By Matt Dolloff (@mattdolloff)
If you’ve seen the iconic documentary Don’t Look Back, chronicling Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour, you’ve undoubtedly seen the infamous interview in which he absolutely eviscerated a TIME magazine reporter in spectacular fashion. In honor of the interview’s 50th anniversary, watch the clip above.
Dylan let everyone know how he felt about his critics in his famous lyrics from “The Times They Are A-Changing”, “Come writers and critics who prophesize with your pen,” and later overbearing parents with “Don’t criticize what you can’t understand.” This poor writer from TIME Magazine met with Dylan before his show at Royal Albert Hall on May 9, 1965, and found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He met a man who was at the end of his rope with the press, who took all his anger out on one guy.
“You’re gonna see the concert tonight? Are you gonna hear it?” he asks the man, before launching into this beautiful tirade:
“You’re gonna hear it and see it, and it’s gonna happen fast, and you’re not gonna get it all, and you might even hear the wrong words. I won’t be able to talk to you afterwards, I got nothing to say about these things I write. I just write them. I don’t have anything to say about them, I don’t write them for any reason. There’s no great message. If you want to tell other people that, go ahead and tell them. But I’m not gonna have to answer to it. And they’re just gonna think, ‘What is this ‘TIME’ Magazine telling us?’ But you couldn’t care less about that, either. You don’t know the people who read you…I’ve never been in TIME Magazine, I don’t need ‘TIME’ Magazine. I don’t think I’m a folk singer, you’ll probably call me a folk singer – but the other people know better. The people who buy my records and listen to me don’t necessarily read TIME Magazine.”
Dylan clearly wasn’t a fan of any news magazines, painting them as publications with “too much to lose by printing the truth.” He didn’t take them seriously, and in turn didn’t take the interviewer seriously. He even tries to tell the journalist he knows more about what he does than he knows himself.
The one quote where Dylan is hard to believe is “You’re not gonna make me feel unhappy by anything you print about me. You couldn’t offend me, and I’m sure I couldn’t offend you.” If the press didn’t make him unhappy, it would be hard to believe he’d go on this rant in the first place.
Whatever side of the fence you fall on here, it’s a fascinating video and an insightful look into how Dylan acted and operated in his early days as a music superstar. He didn’t take kindly to the written word from people who didn’t know him personally or understand anything about them, he got fed up, and took it all out on this one guy. Fair or not, it’s entertaining as hell to watch.