Bob Dylan rarely gives interviews, but when he does you know it’s going to be full of gold.
Speaking to The New York Times this week, he discusses everything from coronavirus and his own mortality to why he compares himself to Anne Frank and Indiana Jones in his latest music.
“I think it’s a forerunner of something else to come,” the 79-year-old troubadour says about the COVID-19 pandemic. Asked if he saw the virus in “biblical” terms, Dylan rebuked: “It’s an invasion for sure, and it’s widespread, but biblical? You mean like some kind of warning sign for people to repent of their wrongdoings? That would imply that the world is in line for some sort of divine punishment.”
Earlier this year, Dylan announced his latest album Rough and Rowdy Ways. Somewhat unbelievably, it’s his 39th album, the its latest single — ‘I Contain Multitudes’ — is surprisingly autobiographical for such a private musician.
Explaining the lyrics “I’m just like Anne Frank, like Indiana Jones / And them British bad boys, / The Rolling Stones“, Dylan says: “The names themselves are not solitary. It’s the combination of them that adds up to something more than their singular parts.
“To go too much into detail is irrelevant. The song is like a painting, you can’t see it all at once if you’re standing too close. The individual pieces are just part of a whole.”
Prior to ‘I Contain Multitudes’, Dylan shared the sprawling 17-minute single ‘Murder Most Foul‘. The song is scattered with references spanning the past 150 years of American song and political culture.
In our Deep-Dive Analysis of the song, we said: “This is a song of the Facebook and Instagram age, with the ever-elusive Dylan interweaving people, places, objects and artwork references to suggest he is a man of complexities and contradictions.”