Bill Flanagan did an extensive interview with Bob Dylan for bodylan.com to promote Triplicate (Columbia), his triple-disc collection that comes out 3/31. Here are 15 fascinating answers and anecdotes from the interview that includes the great line “I’ve been all over the world, I’ve seen oracles and wishing wells.”

Why 32 minutes is the right length for an album.
“That’s about the limit to the number of minutes on a long playing record where the sound is most powerful, 15 minutes to a side. My records were always overloaded on both sides. Too many minutes to be recorded or mastered properly. My songs were too long and didn’t fit the audio format of an LP. The sound was thin and you would have to turn your record player up to nine or ten to hear it well. So these CDs to me represent the LPs that I should have been making.”

The audience for his standards records is…
“The man on the street, the common man, the everyday person. Maybe that is a Bob Dylan fan, maybe not, I don’t know.”

Movies that have influenced Dylan songs.
“The RobeKing of KingsSamson and Delilah. Maybe, like, Picnic and A Face in the Crowd.”

His favorite late-night albums.
Sarah Vaughan’s My Kinda Love. Also the one she did with Clifford Brown.”

Recent records he likes.
Iggy Pop’s Après, that’s a good record. Imelda May, I like her. Valerie June, The Stereophonics. I like Willie Nelson and Norah Jones’ album with Wynton Marsalis, the Ray Charles tribute record. I liked Amy Winehouse’s last record.”

Dylan’s favorite drummers.
“[Gene] Krupa, Elvin Jones, Fred Below, Jimmy Van Eaton, Charlie Watts. I like Casey Dickens, the drummer who played with Bob Wills.”

 The Tommy Dorsey-Son House connection via the drums on “Imagination.”
“Tommy Dorsey plays this kind of rhythm all the time. The drumming does fly around the beat because it has to, the drummer is observant to the bass line and there is a walking bass line that is ticking like a clock, like a heart palpitation. There’s a stomp to it too, that’s buried in there, almost like a Son House thing, but it’s buried so deep you hardly notice it. On the top it sounds all dreamy-like, like a pure ballad, but that can be deceiving. The melody makes this song what it is, not necessarily the drumming.”

How Sammy Kahn ‘s“There’s a Flaw in My Flue” and its line “smoke gets in my nose” relates to the blues.
“I think it’s a sincere romantic ballad. Smoke getting in my nose could be metaphorical, but it’s also very real at face value. There are a lot of lines like that in blues and folk music, “My bucket’s got a hole in it,” “there are stones in my passway,” “my motor don’t turn,” “there’s a ring in my tub,” “there’s smoke in my nose.” It’s not unlike a Blind Lemon [Jefferson] line, “it’s been a meatless and wheatless day.” Sure, it’s a romantic ballad, but I don’t think it can be dismissed that easily. A fire in the fireplace could burn your place down.”

Frank who?
“When I recorded these songs I had to make believe that I never heard of Sinatra, that he didn’t exist. He’s a guide. He’ll point the way and lead you to the entrance but from there you’re on your own.”

The TV show he watches on the tour bus.
I Love Lucy, all the time, non-stop.

A song on Tempest has it roots in a song by the man who wrote “Your Feet’s Too Big.”
“’Duquesne Whistle’ actually started out at as a Fats Waller song, ‘Jitterbug Waltz.’ I altered it somewhat but that was the blueprint.” 

Actors you wouldn’t think he had met.
“The Duke [John Wayne], I met him on a battleship in Hawaii where he was filming a movie, he and Burgess Meredith. One of my former girlfriends was in the movie too, and she told me to come over there; she introduced me to him and he asked me to play some folk songs. I played him ‘Buffalo Skinners,’ ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy,’ and I think ‘I’m a Rambler, I’m a Gambler.’ He told me if I wanted to I could stick around and be in the movie. He was friendly to me.”

The music that got him to leave rock & roll behind.
“What I was listening to on my little portable record player was Gus Cannon, Memphis Minnie, Sleepy John Estes, players like that. Charlie Poole, too, and even Joan Baez. I was looking for my identity and I knew it was in there somewhere.”

Something Sinatra said.
“He was funny, we were standing out on his patio at night and he said to me, ‘You and me, pal, we got blue eyes, we’re from up there,’ and he pointed to the stars. ‘These other bums are from down here.’ I remember thinking that he might be right.”

The birth of rock & roll.
“The big showdown between capitalism and communism was on the horizon. Rock and roll made you oblivious to the fear, busted down the barriers that race and religion, ideologies put up. We lived under a death cloud; the air was radioactive. There was no tomorrow, any day it could all be over, life was cheap. That was the feeling at the time and I’m not exaggerating. Doo-wop was the counterpart to rock and roll. Songs like “In the Still of the Night,” “Earth Angel,” “Thousand Miles Away,” those songs balanced things out, they were heartfelt and melancholy for a world that didn’t seem to have a heart. The doo-wop groups might have been an extension, too, of The Ink Spots and gospel music, but it didn’t matter; that was brand new too. Groups like The Five Satins and The Meadowlarks seemed to be singing from some imaginary street corner down the block. Jerry Lee Lewis came in like a streaking comet from some far away galaxy. Rock and roll was atomic powered, all zoom and doom. It didn’t seem like an extension of anything but it probably was.”





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