There is a great interview from the early 90s with Bob Dylan by Paul Zollo of American Songwriter. The following three questions are from that interview and may be of interest to writers particularly fascinated with inspiration. Definitely check out the full interview here, as well as material leading up to the interview here.
When you write songs, do you try to consciously guide the meaning or do you try to follow subconscious directions?
Well, you know, motivation is something you never know behind any song, really. Anybody’s song, you never know what the motivation was. It’s nice to be able to put yourself in an environment where you can completely accept all the unconscious stuff that comes to you from your inner workings of your mind. And block yourself off to where you can control it all, take it down. Edgar Allan Poe must have done that. People who are dedicated writers, of which there are some, but mostly people get their information today over a television set or some kind of a way that’s hitting them on all their senses. It’s not just a great novel anymore. You have to be able to get the thoughts out of your mind.
How do you do that?
Well, first of all, there’s two kinds of thoughts in your mind: there’s good thoughts and evil thoughts. Both come through your mind. Some people are more loaded down with one than another. Nevertheless, they come through. And you have to be able to sort them out, if you want to be a songwriter, if you want to be a good song singer. You must get rid of all that baggage. You ought to be able to sort out those thoughts, because they don’t mean anything, they’re just pulling you around, too. It’s important to get rid of all them thoughts. Then you can do something from some kind of surveillance of the situation. You have some kind of place where you can see but it can’t affect you. Where you can bring something to the matter, besides just take, take, take, take, take. As so many situations in life are today. Take, take, take, that’s all that it is. What’s in it for me? That syndrome which started in the “Me Decade,” whenever that was. We’re still in that. It’s still happening.
Is songwriting for you more a sense of taking something from some place else?
Well, someplace else is always a heartbeat away. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. There’s no rule. That’s what makes it so attractive. There isn’t any rule. You can still have your wits about you and do something that gets you off in a multitude of ways.
Here's Bob Dylan's performance to honor Martin Scorsese this week at the Critic's Choice Awards. Getting old, the voice is crusty, but the heart is on fire:
the mountain road's
translated by David G. Lanoue
Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.
Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 127 songs