(What was it you wanted? #3)

Hughes: Sometimes when you speak, it's as though words are energy and too many words are wasted energy which could be better put into your songs. Is that how you feel?

Dylan: Absolutely, yeah. I seldom talk. I seldom like to talk to anybody also because it's false, because when you talk and you speak, that's all that's all you're doing. And it has to be direct. I can't do it in any other way unless it's direct. And most people don't want to be direct... you find yourself drifting.

Hughes: Into social conventions of communication?

Dylan: Yeah, into opinions and ideas. I don't care about those things ..... (pause) .... I do and I don't.

Hughes: Or do you care about them if they have feelings to back them up?

Dylan: Well, feelings, yeah, and experience. If they have experience to back them up alright. It's like somebody telling you about Australia is one thing, but you being there and seeing it for yourself is another. I don't like to be told things.

Hughes: Do you think that you've got to be selfish and shut everything off in order to write?

Dylan: I think so, don't you?

Hughes: Yeah, but don't you find that paradoxical?

Dylan: To what?

Hughes: Communication.

Dylan: Well, you need something to communicate to so ... no I don't think so at all.

Hughes: What kind of outlet does touring provide for you?

Dylan: It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't do it. Since I was just a kid, just a little kid, I used to watch touring bands come through my home town. It always seemed like that was where to go. And the only escape out of it was to get down to the bus ...

Hughes: What about now then?

Dylan: It's the same thing.

Hughes: Ray Davies once said about touring "when I tour I realize that I have to communicate with the outside. If I don't have an audience and I just write, my mind meanders round and round the subject, but when I know I have to communicate it to people, it goes straight to the subject. So I like to tour". Would you agree with that?

Dylan: I would agree to that. I like to sing to the people. I just don't like to sing into microphones in a studio.

Hughes: Many people who come to your concerts here regard it as a kind of pilgrimage. Most would like to meet you. What do you feel you have to offer your fans on this kind of individual level?

Dylan: In India they have men that live in the Himalayas and people make long journeys to sit at their feet. And what happens when they sit at their feet? Nothing. Nothing happens, they're usually given a big dose of silence.

Hughes: That's an answer of a kind, throwing it back at the questioner?

Dylan: I don't know whether that's an answer. Sometimes it's better to be quiet than to make a lot of noise; because when you're quiet, you're usually more in tune with the birds and the bees and the phantoms of life.

Hughes: Do you meditate?

Dylan: Oh, I know a little bit about these things, but I don't follow any daily ritual.

Hughes: You can't see any parallel between your fans seeking a private audience with you and the time long ago when you went to visit Woody Guthrie in a New Jersey hospital?

Dylan: No, when I went to see him there wasn't many people seeing him. He was sick. No one had heard of him in those days, except just a few people who played folk music. So I went to see him, and it wasn't like seeing the king you know.

Hughes: What kind of feeling have you been getting back from the audiences in Australia?

Dylan: ....... (long pause) ........ That they understand without having to be told what it's all about, what the music's all about. Why I'm different from all the rest of the groups of people playing around. I mean, I mean I've been at this now a long time. What usually happens is that you are at it until someone else comes along, and I'm still at it. And I'm still going to be at it until someone else comes along.

Hughes: But surely no one else ever comes along that's the same?

Dylan: Well, that's true, but usually the way things go is that someone else comes out, out of the crowd, of considerable ability who can cover what you're doing and take it another step ..... (pause) .... When the fire's burned out, I'll just be doing this until the fire's burned out. Muddy Water is still playing, he's 65-66.

Hughes: Do you think you can stand it that long, the touring?

Dylan: If those people can do it, I don't see why I can't do it.

Hughes: Yeah, it doesn't take a lot out of you, physically?

Dylan: Well, it takes more out of you when you're young because you don't know yourself that well. If you're dealing in the whole and not just fragments I don't see why you can't last as long as you want to last. It's not uncommon to be 65 to 70. Muddy Waters, I keep coming back to Muddy Waters because ... Lightning Hopkins was very old. I don't know how old he is cause he doesn't really say, but he's gotta be beyond 50. Bill Munroe is still going and he's in his fifties.

Hughes: How does the audience reaction here in Australia compare with Japan, New Zealand and the United States?

Dylan: The States I can't tell you, I haven't been in the States with this show, I've been in the States many times. In Japan they were very reserved, as if something was destroyed. I don't know what. Well, you know what, I know what, Everybody know what it was. Yeah, they were very reserved, but maybe there was a language barrier. There probably was, I don't see how there couldn't be really. But they were great, they got better and better with every show.

Hughes: What about New Zealand?

Dylan: New Zealand was an outdoor show. We played one outdoor show in New Zealand and the audience was very supportive.

Hughes: Did you like New Zealand as a country?

Dylan: Well, I was only in Auckland, but the sky was deep and ...

Hughes: They have mountains and sea together.

Dylan: Yeah, the flowers are strange and the birds were interesting. I have never seen those kind before.

Hughes: Do you find that touring gives you a more direct communication and therefore speeds up the creative process?

Dylan: One feeds the other.

Hughes: You were saying touring was a way of getting out of where you lived in Minnesota.

Dylan: Well, it was an escape, it was like sitting all day ... like when the train rolled through town you always looked at those faces that were peering out of the windows.

Hughes: Yeah, like when you sit in airports and see all those people going.

Dylan: Yeah, it was like that, that was it.

Hughes: How do you feel about Minnesota now, do you feel some kind of attraction?

Dylan: Yeah, I still go back now and then.

Hughes: Because you've got some land there haven't you?

Dylan: Yeah, I still know some people there, I go back every now and then.

Hughes: Do you still go to class reunions?

Dylan: No, I don't do that.

Hughes: You did once?

Dylan: I went to one in er... I did go to one, I went to the 10th one.

Hughes: When was that, in 63?

Dylan: 1969, I justed poked in, poked my face in.

Hughes: Do you draw much these days?

Dylan: No.

Hughes: Why not?

Dylan: Time.

Hughes: Would you like to?

Dylan: Yeah.

Hughes: What kind of satisfaction do you get out of it?

Dylan: One time I was doing it all day for a couple of months in New York. This was a couple of years back, it was 74/75. I did it every day from eight till four with a break or something, and it locked me into the present time more than anything else I ever did. More than any experiences I've ever had, any enlightenment I've ever had. Because I was constantly being intermingled with myself and all the different selves that were in there, until this one left, then that one left, and finally I got down to the one that I was familiar with.

Hughes: Who are your friends these days?

Dylan: I just have the same old friends that I've always had. People who are akin to me. None of my friends look at me in awe, there's no one hanging around me that thinks I'm the leader. It's hard to explain who they are; they're just people; people like you and me.

Hughes: You're working very hard at the moment, what are you working on?

Dylan: Trying to get another album organized.

Hughes: Can you tell me something about the songs and ideas involved?

Dylan: They're hard to define. Some ballads, some narrative ballads, and some which aren't. I don't really write about anything. I don't know where these come from. Sometimes I'm thinking in some other age that I lived through. I must have had the experience of all these songs because sometimes I don{t know what I'm writing about until years later it becomes clearer to me.

Hughes: Do you find that as a composer, you're more like a medium, tuning into something greater happening?

Dylan: I think every composer does that. No one in his right mind would think that it was coming from him, that he has invented it. It's just coming through him.

Hughes: What kind of force compels you to write?

Dylan: Well any departure, like from my traditional self, will kick it off.

Hughes: How do you go about composing these songs, working them out?

Dylan: Well, I usually get a melody. A melody just happens to appear as I'm playing and after that the words come in and out. Sometimes the words come first.

Hughes: Does it come quickly or do you have to work on it?

Dylan: Well sometimes it doesn't come quickly and other times it does come very quickly. I've written songs in five minutes complete, other songs I've had laying around for months.

Hughes: Does it relate to anything going on outside of you?

Dylan: No, just when I have the time to finish it or the inspiration or whatever it needs to finish it.

Hughes: Previously when you recorded you just used to go into the studio and do it once - put down each track completely with no overdubbing.

Dylan: I still do that

Dylan at this point noticed my copy of Brian Vesey- Fitzgerald's "Gypsys of Britain" lying on the coffee table, which he picked up, became quickly absorbed, flipping through the pages, taking in the contents with astounding speed. Occasionally he stopped at significant points, while still continuing with the interview, for closer scrutiny and comment

Yeah in the gypsy way of life, death is a very happy thing.

Hughes: It's nice. Lots of nomadic cultures are like that.

Dylan: Yeah, I can see that point of view.

Hughes: Didn't you once visit a gypsy king in the south of France?

Dylan: Yeah, he was an old man at this time and the person I went to see him with knew him when he was young, not young but 10 years earlier, when he was still vital and active. And at that time he had maybe 16 to 20 wifes and over 100 children. At the time we saw him He'd had a heart attack so the smell was all around and most of his family abandoned him. 15 or 16 of his wifes had left him and gone, and he only had about 2 or 3 children there, so he was pretty much alone. But he still had his scene going; he was into dealing in antiques and junk-metal junk.

Hughes: Getting back to the album, is there anything else you can tell me about it?

Dylan: Is this your book? You didn't bring it for me, did you?

Hughes: No, but you can have it, would you like it?

Dylan: Sure, I'd appreciate it.

Hughes: What kind of arrangements will you be using?

Dylan: Well, they're all new songs, very simple arrangements.

Hughes: Similar to what you've done in the past?

Dylan: Yeah, the arrangements are ...

Hughes: You're not going to change drastically like Joan Baez has on her last album, more towards funk?

Dylan: I didn't think it was all that funky. Oh, maybe it was for her ... (pause) ... Funk is not something that you capture on record, funk is a way of life. It's a way you feel, you can't just make a funky sounding record. But I know what you mean. Funk has to do with throwing coins into the coffin, that kind of thing.

Hughes: Throwing coins into the coffin?

Dylan: Yeah, funk has to do with different beliefs.

Hughes: Do you think there's still a lot to say about people that hasn't yet been said?

Dylan: Individual people, yeah, but not people in general. Yeah, you can go on and on about individual people because of the really different characteristics and different attitudes of many people. And then of course once you get two people together there's some different types of relationship between different types of people. There are many different levels of how people can relate to one another. Some are casual, some are business, some are adventurous, and some are romantic, some are ...

Hughes: So that what you choose to be involved in?

Dylan: Well, I'm just aware of the different areas of relationships.

Hughes: Do you think that films are an ideal medium to explore that?

Dylan: I do, yeah.

Hughes: What's the significance of the title Renaldo & Clara?

Dylan: Well, people keep asking me that. There isn't any more significance to that than what's the significance to Queen Jane, why she had that name. Tolstoy wrote a book called "Anna Karenina" and what was the significance of that name? Renaldo is a fox and Clara is supposedly the clear understanding of the future which doesn't exist.

Hughes: What kind of relationship do you have with women?

Dylan: What kind of relationship?

Hughes: How do you view women, what do you get out of relationships with women, do you think that they're equal or ...

Dylan: Well, I do think that everybody's equal, but I get past the attraction kinds rather quickly. I don't have time for that any more.

Hughes: And then what?

Dylan: How many relationships can you really have in your life and what kind are they?

Hughes: Why I brought that up was because the other night you were saying how difficult you found it to have girl-friends because they always had to fit into YOUR life. And I was wondering if, given your belief in equality, you should expect that?

Dylan: No, but anyone who is in my life at all respects that. That I don't come home every night.

Hughes: You seem in your songs to have a capacity to love many women. Would you like to have many wifes, like the gypsy king?

Dylan: Well, yeah, I'd like to have a wife for every degree.

Hughes: Do you have a home?

Dylan: A home? I don't have all mu possessions in any one place. My clothes are all over the place, but I thrive in different places. I'd love to have a home somewhere ideally.

Hughes: It can be a person or a feeling or a ....

Dylan: You know that old corny saying "a home is where the heart is"?

Hughes: It's true.

Dylan: (nods).

Hughes: You once said after visiting Rubin Carter in prison that you left knowing that "this man's philosophy and my philosophy were running on the same road, and you don't meet too many people like that". Well, how do you feel about your fans who buy your records? Surely there's some kind of empathy there?

Dylan: I'm not sure if they think like me. They might feel as I do, but thinking like me? I don't think we can talk about thought, we just have to talk about feeling. I'm only dealing in the feeling aspect. I'm only dealing with feelings that seem to be unbreakable and the people that follow me and feel that way, feel that. And that is what I think combines everything.

Hughes: Do you think that in any way the public and the press have made you into something you're not?

Dylan: Uh, no, I don't think the public are that gullible. If I wasn't doing what it is that they think I'm doing, I'm sure that no amount of press would be skilful enough to say that I was. What do you think of this shirt?

Hughes: I like the penguins, where did you get it?

Dylan: Off the street.

Hughes: Here?

Dylan: Yeah.

Hughes: Are you going to wear on stage tonight?

Dylan: This shirt with the penguins? No, I don't wear my street clothes on the stage any more.

Hughes: Do you have a designer?

Dylan: Somebody made up all these clothes. I just got too depressed having to go on in my street clothes all the time.

Hughes: What's the name of your designer?

Dylan: A guy in L.A. named Billy, he designed these clothes.

Hughes: I was wondering if you exercise a lot? Is your body in good shape?

Dylan: I hope so ... I'm running around so much you know that I guess ... I don't know, [ .... ] I can't remember ...

Hughes: In the songs that you've been writing, have you written anything about your experiences in Australia?

Dylan: No, not as a traveler. I haven't had that much time to experience too much.

Hughes: Have you managed to hear any live bands or artists while you've been here?

Dylan: No, just on television. But a couple of the guys went to see this guy, Dave Warner, and somebody managed to get a taped cassette and it sounded pretty good.

Hughes: Have you heard Richard Clapton at all?

Dylan: Yeah, I heard Richard Clapton in Auckland. I liked him very much. In fact I tried to get him on the bill for Australia, because you know what the law says that you have to have an Australian support act.

Hughes: He always cites you as an influence.

Dylan: I thought he was real good, no pretense.

Hughes: You met him too?

Dylan: No I didn't, I just heard his records. I like the harp ...

Hughes: What do you think characterizes the Australian that you know?

Dylan: Well, in Brisbane, I noticed that everybody has a great ability to laugh.

Hughes: What about elsewhere?

Dylan: Elsewhere I find it ... it's very .... (pause) ... I don't think it's a land for explorers.

Hughes: You mean you don't consider it a land for explorers because there isn't much to discover?

Dylan: No, I find you have to have permission for everything.

Hughes: Creatively?

Dylan: No, just a general feeling in the air, I can't explain it. It's like a feeling when all the windows are closed and you can't open them. And I can't explain it but it seems to be very large too. I've seen a lot more and I've got a lot better feeling for it this time than the last time when I was here and I probably will come back again.

Hughes: When do you think you will come back?

Dylan: Well, the next go around.

Hughes: You have no idea when that will be?

Dylan: No, whenever resembles the right time. I like Australia, I like all the towns that we've played in and I liked all the people that we've played to.

Hughes: Do you think that feeling of having to ask permission for something is linked with the inferiority complex that Australians are refuted to have? Like "No, you can't do that, because this is Australia" - going back to the convict days?

Dylan: Yeah, because we have some friends. I have a good friend who wanted to come to a concert, who wanted to see this show and he couldn't get a visa - he was coming from Singapore. He couldn't get a visa and it was outrageous of them and he said, well they didn't understand why he just wanted to come for a few days.

Hughes: If you could think of one image to sum up how you see yourself, what would it be?

Dylan: During the last 100 years or the next 100 years?

Hughes: Both.

Dylan: I don't know. Basically I just have common qualities. I feel primitive in a lot of ways and in a lot of ways I feel advanced and neither one of these feelings really matter to me. I can imagine every situation in life as if I've done it, no matter what it might be: whether it be self punishment or marrying my half sister, I mean, I can imagine, I can feel all these things for some reason. I don't know why.

Hughes: You once wrote in Idiot Wind "What's good is bad, what's bad is good, you'll find out when you've reached the top, you're on the bottom". Does that sum up how you feel about the cyclic way of things?

Dylan: Yeah, everything that goes out comes around. I feel that way, don't you? I mean, I don't feel that I have to be quarantined for thinking that, that's just a very common way to think. And it isn't all that irregular either, it happens to be true. The simple things which are true usually astound people. "What's good is bad, what's bad is good"". Sounds very simple really.

Hughes: Yeah, it struck me as being very true, that's why I noted it.

Dylan: Right, it's a piece of raw meat.

Hughes: Frank Zappa once said he thought the universe was based on a Mobius vortex.

Dylan: Yeah? I don't understand that. <---- excluded in printed interview

Hughes: [tries to explain the Mobius vortex ...] <------ ditto

Dylan: Oh, yeah. Well, I can see that. I also find it very uncertain. I had a great flash into what the universe was all about when I saw a man burning a fiddle on a roof, but I can't explain to you what it was that I felt.

Hughes: What other artists around at the moment do you find exciting musically?

Dylan: You mean contemporary?

Hughes: Yeah, around at the moment, doing things now.

Dylan: Well, everybody can be exciting on a certain night.

Hughes: But for you?

Dylan: For me? Usually the old people every time are the only people exciting musically. Of my crowd, Eric Clapton's always pretty exciting musically, but I usually listen to older records.

Hughes: You mentioned liking Joan Armatrading?

Dylan: I like her, yeah. I only have heard her records. I haven't seen her in person. I liked her.

Hughes: What about Roy Harper? Have you heard him?

Dylan: Isn't he an English ... er ... Yeah, years ago, I heard his records and I liked them.

Hughes: Ray Davies?

Dylan: I think he's a genius. Nobody ever asks me about him. I've always been a fan of Ray Davies ever since way back when. I've always liked him and his brother and that group.

Hughes: What do you admire about the Kinks?

Dylan: Well, whenever you come up with something it's like being a chemist. Whenever you come up with something new you've created something new so I have to admire anyone that can do that. And that song - like I say I don't know what he's doing these days, but he did those songs, 'You Really Got Me' and the one after that, that was new, that was different - it was new and it had never been done before. So I admire that when I hear that and I appreciate that ... (pause) ... Yeah, I was going to try to contact him next time I go over there, to see what he was doing.

Hughes: Do you find people working in other areas interesting, like scientists for example?

Dylan: Well, I don't recognize too many of those people so ... yeah, people who are working on cancer research, I'm not gonna put that down.

Hughes: How self-sufficient are you?

Dylan: In what way?

Hughes: Mentally I suppose.

Dylan: Well, I'm not under any narcotics.

Hughes: That's not really what I meant.

Dylan: How do you mean it then?

Hughes: How much can you exist in isolation without needing other people?

Dylan: Without drinking any hemlock?

Hughes: Yeah.

Dylan: I don't know. I really don't know. I mean I have to go out and see people, but I still need to pull the night shades down too.

Hughes: With each successive step do you feel that you're coming closer to working out your own destiny?

Dylan: Yeah, 99% of the time I do.

Hughes: Do you believe in reincarnation?

Dylan: In a casual but not astonishing way.

Hughes: Can you recall other lives?

Dylan: No, personally, I can't.

Hughes: No even flashes?

Dylan: Um, the flash without the desire to .... once in a while .... no, I can't say as I do. I don't pretend that I have been living in some other time although I admit that it's possible.

Hughes: Do you find that most things come from within?

Dylan: Most things come from taking chances.

Hughes: And you're always taking a lot?

Dylan: Yeah.

Conducted at the Boulevard Hotel before the last show of the Far East leg of the 1978 world tour.

Karen Hughes was a young journalist in the very beginning of her career who happened to run into Dylan in Adelaide and to her astonishment found herself not only asking for an interview but getting promised one in Sydney!

This interview was originally printed in Rock Express No 4 and is an edited version of the actual interview, of which some 45 minutes are circulating. The interview was reprinted in the bookleg "Talkin' Bob Dylan ... 1978".

The above is a reprint of version with a few things from the original tape edited in.