Feb 10: Bob Dylan – Sydney Press Conference 1986 (video)

bob dylan sydney 1986

There is so much mediocrity going on, every time someone really good comes along it’s like you can’t be too good ‘cause you’re looked at. you stand out. People that stand out in an individual kind of way, they don’t fit into the system because they don’t sell, they don’t keep system commodities going. I thought Peter Townshend’s record was real good.

Who’s Bob Dylan? I’m only Bob Dylan when I have to be Bob Dylan. Most of the time I just be myself.

Brett Whiteley’s Studio
Surry Hills
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
10 February 1986
Sydney Press Conference

Here are some of the words from the press conference – Source: The Rolling Telegraph Supplement

Not everything is 100% accurate, but it will have to do 🙂

On his high profile recently and the Live Aid and Farm Aid experiences.
“Live Aid and Farm Aid were pretty good causes I guess.”
His involvement in those projects.
“As much as anyone else that was there.”
Did imitators flatter him?
“It’s… it’s… it’s flattering.”
On his visit to Moscow last year.
“I was invited by a poet, Yevgeny Yevtushenko. He invited me to a poetry
Was he surprised at how much that country knew about him?
“The particular show I did was only for a certain type of people.”
Did he see himself as a poet?
“I don’t know, compared to whom? I don’t really put my stuff next to Byron or Keats. I
don’t think my stuff stands up too well on paper next to that.”
Why Australia with Tom Petty?
“Why? Because of the money.”
In the video of “Tight Connection To My Heart” he looked uncomfortable at times.
“All the time.” Laughs.
Did he hate every minute of it?

“Yeah.” (Grins)
Are videos a necessary evil?
“Not any more than anything else.”
Such as?
“Like anything.”
Also looking uncomfortable in “We Are The World”.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t remember that I did as best as I could.”
The reason for the popularity of monstrous music?
“There is so much mediocrity going on, every time someone really good comes along
it’s like you can’t be too good ‘cause you’re looked at. you stand out. People that stand out in
an individual kind of way, they don’t fit into the system because they don’t sell, they don’t
keep system commodities going. I thought Peter Townshend’s record was real good.”
On Shyness:
“Yeah, most of the time.”
On himself:
“Who’s Bob Dylan? I’m only Bob Dylan when I have to be Bob Dylan. Most of the
time I just be myself.”
On Christianity:
“I was doing what I believed I should be doing. Most artists should do some gospel
kind of music. If they don’t do something with gospel, I don’t really trust that artist I don’t
care who he is. I never considered myself to have Christian fans and non-Christian fans. I
don’t deal with people in that kinda way.”
Impact over the years:
“I know I’ve had a lot of influence on people, but a lot of people have been an
influence on me, too. When I started, when I was coming up. I was influenced by everybody
that had formed the style I’d come up with. It’s not a bad thing to be influenced by other
Responsibility and the Protest movement:
“That was never my intention. To be responsible, to set an example for anybody, that’s
not my fault.”
What is believed to be the sexist overtones on Empire Burlesque. (Uproar from the
“What’s a sexist album? What does that mean. Sexist, I don’t know what you mean, I
have never met a man who is stereotyped.”
“I couldn’t live without them.”
The world:
“I am just as much anti-nuclear as anybody. Things have changed, you know. They
might still be the same, they might just look different.”
Change for the better:
“In the States they have. In a lot of different parts of the States, they have, sure.”
Changed for the better?
“For the better? In the United States? See, I can only speak for things in the United
States. Well, it’s like we’ve been talking, it’s true there’s a lot of oppression in the United
States. but it’s also true there’s more freedom there.”
How much of the music comes from the subconscious and how much are you a
medium for God?
“I don’t know. It gets less and less that’s pulled up from my subconscious. I used to
pull a lot of it up. I pull some of it up once in a while now, but not too often.”
Medium for God?
“I feel that way about most of the stuff I do. I may not know at the time that that’s
what happening, or that might be the process, but when I see it later it seems to me that that’s
the way it happens.”

Surprised his influence wasn’t stronger in ‘60s as the ministerial poet?
“Yeah, but see, poetry, it takes a long time to get your thing together. Everybody
expects (pause)… there’s this commercialism of stuff where if you’re a good looking kid or got
a good voice they expect you to be able to do it all. You may be good looking and you may
have a great voice, but if you’ve never had experience to go with it, you’re just gonna be
disposed of.
“There are quite a few people that did that (follow his lead). I think it does a lot
whether. you know it or not, because a lot of stuff that is really good, nobody is really turned
up to, you know. Most of the things you’re exposed to you just hear on the radio or television
and it’s like if it’s not on the radio or on the television it’s not happening, and that’s not true
at all. There’s a lot of stuff happening, but it’s not Just happening on that level.”
Music affecting society and politics.
“No, I don’t think so. I think they (music) can get into people’s subconscious minds,
maybe in a roundabout way, and they make people feel better. They feel that maybe
sometimes what they are thinking or feeling they can hear it articulated in a song and they
may think, yeah, I’m not so crazy to feel that way.”
If the credit for recent work lies with God, where does the credit for year early work lie?
“It’s all for God, you know.”
On patriotism and the scoundrel reference in “Sweetheart Like You” and is Patriot a
“Groups of people who use America for a stepping stone for a more powerful position
In the rest of the world. I mean, face it, there are people who are trying to gain control of the
entire world now, not just in America, but everywhere. There would seem like in future
there’s gonna be some man that wants to be powerful enough to rule the world, and why
The press — could he have made it without them?
“No. I could not have made it without their help. The press wasn’t that powerful when
I got started. I only got turned off the press in the mid-60s when record companies would
send me over to do an interview with someone and you’d be honest with that person and he’d
ask you questions and you answer them in an honest way and then you’d see the article
would come out and, not dishonest, but he’d take quotations and turn things around and
make you seem like a different kind of person by using everything that you gave him. So you
felt like you’d been suckered into something.
“Someone else has an idea about doing something to you and you were innocent and
didn’t know about it, so, after that I started to get turned off by the manner of the people who
were coming to interview you for a magazine.
“When I was talking about the press I wasn’t talking about war reporters or people
covering fires or investigating murders. I never meant that side of the press, just the side that
was pertaining to the entertainment section.”
“What career? I’ve never had a career. I am somebody that doesn’t work for a living.”
What does Bob Dylan think of Bob Dylan?
“Bob Dylan doesn’t ever think about Bob Dylan.”
Whey does he continue? Does he enjoy it?
“Well, this is about all I can really do. I don’t really remember doing anything else.”
But, you don’t have to?
“I don’t have to? … I don’t know.”

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