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March 17, 2015

Andy Muir: Talkin' News on Bob Dylan


Bob Dylan, Troubadour, Shadows in the Night and the Neverending Tour


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book about Bob Dylan, Troubadour-click to buy
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Bob Wilson

Bob Dylan has inspired many to try and detail his life and work, yet few reach the heights of writer Andy Muir. Muir has given us such works as The Razor's Edge (2001), and One More Night (2013), where he details with insight and depth the facts behind what has been dubbed Dylan's Neverending Tour. Though Dylan named the touring as such in an interview, he feels the term has taken on a misunderstood life of its own. What would the oft wandering mystical minstrel of rock be without controversy? And more importantly, where would we be without the likes of Muir to sit down and and clear up the waters so wide and muddy for us? Muir graciously sat down to discuss his most up to date ruminations on all matters from Shadows in the Night (2015), to the 2015 tour dates, and to the rumor mill.

Readers interested in Dylan should be on the lookout for the new Kindle release of Muir's classic rolling tome, Troubadour (2003). The paperback edition fetches collectible prices on online sites of over $135. The Kindle edition of the book is available at Amazon.com for only $7.79. The insights provided into the early and late songs of Bob Dylan is a must read for all fans interested in rock's premiere craftsman.

Bob Wilson: Dylan has seemed at times to be tepid on heaping praise on other performers. Can you describe his relationship with Sinatra and his music over the years?

Andy Muir: Well, like most things in a career as lengthy as Dylan's and especially with someone who has so many sides to him - that's both true and not true. There are numerous occasions when he has heaped loads of praise on other artists too. Also, Dylan is often playing games so both warm praise and 'tepid' responses may be saying something deeper than they appear to be on the surface, perhaps the comments are made for you to think of something else, something of Dylan's in another light for example.

Firstly there is the simple admiration for a master vocal stylist. Dylan is, you will not be surprised to hear, my favourite singer of all time but Sinatra would be high up the list - what tone, what control, what phrasing and what drive to capture in his voice what he heard in his head. There may be personal connections and memories too, directly or through family and friends. I'm not sure younger folk are aware of how big Sinatra was. Sinatra was one of the (pronounced theeee) stars of the last century. Pre-Elvis, Sinatra was the one that girls swooned over in his early days and the cameras lapped up and moral outrage surrounded.

Bob Wilson: Dylan has stated that 'Shadows' isn't a Sinatra covers record, yet he recorded it in Studio B at Capitol; any thoughts on that?

Andy Muir: Different signals, certainly, but not necessarily contradictory. Dylan is careful with language, and it isn't really a 'covers' album, is it? Sinatra did not write the songs, instead he too covered them. They are standards. Lots of other wonderful singers covered most of them too. The immense Sam Cooke, another with many a Dylan connection, for one.

It is, however, clearly a homage to and re-interpretation of songs associated with Sinatra whom Dylan has been at pains to extol and doff his cap to - hence the studio, the interview comment, the album cover and so forth - what was it, Dylan said? "Frank’s got to be on your mind. Because he is the mountain." Something like that - there was a day I'd know if the quote was word-perfect for sure!

Bob Wilson: Jimmy Carter has gone out of his way to laud Dylan over the years. Do you have any 'scoop' on the relationship between these two?

Andy Muir: I think it is just as Carter used to tell it. One of his sons, a Woodstock Festival graduate, suggested Carter invite Dylan Carter did so and apparently hit it off with Dylan (though to what degree is unknown.) The initial motivation was surely that it was a smart political move by Carter (and guaranteed a son's eternal gratitude!) as Dylan's 1974 tour was a huge thing in America at the time. The same thing stands for Carter quoting 'he not busy being born, is busy dying' two years later to remind the baby boomers that he was "down with the Dylan fans". I'm not saying it was all cynical on Carter's part but there was that motivation, surely? It was out of character for Dylan to go along with the 1974 meeting but he was quoted as having been impressed with Carter having visited Israel. According to Carter though, when he tried to talk to Bob and Sara about that they immediately changed the conversation.

Carter got a bit confused this time, mixing up his years but since I am around 34 years younger than him and I get confused with years (not where Dylan is concerned, but otherwise) all the time, I more than forgive him.

Incidentally, Dylan wasn't too impressed with being quoted by Carter, he said he'd only go out and vote himself if the likes of Franklin or Jefferson came back. Good ol' Bob, he has sure always known the period of history that interests him.

Bob Wilson: The speech Dylan gave at Music Cares was certainly a 'barn-burner'? What sticks out in that one for you?

Andy Muir: I thought it was a shame the way it was received, the focus was all on the least interesting bits, I felt. It was a wonderfully funny, open and revealing speech. There was a lot to be admired in it but unquestionably for me what 'stuck out' was the passages about the songs he listened to leading to the songs he wrote. Wonderful stuff.

Bob Wilson: The rumor mill always talks about Dylan's last show whenever he tours. It looks like he may give Willie Nelson a run for his money by the looks of things. What is a Dylan concert like in his 73rd year?

Andy Muir: I haven't seen one yet and I can't wait to - maybe there will be some surprises. All I can say with confidence is that it'll be the best show you'll see in 2015.

Bob Wilson: Dylan said he pared down the Sinatra arrangements on his takes on these songs. How did the band fare on this trip into the studio?

Andy Muir: I think they did really well. I love the sound, and I think they gave their 'band-leader' exactly what he wanted and what more can you ask for than that?

Bob Wilson: There has been salacious scuttlebutt on Dylan's wife spending all of his money, when hardly any of us knew he was married again. As much as we all hate the gossip (ahem!), any insights on this situation? Maybe you can tell his side of it for a change. -Forgive us for going there, but it was in the news quite prominently.

Andy Muir: Ah, apologies - you've come to the wrong person. I don't really care about that sort of stuff. Sorry if that sounds snobbish but it is just true, I've not asked anyone who could be in a position to know more about that story. I just read it and shrugged. I know when I ran fanzines, and indeed for decades before I hunted down every bit of Dylan info no matter how trivial or tawdry but it was always the bottom of my interest and finally fell away altogether.

I did read it though, I've not grown up that much! It did not feel right, that story, on a number of levels. Firstly, you'd have to really go some to spend all of Dylan's money. Secondly were you to start doing so, alarm bells would have rung in many a department and word would have got back quickly. Thirdly, after the first settlement with Sara does anyone really think that Dylan would not control such things to a sensible degree? I don't wish to sound unromantic, just realistic.

Bob Dylan will start off the current leg of the 'so-called' Neverending Tour on April 15th at the Borgata in Atlantic City, and it winds down on April 10th, 2015 at the Morris Performing Arts Center, in South Bend, Indiana. Check bobdylan.com for a full tour schedule. ~Don't you dare miss it!



BOB DYLAN

L4LM's earlier interview with Andy Muir can be found here: http://liveforlivemusic.com/features/23871/l4lm-exclusive-interview-with-bob-dylan-author-andrew-muir

book about Bob Dylan, Troubadour-click to buy
Troubadour-Click to Buy

On Kindle at: http://www.amazon.com/Troubadour-Songs-Dylan-Andrew-Muir-ebook/dp/B00UM34ATM/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p


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Dylan Covers Sinatra-Bob Wilson article
Bob Dylan - The Night we Called it a Day - Music Video
Bob Wilson Review-William Sachs: HOLLYWOOD FIXER

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