The Austin Interview
22 Sep 1966 Austin Texas
Published in "Retrospective" ed. by Craig Mcgregor as "An interview in Austin Texas" Reprinted in "Bob Dylan" by Miles; also reprinted in "Positively Tie Dream" (Ashes and Sand 1979)(date given as Summer 1965)

Reporter: What do you consider yourself? How would you classify yourself?

Bob Dylan: Well, I like to think of myself in terms of a trapeze artist.

Reporter: Speaking of trapeze artists, I've noticed in some of your recent albums a carnival-type sound. Could you tell me a little about that?

Bob Dylan: That isn't a carnival sound, that's religious. That's very real, you can see that anywhere.

Reporter: What about this "Ballad of a Thin Man"? This sounds as though it might have been dedicated to a newspaper reporter or something.

Bob Dylan: No, it's just about a fella that came into a truckstop once.

Reporter: Have the Beatles had any influence on your work?

Bob Dylan: Well, they haven't influenced the songs or sound. I don't know what other kind of influence they might have. They haven't influenced the songs or the sound.

Reporter: In an article in "The New Yorker," written by Nat Hentoff, I believe, you said you sang what you felt and you sang to make yourself feel good, more or less. And it was implied that in your first two albums you sang "finger-pointing songs," I believe.

Bob Dylan: Well, what he was saying was, I mean, I wasn't playing then and it was still sort of a small nucleus at that time and by the definition of why do you sing, I sing for the people. He was saying, "Why do you sing?" and I couldn't think of an answer except that I felt like singing, that's all.

Reporter: Why is it different?

Bob Dylan: Come on, come on.

Reporter: What is your attitude toward your "finger-pointing" songs? He implied that you thought they were just superficial.

Bob Dylan: No, it's not superficial, it's just motivated. Motivated. Uncontrollable motivation. Which anyone can do, once they get uncontrollably motivated.

Reporter: You said before that you sang because you had to. Why do you sing now?

Bob Dylan: Because I have to.

Reporter: Your voice in here is soft and gentle. Yet in some of your records, there's a harsh twang.

Bob Dylan: I just got up.

Reporter: Could you give me some sort of evaluation as far as your own taste is concerned, comparing some of the things you did, like old music, say, "Girl from the North Country," which I consider a very beautiful- type ballad? Perhaps some of the things that have come out in the last couple of albums--do you get the same satisfaction out of doing this?

Bob Dylan: Yeah, I do. I wish I could write like "Girl from the North Country." You know, I can't write like that any more.

Reporter: Why is that?

Bob Dylan: I don't know.

Reporter: Are you trying to accomplish anything?

Bob Dylan: Am I trying to accomplish anything?

Reporter: Are you trying to change the world or anything?

Bob Dylan: Am I trying to change the world? Is that your question?

Reporter: Well, do you have any idealism or anything?

Bob Dylan: Am I trying to change the idealism of the world? Is that it?

Reporter: Well, are you trying to push over idealism to the people?

Bob Dylan: Well, what do you think my ideas are?

Reporter: Well, I don't exactly know. But are you singing just to be singing?

Bob Dylan: No, I'm not singing to be singing. There's a much deeper reason for it than that.

Reporter: In a lot of the songs you sing you seem to express a pessimistic attitude toward life. It seems that "Hollis Brown" gives me that feeling. Is this your true feeling or are you just trying to shock people?

Bob Dylan: That's not pessimistic form, that's just statement. You know. I'm not pessimistic.

Reporter: Who are your favorite performers? I don't mean folk, I mean general.

Bob Dylan: Rasputin . . . Hmmm . . . Charles de Gaulle . . . the Staple Singers. I sort of have a general attitude about that. I like just about everybody everybody else likes.

Reporter: You said just a minute ago you were preparing to go to classical music. Could you tell me a little about that?

Bob Dylan: Well, I was going to be in the classical music field and I imagine it's going right along. I'll get there one of these records.

Reporter: Are you using the word classical perhaps a little differently than we?

Bob Dylan: A little bit, maybe. Just a hair.

Reporter: Could you explain that?

Bob Dylan: Well, I'm using it in the general sense of the word, thumbing a hair out.

Reporter: Any attention to form?

Bob Dylan: Form and matter. Mathematics.

Reporter: What is your belief in God? Are you a Christian?

Bob Dylan: Well, first of all, God is a woman, we all know that. Well, you take it from there.

Thanks to Kaliph