Dylan the Mapmaker… and Dylan the Enigma
With Shooter Jennings
Dylan was always on the outskirts of my life until I really dove head-in. I had heard songs from Blood on the Tracks here and there — my mom used to play “Meet Me in the Morning” when I’d visit her since she’s also quite an aficionado of his music — but there was definitely a moment when I sat down with that record. It was around the time that my relationship with the mother of my children resolved, and … fuck. To dive into it in that kind of a place was really tough. Every lyric to that album just made so much sense; it was almost too hard to listen to. I started learning to play those songs on the piano. I’d sit around like a sad sack by myself in my underwear and play fuckin’ “Simple Twist of Fate”. It had such a profound effect on me.
There’s a very compassionate angle to the record. There’s so much admission of his own wrongdoing in the story and so much admission of him realizing that he had something special and he blew it. It’s really lacking arrogance. The second half of the record has this healing quality to it. It’s like there’s some closure, but it’s not the closure you’d expect, which is exactly how it happens with any relationship that dissolves. Two people split and become two other people again. It’s almost like learning how to walk again.
BOTT is kind of like a road map; if someone cares to use it, the record offers an example of how to get through that heartache. Now, I can put it on at any time and go back to a place in my life and look back on it in a positive light. It’s fused to that part of my life, and I think that’s why it will always be my favorite. It’s a safe way of reaching those feelings and knowing you’re going to get out of it ok.
Being obsessed with Bob Dylan is being obsessed with all aspects of Bob Dylan. If you’re hooked on Bob Dylan, you want to listen to everything to try and understand this guy who seems superhuman, as both a songwriter and a storyteller. My old manager, who passed away, was named the Colonel Jon Hensley, and he and I had this obsession about Bob Dylan together, especially the current Bob Dylan. When Dylan did “The Night We Called It a Day” on his last appearance on Letterman, during the solo, he’s just kind of wandering around on stage. Jon used to say he was wandering around like he’d lost his goddamned mind.
There was also that Rolling Stone interview that he did around Tempest, where the interviewer’s talking about perception, and Dylan’s talking about how the interviewer has a Bloody Mary. He says something like, “So I say to Bob Dylan, ‘This isn’t a Bloody Mary. It’s a water,'” and Dylan says, “Well, that’s just your perception.” I’m so infatuated with those kind of moves. Later, in that same interview, he talks about having the motorcycle accident and transfiguration and how he became another person after the accident. It’s like, “Holy shit! What is he talking about?” It’s so out there and so confusing that it makes him an enigma. At this late stage in his career, you don’t know what he’s thinking. That’s almost as powerful as his music.