“Good reviews don’t hurt you, but they don’t help either, It’s better to have a record the critics hate that sells 10 million copies than one the critics love that sells 10.”
~Bob Dylan to Edna Gundersen (August 31, 1990)
31 August 1990
Edna Gundersen Interview, Lincoln, Nebraska
An interview with Edna Gundersen for USA Today. This took place on August 31, 1990 in Lincoln, Nebraska on the day of the concert at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The article that appeared in the European edition of USA Today was in a considerably abbreviated form.
ROCK ICON IS HAPPY WITH HIS PLACE
The poetic revolutionary reflects on his charmed life in an exclusive Lincoln, Neb. – On the opening day of the interview Nebraska State Fair, Bob Dylan is the star attraction, performing in a rocking 90 minutes of mostly early hits. Most of the Devaney Sports Center’s 6,000 cheering fans are college students who weren’t yet born when rock’s poetic revolutionary held a generation rapt with the show’s climax, Like A Rolling Stone. It’s been 30 years since he left college himself to stake a claim in the Greenwich Village folk scene.
How does it feel? “In some ways, it felt older to be 30 than to be 60 or however old they say I am,” Dylan says after the show. “How old am I now?” He’s 49. “That’s what they say, but nobody knows my real birth date,” he counters teasingly.
His take on aging: “You just can’t help it.” Dylan whose new Under The Red Sky album is out this week, is the only living rocker in Life’s list of the century’s 100 most important Americans. Still godlike to many, he admits he’s less hungry these days.
“You reach a certain place and that’s sufficient,” he says. “Sometimes there is no higher. How much higher can Michael Jackson go? Or Madonna? You get your territory and you’re content with that.”
Friendly and direct, Dylan talks freely about his work – in the present tense, anyway. He steers clear of ancient history (the 1960’s), Dylan mythology or anything remotely personal. “People can learn everything about me through my songs, if they know where to look. They can juxtapose them with certain other songs and draw a clear picture. But why would anyone want to know about me? It’s ridiculous.”
Informed that his childhood home in Hibbing, Minn., recently sold for $84,000 (twice it’s appraised value), Dylan says only, “Well, they better check the furnace.”
Clad in a crisp white shirt, cap, jeans and heavy black boots, Dylan clutches a cup of coffee backstage. Clearly tired, he’s nonetheless witty and enthusiastic, even as he faces a 334-mile bus ride to Hannibal, MO., for the next nights show.
For the third year running, Dylan has surfaced with a tour and album. Red Sky is the 36th in a canon dating back to 1962. The Traveling Wilbury’s second album – “a whole lot better than
the first,” he promises – was recorded last spring and is due in October. A tour may follow, if Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty and Geoff Lynne can co-ordinate schedules.
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