(What was it you wanted? #4)

Heiman: OK, my name is Bruce Heiman. I'm with KMEX radio here in Tuscon. We got a press release from the Tuscon chapter of the American Atheists and they said in response to your recent embrace of the born-again Christian movement they plan to leaflet your upcoming concert. They say they recognize the need to inform those in the audience that the new Dylan cause-celebre is a repressive and and reactionary ideology and that members intend to draw attention to the contradictions between the previous content of your art form and the message which your songs now expound.

Dylan: Uh-huh. I still don't quite grasp what you're saying or who's saying it or ...

Heiman: OK. It's the American Atheists in Tuscon.

Dylan: Is this a group?

Heiman: Yeah. Actually the American Atheists is a worldwide group headed by Madelaine Mary O'Hare, and they have a chapter here in Tuscon, and I think basically what they are talking about is your stand in the past and the type of music you played and the message you tried to get across and the music you're playing today and the different message you're trying to get across.

Dylan: Yeah, well, whatever the old message was, The Bible says "All things become new, old things are passed away". I guess this group doesn't believe that. What is it exactly that they're protesting?

Heiman: I think what they're against ... there's another statement, that they make. It says ...

Dylan: Are they against the doctrine of Jesus Christ, or that he died on the cross or that man is born into sin? Just what exactly is it they're protesting?

Heiman: Well the Atheists are against any sort of religion, be it Christianity ....

Dylan: Well, Christ is no religion. We're not talking about religion ... Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Heiman: There's another statement they made that maybe you could shed some light on. They said they would like to remind Dylan fans and audiences that one's right to say something does not per se lend any validity to the statement. So in essence what they're saying is that you have followers who are going to be at the concert and are going to listen to the message of your music.

Dylan: Right. I follow God, so if my followers are following me, indirectly they're gonna be following God too, because I don't sing any song which hasn't been given to me by the Lord to sing.

Heiman: OK. They believe that all religion is repressive.

Dylan: Well, religion is repressive to a certain degree. Religion is another form of bondage which man invents to to get himself to God. But that's why Christ came. Christ didn't preach religion. He preached the Truth, the Way and the Life. He said He'd come to give life and life more abundantly. He talked about life, not necessarily religion ...

Heiman: They say that your song now expound passive acceptance of one's fate. Do you agree with that? I'm not exactly sure what they mean by that.

Dylan: I'm not exactly sure what they mean by that either. But I don't feel that that's true. But I'm not sure what that means - "passive acceptance to man's fate" What is man's fate?

Heiman: I don't know. These aren't my ideologies. They are just a group of Atheists.

Dylan: Well, this ideology isn't my ideology either. My ideology now would be coming out of the Scripture. You see, I didn't invent these things - these things have just been shown to me. I'll stand on that faith - that they are true. I believe they're true. I *know* they're true.

Heiman: Do you feel that the message of your music has changed over the years from music which talked about war to music that talks about Christianity?

Dylan: No. There's gonna be war. There's always war and rumors of war. And The Bible talks about a war coming up which will be a war to end all wars ...

tape breaks

... The spirit of the atheist will not prevail, I can tell you that much, It's a deceiving spirit.

Heiman: Why do you maintain that it will not prevail?

Dylan: Is it anti-God? Is an atheist anti-God?

Heiman: Yes, I'm trying to think ... I interviewed Madelaine Mary O'Hare a couple of weeks ago and she said it's anti-religion, anti-God. I think that she was saying that anybody who believes in a Supreme Being is - to use her word - stupid. So they are against anything to do with religion.

Dylan: Uh-huh.

Heiman: Sometimes it's hard for me to grasp what they're saying.

Dylan: Well, a religion which says you have to do certain things to get to God - they're probably talking about that kind of religion, which is a religion which is by works: you can enter into Kingdom by what you do, what you wear, what you say, how many times a day you pray, how many good deeds you may do. If that's what they mean by religion, that type of religion will not get you into the Kingdom, that's true. However there is a Master Creator, a Supreme Being in the Universe.

Heiman: Alright. In another one of their statements they say that: "For years Dylan cried out against the Masters Of War and the power elite. The new Dylan now proclaims that we must serve a new master, a master whose nebulous origins were ignorance, foolishness, stupidity and blind faith. The Dylan who inspired us to look beyond banal textbooks and accepted ideologies now implores us to turn inwards to the pages of The Holy Bible, a book filled with contradictions, inaccuracies, outrages and absurdities". Now this is what they're saying.

Dylan: Well, The Bible says: "The Fool has said in his heart, There's no God ... "

Heiman: OK. They're saying the movement is a fraud and evasive ...

Dylan: Well, I don't know what movement. What movement are they talking about. The American Atheists?

Heiman: No, the Jesus Movement.

Dylan: Well, it isn't a fraud. There's nothing fraudulent about it. It's all true. It's always been true. It is true and will be true.

Heiman: They're calling upon your admirers, the people who support you, who will attend your concert, to go on and appreciate your art form but to avoid the psychological and social pitfalls - this is their words - or being victimized by your new-found religious fantasy.

Dylan: Well, they can't do that. You can't separate the words from the music. I know people try to do that. But they can't do that. It's like separating the foot from the knee.

Heiman: You're saying it's all one.

Dylan: It is all one.

Heiman: OK, Bob, I appreciate your time, I really do.

Telephone interview conducted by Bruce Heiman from the KMEX Radio in Tuscon Arizona on December 7, 1979, the day before Dylan's show in Tuscon. Broadcast the same day (?).

Sources: Transcribed in The Telegraph #29, Spring 1988, by Clinton Heylin in his fascinating series of articles about Dylan's Christian period. Tape.