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Bob's back pages

By DARRYL STERDAN -- Winnipeg Sun

You may call him Terry. You may call him Jimmy. You may call him Bobby. You may call him Zimmy. You may call him R.J. You may call him Ray. You may call him anything but no matter what you say, you can't call Bob Dylan for an interview.

At least, we can't. The reclusive singer isn't doing any press to promote his latest national swing on his so-called Never Ending Tour, which brings him back to the Winnipeg Arena tomorrow night.

Thankfully, Dylan isn't always so tight-lipped. Every now and then, he lets slip with a bon mot -- sometimes from the stage and occasionally with a member of the media. And a lot of the things he's said lately answer a lot of the questions we wanted to ask him. So we took a bunch of those quotes from other sources, put our questions in front of them and voila! It's our very own completely exclusive -- and completely inauthentic -- Bob Dylan "interview."

And we didn't even have to deal with a publicist ...

SUN: First, why won't you talk to me?

DYLAN: "You can't achieve greatness under media scrutiny. You're never allowed to be less than your legend." (USA Today, September 2001)

SUN: But you are a legend. You've influenced generations of musicians.

DYLAN: "Well ... you know, you can influence all kinds of people, but sometimes it gets in the way -- especially if somebody is accusing you of influencing somebody that you had no interest in influencing in the first place. I've never given it any mind at all, really. I don't really care to influence anybody at this time and if I have influenced anybody, what can I say?" (Guitar World, 1999)

SUN: But wouldn't your intentions be clearer if you were more available to the public?

DYLAN: "People can learn everything about me through my songs, if they know where to look." (Unknown, 1990)

SUN: Maybe so. But your songs mean different things to different people at different times. And you've written so many classics.

DYLAN: "Thank you! Many of you probably don't know that (All Along the Watchtower) is the theme song of Czechoslovakia now. Yeah!" (Onstage in Winnipeg, 1990)

SUN: Oh, so you're a comedian now? OK funny man, know any good jokes?

DYLAN: "We went out for some seafood, and (my drummer) asked them, 'Do you serve crabs?' 'Sure do, sit right down,' they told him." (Onstage in California, 2000)

SUN: What, did Milton Berle leave you his gags in his will? Try again.

DYLAN: "You know, I was talking to Neil Young yesterday and he said to me, he said, 'Bob, you just can't hear cool music on the radio anymore...' and I says to Neil, I says, 'Sure -- you just need to stick your radio in the refrigerator." (Onstage in Phoenix, 1999)

SUN: Please stop. How about some of your more serious statements through the years? Care to reflect on them?

DYLAN: "I have no idea what I said back then. Don't you worry about it. It's like something you wrote five years ago, who cares about that now?" (Rome interview, July, 2001)

SUN: Yeah, it must be tough to be Bob Dylan all the time.

DYLAN: "You can't be who you want to be in daily life -- I don't care who you are, you are going to be disappointed in daily life. The cure for all that is to get up on stage, and that is why performers do it. But in saying that, I don't want to put on the mask of celebrity. I'd rather just do my work and see it as a trade." (Sunday Mirror, July 2001)

SUN: You seem to have a humble view of your art.

DYLAN: "This is what I was put on earth to do. Just like Shakespeare was going to write his plays, the Wright brothers were going to invent an aeroplane, like Edison was going to invent a telephone." (Time/USA Today, 2001)

SUN: What do you think of music today?

DYLAN: "Everything on the radio sounds hideous." (Time/ USA Today, 2001)

SUN: What about back in the '60s, when everybody tried to sound like you?

DYLAN: "People who came after me, I don't feel, were ever my peers or contemporaries, because they didn't really have any standing in traditional music. They didn't play folk songs. They heard me and thought, 'Oh this guy writes his own songs, I can do that.' They can, of course, but those songs don't have any resonance." (Time/USA Today, 2001)

SUN: What causes resonate with you these days?

DYLAN: "WWF (World Wildlife Fund) is a good cause, I support them and am proud to lend my music to this effort. Early on, animals were the only ones who liked my music. Now it's payback time." (Unknown, May 2001)

SUN: You've been on your Never Ending Tour for years now. How do you do it?

DYLAN: "A lot of people can't stand touring, but to me it's like breathing. I do it because I'm driven to do it. At times in my life the only place I have been happy is when I am onstage." (Sunday Mirror, July 2001)

SUN: Did you always want to be a musician?

DYLAN: "I didn't really choose to do what you are seeing me do right now. It chose me. If I had any choice I would have been a scientist, an engineer or a doctor. That's the kind of people I look up to. But I'm an entertainer. I'm in light entertainment." (Rome interview, July 2001)

SUN: Any parting words?

DYLAN: "We gotta get out of here now, we gotta get a hammer and hit the sack!" (Onstage in Minneapolis, July 1999)

SUN: Sorry I asked. (

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