Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan on Truth and Acting

Bill Flanagan: Getting back to This Dream of You , the character sings, “How long can I stay in this nowhere café?” Where is that café?

Bob Dylan: It sounds like it’s south of the border or close to the border.

BF: You’re not saying?

BD: Well, no, it’s not like I’m not saying. But if you have those kind of thoughts and feelings you know where the guy is. He’s right where you are. If you don’t have those thoughts and feelings then he doesn’t exist.

BF: The character in the song reminds me a lot of the guy who is in the song Across The Borderline.

BD: I know what you’re saying, but it’s not a character like in a book or a movie. He’s not a bus driver. He doesn’t drive a forklift. He’s not a serial killer. It’s me who’s singing that, plain and simple. We shouldn’t confuse singers and performers with actors. Actors will say, “My character this, and my character that.” Like beating a dead horse. Who cares about the character? Just get up and act. You don’t have to explain it to me.

BF: Well can’t a singer act out a song?

BD: Yeah sure, a lot of them do. But the more you act the further you get away from the truth. And a lot of those singers lose who they are after a while. You sing, “I’m a lineman for the county,” enough times and you start to scamper up poles.

BF: What actor could you hear singing This Dream of You?

BD: Gosh I don’t know, James Cagney, Mickey Rooney

BF: How about Humphrey Bogart?

BD: Yeah, sure, him too. Funny thing about actors and that identity thing. Every time I run into Val Kilmer, I can’t help myself. I say, “Why, Johnny Ringo – you look like somebody just walked on your grave.” Val always says, “Bob, I’m not Johnny Ringo. That’s just a role I played in a movie.” He could be right, he could be wrong. I think he’s wrong but he says it in such a sincere way. You have to think he thinks he’s right.

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