncomfortable, but he was remarkably forthcoming, and very welcoming.  think that perception of him as a tough interview goes back to the sixties when people thought he was a freak and he reacted offputtingly. he might, in fact, be the best interview subject i've ever had.

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Grand Rapids, MI: Will the film 'Eat the Document' be released anytime soon? I mean, it can't be that embarrassing.

David Gates: don't know. isn't it available someplace, maybe online?  suspect it's been shown from time to time.

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Boston, MA: David, we all know Dylan's penchant for twisting an interview or a situation for his own needs—sitting and talking to the man, did you get the impression that he was being totally forthcoming with you, or was he answering your questions with a some separation from his true feelings?

David Gates: most interviewees have some agenda—they'd be nuts not to. but  didn't sense much of that with him at all.  thought he was quite forthcoming, and open to questions—which he truly tried to answer thoroughly and searchingly. he was amazingly good interview,  my impression was that he was saying what truly was in his heart and mind, though none of us tell ALL of that.

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Grand Rapids, MI: I hear he plays golf and is a big baseball fan. He still into chess?

David Gates: sounds like you know more about that than  do. my knowledge pretty much stops with that song 'catfish.'

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Phoenix, AZ: Was Dylan referring to "Nashville Skyline" and "Self Portrait" in your interview when he spoke of trying to alter perceptions of himself?

David Gates: yes, and to 'dylan,' the outtakes from 'self-portrait.'  take it that the 'chekhov' album was 'blood on the tracks,' though he didn't explicitly say so.

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Dallas, TX: Hi David, Did any of Bob's wonderful sense of humor come out during the interview and by chance did you talk to him at all about "Masked and Anonymous" the film that he did last year? It's out on DVD now, any chance we'll see "Renaldo and Clara" released on DVD as well?

David Gates: yeah, he was in good mood and (as  indicated) laughed quite a bit. don't know about those dvds, and we didn't talk about 'masked.'

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Sumner, WA: Did Dylan indicate what subjects the other two volumes of "Chronicles" would cover?

David Gates: he does have 'blood on the tracks' stuff and material about 'freewheelin' and his walking off the ed sullivan show, which, by the way, he regrets having done. what else he's written, or might plan to write,  don't know. he remembers quite a bit about the 'blonde on blonde' sessions in nashville, and  wouldn't be surprised to see that.

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Framingham, MA: I am a bit shocked at Mr. Dylan's dismissal of the pivotal historic events of the '60s (assassinations, etc.). I always felt it was remarkable that "Love & Theft" was released on 9/11/01. And that "Not Dark Yet" is hauntingly prophetic. And yet, he sounds practically oblivious to these global matters. Does he seem that way in person? Tell me it isn't true!

David Gates: he's certainly not oblivious.  think it's just that he doesn't consider himself a political pundit or spokesperson—a person who pretends to have answers—but a songwriter. he seems to follow the news—we shared a little joke about the apparently forged bush documents.

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Wilmington, MA: Dylan is obviously out publicizing his book. This seems so out of character for him. What was your impression of his motives?

David Gates: think it's pretty straightforward: he told me he hopes people read the book, and doing an interview could help. he spoke of himself several times as a performer, which suggests to me that, as private as he is, he also wants to be known. that actually seems IN character.

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Ada, MI: My guess is that you are as affected by his music as the rest of us fans. Was it intimidating to meet him the first time?

David Gates: yeah,  revere his music completely. it was disorienting at first to be sitting there and suddenly to think, my god that's HIM. but he put me at ease by being straightforward, and of course we were both there to do what we've done before.

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Newcastle, England: Did Dylan give any impression that he is concerned about how "Chronicles" will be received by the literary establishment?

David Gates: no. he doesn't claim to be a professional writer.  have no idea if he'll read his reviews.

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Dallas, TX: David, Why Sean Penn for the audio book? Was anyone else considered? Are he and Dylan friends?

David Gates: sorry, don't know.

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Pittsburg, KS: Are Bob and Joan Baez still close friends?

David Gates: no idea, but  doubt it.

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Tampa, FL: How did Bob Dylan turn into Vincent Price

David Gates: vincent price! (i'm a fan.) there's one person who hasn't yet shown up in a dylan song, as far as  know. a neglected opportunity.

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San Diego, CA: How does Dylan choose the musicians who play backup in the studio and on tour? Who are they?

David Gates: carefully. you can probably find the personnel on his website—or on those sites that run down the set lists for every concert. great players.

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Gloucester, MA: I know this is a long shot, but is there any chance of book signings?

David Gates: i'd very much doubt it.

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Watertown, WI: A biography I read seemed to suggest that some of the political songs he wrote, especially in the 60s, were geared to sell records to the disenfranchised youth of the era. During his career, did he ever find himself writing songs that were especially poetic or political simply in order to move records, or did he stay true to a primarily honest artistic vision? For reference, the book is "Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan" by Howard Sounes.

David Gates: no,  don't think that every entered his mind. he certainly wanted to be popular, but like any artist with any sense (and integrity), i'm sure he realized he couldn't do that by calculation and watching the marketplace.

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Salt Lake City, UT: David, I howled when I saw the picture in Newsweek of Bob by the junk cars and the byline which read: "Bob at home in California" what's the story?

David Gates: bob at home in california, that's all  can tell you.  haven't been out there, but if he didn't truck those junk cars in for the photo—which  highly doubt—it must be a little like living in a dylan song.

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Westwood, MA: Does Bob use a ghostwriter? These excerpts sound somewhat like Clinton's book—almost like they were recorded. I know both men supposedly wrote them themselves but ... Also, how do you interpret the "memories"—can it be that he really remembers what Dave Van Ronk was wearing forty years ago? Or is it glossed over invention? Does he keep a journal or is he reinterpreting past events?

David Gates: no, definitely no ghostwriter. simon and schuster edited, advised and cut, but didn't add anything. he told me he didn't keep journals, but he was able to remember stuff, and sometimes talked to people who'd been around at the time, which helped jog his memory.

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Denver, CO: How long will we have to wait another year for Vol. 2?

David Gates: probably even he doesn't know. given how long this took him, he may be in no hurry to get right back on it.

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San Diego, CA: David, Any indication that Bob's memoirs will cover any of his contemporaries, i.e. Jerry Garcia?

David Gates: he said subsequent volumes could include some better-known people than the folks in this volume, but he didn't specify. of course i'd love to read about 'em.

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Andes, NY: This was the second time you interviewed Dylan. Did he remember you and did it seem easier than the first time? You say he was laughing and seemed quite forthcoming, but was there any subject he refused to talk about. And did he talk about his writing routine at all, re: the memoir, of course being a completely different genre than songwriting?

David Gates: yeah, he remembered me and our conversation quite well. it did seem a bit easier. he didn't refuse to deal with anything  asked him about. he talked some about songwriting—for instance, he says he gets the melody first and plays (or works) around with words. sometimes he listens to different things—e.g. bing crosby—to give him ideas. he also said he finds writing 'ballads' more difficult than his uptempo pieces.

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Buenos Aires: David, Great article, fantastic interview with a true enigma (for now at least). I'm curious ... what did dylan say, if anything, about his relationship with the Grateful Dead-esque following he has enjoyed for much of the last decade or so of the neverending tour? There are the many internet concert sites, bootlegs, etc.

David Gates: we didn't talk about it.  should think he's very happy to have people paying such attention to his music.

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San Jose, CA: One thing I've wondered for years is why—what with all the money Dylan must make from his albums, royalties and people covering his songs—he continues to tour so much. On some of the many occasions I've seen him perform, while I enjoyed the show, he didn't seem to be having a great deal of fun.

David Gates: his stage demeanor may be misleading.  get the impression that touring and performing is hugely important (and pleasurable) for him. he's very concerned with how it sounds, and with giving people an emotional reaction to the music. also, more simply, it's what he DOES—as he says, 'what  was put here to do.'

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New York, NY: Any chance we will ever get to hear the audio of your interview? That would be something!

David Gates: nope. sorry.

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New York, NY: I wonder, given that Bob is in his 60's now, does he ever think about retirement? And how does he maintain his energy level to do so many shows at his age?

David Gates: no, no talk at all of retiring. don't know where he gets the energy, except that doing the shows must GIVE him energy. "feel like a fighting rooster, feel better than  ever felt."

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Desert Hot Springs, CA: Mr. Gates: You make reference to "a motel room someplace in the Midwest." Although you cannot reveal the location, can you disclose the approximate date when the interview was conducted? I was in St. Louis at the beginning of March to see Dylan and was wondering if the interview was done around that time as that is when Bob was touring the Midwest. Andrew Carroll.

David Gates: the interview took place last monday—a week before the piece hit the stands.

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Casper, WY: Was there anything pivotal, that helped him break out of the "downward spiral"

David Gates: i'm sure there must have been, but he didn't specify.

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Albuquerque, NM: Is he married?

David Gates: don't know.  suspect not, but that's just a guess.  tried (and it wasn't hard) to stay off his strictly personal life. part of his reticence about this  think must have to do with what he went through in the late '60s—check out the book excerpt.

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Old Bridge, NJ: In the excerpt from Dylan's book he claims that he had the album "Dylan" which were outtakes from his album "Self Portrait" released to help demystify himself. Isn't it true that Columbia released that album because Dylan left the label and they wanted to get product on the market?

David Gates:
i've heard that, yes—or even that they wanted to punish him. but that's not the way he tells it, and  have no idea what sort of control he had over 'dylan' contractually.  have to say,  kind of like 'dylan.'

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Santa Clara, CA: Are you the same David Gates from BREAD?

David Gates: nope. different guy.

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Monaca, PA: Apart from the normal interviewing stuff, what question have you always wanted to ask Bob, but never have... for whatever reason.

David Gates: great question.  don't have one at the top of my list, no. but i've got many roiling around. more having to do with music, actually, than with his personal life, for some reason. though  would like to know much more about his christian conversion.

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Portland, OR: What was the deal with that Victoria's Secret ad?

David Gates: don't know.  enjoy little mysteries like that, or the "dharma and greg" appearance—and  think  enjoy them more AS mysteries.

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Somerville, MA: What was the most poetic thing he said (inadvertently) during your talks? Or the most memorable/dylanesque...

David Gates: don't know inadvertent it was, but when he said that thing about having wanted to write and perform 'the sun and the moon,'  thought that was marvelous. it was like something out of blake.

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Santa Rosa, CA: Just curious if the two of you had lunch and what was on the menu for the day?

David Gates: no, just coffee. plenty of coffee. milk no sugar.

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New York, NY: How long did the interview last? He seemed to enjoy talking about the book, judging from your article, did the interview continue longer than planned?

David Gates: a couple of hours. he was pretty tightly scheduled, and that was plenty of time to cover what needed to be covered.

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Glen Head, NY: Any idea how he spends the daytime on his tour? I mean he stays at wonderful places, e.g. Switzerland. Looks out of the window with the Alps and the lake in front of him. What is he doing during the day? Writing the book on a balcony?

David Gates: no.  wish  knew. in our previous interview he told me about putting up in motels in little towns in the south while on the road, letting the band go ahead to the next gig, doing some writing, walking the streets.  like that image.

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Bethesda, MD: I've seen him perform over many years and the concerts I saw this year were among the strongest he has ever done. Do you think he believes he is now at the height of his powers as an artist? He is obviously older but some nights, his readings of the old songs are astonishing. This is the best he has ever been. Do you have any sense if he knows how good the touring is since he is not drawing the huge crowds of long ago?

David Gates: had the impression that he's pretty happy about his current music and shows, though like anybody else who's serious, he'd like to make it still better.  agree that he's doing amazing things these days. i'd even agree that he's at the height of his powers—except if you go back and listen to earlier stuff, he's ALSO at the height of his powers. he's had a lot of powers over the years.  do find myself listening most to his latest stuff these days. as  type this,  have 'love and theft' on.

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Mahwah, NJ: Dear David: Thanks for the great interview, and for doing this today. On current tours when Bob is introduced, there is mention of his "having found Jesus." Subsequently, however, he has been associated with Judaism. In your interview, did you get any feeling for whether religion in general, and Judaism, in particular, plays any part in his daily life? Thanks

David Gates: my pleasure—as you can imagine. thanks for the kind words. we didn't talk about religion, so  have no idea where he is with that now.

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Boston, MA: What's next on his press junket? Leno? Regis? NPR?

David Gates: don't know of anything else.  did get the impression he doesn't like going on tv.

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Lexington, MA: Is bob dylan a happy person? I know he was on the day you interviewed him, but such a feeler must be troubled, I would think...

David Gates: eat question. yeah, anybody who feels must sometimes feel pain. in the previous interview  did with him, he talked about feeling like a different person from day to day, even hour to hour. maybe that's an answer.  should think most people feel that way.

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Columbus, OH: In Bob's mind what is he? Poet, prophet, singer ... what does Bob think he is?

David Gates: definitely a songwriter, singer and performer.

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Beverly Hills, CA: How is Dylan's relationship with his son Jakob? Any word on what he thinks of his boy's (let's face it) mediocre music?

David Gates: don't exactly know what he thinks about the music, except that it's not HIS music.  have the impression the personal relationship is good, but it's not something he likes to talk about.

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Knightdale, NC: What is your favorite Bob Dylan album?

David Gates: whatever one i'm playing, pretty much. these days  tend to play 'love and theft,' 'time out of mind' and 'infidels,' and the third volume of 'the bootleg series.' but also 'shot of love' and 'slow train coming.' 'blood on the tracks' is often too intense for me to listen to.

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Oklahoma City, OK: My husband and I recently attended a Bob Dylan concert in Oklahoma City. We anticipated the concert for months. We were bitterly disappointed, finding Bob Dylan to be very "crowd unfriendly", saying very little to the crowd and not even introducing his band members until the encore. We were also bitterly disappointed to hear only one song from the early "Rolling Stone" days. Having attended all types of concerts over the last 30 years, I would venture to say that this was the worst. Funny thing, Joan Baez we rate as one of our best concert memories.

David Gates: too bad. i've been overwhelmingly impressed with his recent concerts, purely in terms of the music. he doesn't generally talk a lot to the crowd, probably because he doesn't have much to say, and because he's very much concentrated on the music.  think he wants and expects his audiences to focus on the music and not him as a personality. he talks about wanting to move people emotionally, and it's a shame it didn't work for you. you might give him another shot. he's starting a tour again in october.

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Beverly, MA: During your time in his presence, was he approached by any one? How does he deal with the 'ohmygodyourebobdylan!' people?

David Gates: no, we were well isolated in that room.  haven't been with him in public, so  don't know how he deals with that.

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Providence, RI: Did he make any reference to the new technologies, i.e., mp3, sacd, etc? Does he find these things as good or bad for him as an artist or performer?

David Gates: no,  don't think he's too interested in the details of technology.

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San Diego, CA: I've heard from others around him that his personal hygiene is lacking, to say the least ... i.e. long dirty fingernails, bad B.O., etc. Was he a clean man?

David Gates: yeah, all the times i've seen him. he had on a white t shirt, and it WAS white. not so easy, as  know from experience.

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Minneapolis, MN: Dylan must be constantly asked for interviews. How did you get so lucky? Why Newsweek?

David Gates: long story. part of it, i'm sure, had to do with our previous cover. "lucky" is the word.

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Singapore: Hello Mr Gates, I enjoyed your interview and article very much. Thanks. One early reaction to the book, or at least the extract, seems to be: "Wow, this sounds like a regular guy. Nothing terribly cryptic or unfathomable a la Tarantula even if he's left a few big gaps in the narrative on subjects everyone was interested in." Did you get any sense in your interview that perhaps this surprising plain-spoken writing style was yet another example of Bob Dylan going out of his way confound expectations? Also, was there anything in your interview that was completely "off the record". (If indeed you are able to answer that question in the light of the secrecy over the motel location.)

David Gates: no, he said nothing off the record.  don't think the book was about confounding expectations— think he simply wanted to look back and tell some of his story.

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Long Island, NY: Hi David. My name is Tom. Some say Bob Dylan is 5'5". Others say he is closer to 5'10". What was your impression? Thanks in advance.

David Gates: hmm. five eight? five nine? maybe five seven? he's not tiny, and he's shorter than  am (5-11).

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Chicago, IL : Dylan says he experienced an artistic dry spell between the time of Woodstock and the release of "Time Out Of Mind." How, then, does he rate such highly regarded works as "Blood On The Tracks" and "Slow Train Coming?"

David Gates: he didn't talk specifically about them. but since he often does older songs in concert,  assume he's not as dismissive as he might have seemed to be. they're great albums, and i'm sure he must know that.

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Portland, OR: How do you think Dylan's music has influenced and impacted the culture and music of today?

David Gates: e impact is huge,  think, beyond what we can recognize right now. just in terms of music, as far as  know he was the first to make art songs out of rock and roll—which is now what just about every serious band does. that alone is pretty staggering.

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New York, NY: When you met Dylan in that motel room, did he seem eager to talk to you or was he uncomfortable? If you recall in "Don't Look Back," Dylan dressed down a writer from Time magazine I believe. And he didn't have kind words to say about Time and NEWSWEEK.

David Gates: yeah, but that was many years ago. he seemed very glad to talk, and very comfortable. of course we'd had a good interaction seven years ago, so that helped.

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Knoxville, TN: I have been a devotee of Dylan's since 1965, when I was 15. I related to him. He was Jewish from a small town in the Midwest and I was Jewish from a small town in the South. I was crushed when he became Christian. In recent years I've heard he's a Jew again. Is this true?

David Gates: that's what you hear, but we didn't talk about it.

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East Brunswick, NJ: Hi. Does Bob have a certain charisma that is unique to him from your experiences interviewing other people?

David Gates: great question. it's impossible to tell how much is his charisma, and how much is your awareness that he's bob dylan. but there is something magnetic about him that seems to me independent of his celebrity and his accomplishments.

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Leicester, England: Humor has been present in a huge of Dylan's songs from his early days right up to "Love and Theft," which is packed with great "one-liners." Has Dylan managed to capture any that humor in the writing of "Chronicles?"

David Gates: yes, in places it's very funny. not maybe as systematically as in the songs, but it's there.

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Houston, TX: Hey David, I remember reading your last article on Bob Dylan, in '97 when he was on the cover. My question is this: does Mr. Dylan have anything, uncryptic to say about this year's Presidential race? Thanks.

David Gates: didn't ask.  have plenty uncryptic to say on my own dime, but this isn't the time or place.

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Knightdale, NC: Any chance of a tour with Ratdog in the future? The tours with Phil and Friends and the Dead seemed to be successful and it is always the most fun to see him with the Deadheads as opposed to a stuffy sit-down crowds!

David Gates: don't know, but nothing would surprise me.

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Knightdale, NC: What has been your favorite band on the road and what has been your favorite tour? Thanks Bob!!

David Gates: tough one.  saw him with the band in,  think, 66—before they were called that—and that was great. the bucky baxter/larry campbell configuration was great, also the larry campbell/charlie sexton. haven't heard the latest, but  hear it's wonderful.

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Brooklyn, NY: Bob has always blown me away when in tours such as 1974 with the Band or the Rolling Thunder tour where he came out with just himself, guitar and harmonica. Is there any chance of him ever doing small venues with just him, his guitar and harmonica again?

David Gates: don't know. i'd be surprised if he did a tour without a band, though he'll probably do solo segments.

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Knightdale, NC: There was talk of some type of HBO show a couple years ago. Has this been shelved?

David Gates: dunno. there's that movie in the works, where a series of actors play him at various stages. there's also an authorized documentary in the works, maybe coming out next year.

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Orange County, CA:
Do you think that, with each subsequent volume of "Chronicles," Dylan will jump around and focus on other significant phases of his career? Is it just his unconventional nature to touch on each part of his life in a random, non-chronological order?

David Gates: he says he may.  think what ended up in the book was a result of what was uppermost in his mind, and what turned out to be most writable and publishable. he says he's written much more.

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Lewisville, TX: If Bob had not had the cycle accident he would have been at Woodstock. He would have been more famous than he is even now. Does he regret not being at Woodstock?

David Gates: don't think he does at all. check the excerpt out—he doesn't sound as if he was eager.

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Fountain, FL: In his autobiography or his talks with you has he ever discussed his own experiences with psychedelics and marijuana. Does he acknowledge the profound effect that they had on the renaissance of art & music in the 1960s?

David Gates: no, we didn't get into that. it's a huge and fruitful topic.

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New York, NY: What's the reason Dylan plays keyboards now and no guitar?

David Gates: he told me a lot about that. basically it has to do with his guitar not giving him quite the fullness of sound he was wanting at the bottom. (six strings on a guitar, ten fingers on a piano.) he's thought of hiring a keyboard player so he doesn't have to do it himself, but hasn't been able to figure out who—most keyboard players, he says, like to be soloists, and he wants a very basic sound. he says he wants to tweak the sound some, because he's not quite satisfied with how the guitars and keyboard are sounding together.

© 2006 Newsweek, Inc.
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