Throughout Bob Dylan‘s illustrious career, the singer-songwriter hasn’t been keen on doing many interviews. However, ahead of the release of his latest album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, Dylan sat down for a rare interview with his friend Douglas Brinkley with the New York Times where he talks about everything from his musical influences to the global pandemic to the killing of George Floyd.
“It sickened me no end to see George tortured to death like that,” he told The New York Times of what happened in his native Minnesota. “It was beyond ugly. Let’s hope that justice comes swift for the Floyd family and for the nation.”
Of course, the conversation focused mainly on music. Dylan spoke about loving the Eagles, wishing he wrote the Rolling Stones’ “Ventilator Blues” and “Wild Horses” and how jazz inspired him. And if you’ve been to one of his live shows, you’ll see how he tends to change up his own songs.
But when asked about improvisation, he said, “…There’s no way you can change the nature of a song once you’ve invented it. You can set different guitar or piano patterns upon the structural lines and go from there, but that’s not improvisation. Improvisation leaves you open to good or bad performances and the idea is to stay consistent. You basically play the same thing time after time in the most perfect way you can.”
At 79, Dylan has seen many recent U.S. history’s big events. And now as the world is dealing with the global coronavirus pandemic and the attempt of getting back to “normal life,” he pondered on whether or not the virus is something bigger than just a new illness.
He said, “I think it’s a forerunner of something else to come. 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. Extreme arrogance can have some disastrous penalties. Maybe we are on the eve of destruction. There are numerous ways you can think about this virus. I think you just have to let it run its course.”
Read more from Dylan’s New York Times interview here.