80 Lines: Bob Dylan

4 min readMay 25, 2021

Compiled by Saswat Pattanayak

Bob Dylan is remembered for his poetry. To commemorate his 80th birthday, I thought to focus on his prose instead. I have ardently studied his interviews because they reflect the limitlessness of his expressions; his spoken words are spontaneous and follow no rules ordinarily associated with musical recordings. Below, I have (randomly) selected about 80 lines from among the various chats he has had with journalists over the decades. Here they are, in no particular order. The interviewers include Jonathan Cott (Rolling Stone), Ron Rosenbaum (Playboy), John Cohen (Sing Out!), Happy Traum (Sing Out!), Toby Creswell (Rolling Stone, Australia), and Robert Hillburn (LA Times).

Words by Bob Dylan.

“Think about the periods when people don’t do anything,
or they lose it and have to regain it,
or lose it and gain something else.
So its taken me all this time,
and the records I made along the way were like openers
trying to figure out whether it was this way or that way,
just what is it, what’s the simplest way I can tell the story and make this feeling real.

New York died late to middle sixties. Mass communication killed it.
It turned into one big carnival sideshow…
The atmosphere changed from one of creativity and isolation
to one where the attention would be turned more to the show.

Songs are a funny thing.
If I didn’t have the recording contract and I didn’t have to fulfill
a certain amount of records, I don’t really know
if I’d write down another song as long as I lived.
I am just content enough to play just anything I know.
But seeing as how I do have this contract,
I figure my obligation is to fill it,
not in just recording songs, but the best songs I can possibly record.

You read about these rebels in the cartoons,
people who were rebels in the twenties, in the thirties,
and they have children who are rebels, and they forget that they were rebels.
Do you think that those who are rioting today
will someday have to hold their kids back from doing the same thing?


Journalism, Psychology, Photography