Bob Dylan has a lot in mind

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A few years ago, sitting under shade trees in Saratoga Springs, New York, I had a two-hour chat with Bob Dylan who talked about Malcolm X, the French Revolution, Franklin Roosevelt and World War II. At one point, he asked me what I knew about the Sand Creek massacre in 1864. When I replied, “Not enough,” he got up from his folding chair, got on his tourist bus, and returned five minutes later with photocopies of how American troops massacred hundreds of peaceful Cheyenne and Arapahoe in southeastern Colorado.

Given the nature of our relationship, I felt comfortable contacting him in April after, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, he unexpectedly released his epic 17-minute song “Murder Most Foul”, on the Kennedy assassination. Although he had not conducted a major interview outside of his own website since winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016, he accepted a telephone conversation from his home in Malibu, which turned out to be his only interview before next Friday’s publication of “Raw and rowdy tracks,“His first album of original songs since” Tempest “in 2012.

Like most conversations with Dylan, “Rough and Rowdy Ways” covers a complex territory: trances and hymns, provocative blues, desires of love, comic juxtapositions, jokes, patriotic ardor, sniping constancy, lyrical cubism, twilight reflections and spiritual contentment.

In the high octane showstopper “Goodbye Jimmy Reed”, Dylan pays homage to the Mississippi bluesman with ferocious harmonica riffs and debauchery lyrics. In the slow blues “Crossing the Rubicon”, he feels “the bones under my skin” and thinks about his options before death: “Three miles north of Purgatory – one step from the great beyond / I prayed the cross and I kissed the girls and I crossed the Rubicon. ”

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