Hi Reddit, Constantine Sandis and Gary Browning here, and we're here today to answer your questions on Bob Dylan's career and the multitudes that it contains. Is he a song and dance man? A political hero? A protest singer? A self-portrait artist who has yet to paint his masterpiece? Is he Shakespeare in the alley? The greatest living exponent of American music? An ironsmith? Internet radio DJ? Poet (who knows it)? Is he a spiritual and religious parking meter? Judas? The voice of a generation or a false prophet, jokerman, and thief? Dylan is all these and none. Ask Us Anything!

EDIT: Okay guys, that's a wrap on tonight! We have LOVED answering all of your great questions, and will be back again in October when our book is released. In the meantime, please pre-order our book from all major retailers!

and be sure to follow us on Twitter @ GaryBrowning15 and @ csandis

Comments: 301 • Responses: 37  • Date: 

Crowsong_Malingerer88 karma

A whole bunch of Poets from history often get cited as having a massive influence on Dylan. Looking at his entire catalogue of work, which Poets do you think had the greatest influence on him?

ImprintPublishing109 karma

Who is a poet? The songwriters Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie and Robert Johnson have had a big influence. I hear T.S Elliot, Yeats, Ovid and Shakespeare in Dylan.


Last_Conclusion_654769 karma

Is Dylan not just trolling the music industry at this point - not to mention his fans? He plays songs in such a way that people can't even sing along. What is he playing at? A sincere question.

ImprintPublishing41 karma

Gary and I saw him at his latest Hyde Park gig. He sang 'Like a Rolling Stone' in such a way that nobody could sing along. I don't know how intentional it was, but I kind of preferred it to the rock cliche of the whole crowd singing along. If you want that you can go to a Bruce Springsteen show (I love Bruce, but Bob is different).


DieselPoweredUnicycl47 karma

Why did Joni Mitchell say "“Bob is not authentic at all. He's a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception.”?

ImprintPublishing19 karma

I can't speak for Joni Mitchell's motives or intentions. Dylan certainly takes things from here, there and everywhere. I think Gary put his work in Turnitin once and they wrote an essay about it. What a thing to do!


coolguy1793B47 karma

I'd be curious to know what kinda modern music is he listens to... Does he like say techno/house, d&b, rap (Kendrick Lamar?), - anything really outside of what one might think is his wheelhouse. Or is he just all, everything is all shit right now?

ImprintPublishing37 karma

Dylan's work as a DJ was fabulous in that he played all kinds of music, including recent music. He listens and likes a lot of music. In songs he has mentioned Billy Joe Shaver, Eagles, Neil Young, Rolling Stones etc. He likes Cassandra Wilson too.


kickedthehabit45 karma

Was Dylan enthusiastic about being a Wilbury? His expressions in the videos say no and well…so does everything else.

Why is he so hard to get a handle on?

ImprintPublishing48 karma

He loved being a Wilbury. Or at least the first time round. He's not the type to let on though, and I think in more recent years he has replaced some of his irreverence with an earnest form of respect for the greats, like Roy Orbison.


the_shit_disturber45 karma

Why did Bob Dylan decide to do a cameo on Pawn Stars, of all shows? This was about 5 to 10 years ago

ImprintPublishing45 karma

No idea. I gather that Dylan's manager has said that he likes the show. Strange but Dylan tends to be quirky and relish being so.


melissacroft229 karma

What is your favourite Bob Dylan story?

ImprintPublishing45 karma

Probably the one where he visits the house of a plumber called Dave, thinking he's at Dave Stewart's house. And the plumber is out but his wife offers him a cup of tea.


TummyDrums24 karma

I'm a fan of Bob Dylan's and certainly recognize him as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, but I'm an even bigger fan of the late great John Prine (RIP). Back in the 70's Prine was called a "New Dylan" alongside Bruce Springsteen, and I've heard anecdotes about Prine being one of Dylan's favorite songwriters. Do you have any more information about any time the two might have interacted, or how Dylan feels/felt about him?

ImprintPublishing18 karma

Dylan is a big fan, as I am. He covered 'People Puttin People Down' in 1991. And they performed together at the Bitter End in the early seventies, during Prine's residency there (in '72 I think...they met the year before)


Johnny_Kilroy23 karma

Do you think Bob Dylan is a nice guy? 1-10 rating please.

ImprintPublishing27 karma

What is a nice guy? I would give Dylan 6/10. Some friends/collaborators have complained about him- Joan Baez, Phil Ochs. Yet others like former girl friend Suze Rotolo and long term friend Lou Kemp talk in more positive terms. There are other value than being nice-


TheLaughingMew22 karma

how did bob dylan get his voice in nashville skyline? why did he decide to abandon that voice

ImprintPublishing31 karma

It has been said that the Nashville Skyline voice came from stopping smoking for a while. More likely he was deliberately experimenting while changing musical style. it change again as styles changed.


bakere0522 karma

You almost never hear anything about his personal life. Does he have any hobbies?

ImprintPublishing40 karma

Dylan has lots of interests. Chess, boxing, American Civil War. All kinds of music- listen to his work as a DJ. Films- he loves films of all kinds. Religion- he is knowledgable. In fact, his recent song I Contain Multitudes is a tongue in cheek description of his many sidedness. You tend not to hear about his hobbies because he does not want to parade himself and so become overly familiar. He does not want that kind of public recognition and that reserve keeps the mystery and appeal.


theloosestofcannons20 karma

My wife said bob dylan sketched her as a baby while breastfeeding in a place in Mexico called yelapa.

Can anyone confirm that bob went down there in the late 70s?

ImprintPublishing22 karma

Not sure on dates but he has visited Mexican a lot. He filmed Pat Garrett and illy the Kind there in the early 70s.


majorjoe2316 karma

If the sun ain’t yellow, what is it?

ImprintPublishing33 karma

It's chicken.


trainsacrossthesea16 karma

What was Dylan’s relationship like (professionally and personally) with Sam Peckinpah? PGABTK had to occupy most of his time for at least half a year, I’m curious how much influence was cross pollinated during that process. Thanks for doing this!

ImprintPublishing20 karma

On the face of things they did not get on. Apparently Peckinpah was infuriated by Dylan, and allegedly urinated on the screen when seeing a playback of Dylan. Dylan has also talked of the weirdness of Peckinpah. And yet Dylan's music is used very effectively by Peckinpah and he draws a good acting performance from Dylan and Dylan has admiration for the films of Peckinpah and sympathy for the way Peckinpah was treated by the movie machine. Possibly, Senor from Street Legal acknowledges the influence of Peckinpah.


Carlos-Spiceyweiner14 karma

How many roads must a man walk down?

ImprintPublishing12 karma



ImprintPublishing9 karma

The answer is many and it could be said that Dylan has walked down an awful lot and he is still going. Perhaps there is no end destination and that is the meaning of Blowin in the Wind.


r00t114 karma

What can you tell us about Dylan’s plagiarism? The music may be an old folk tradition of stealing/borrowing, but how can he or anyone defend him stealing huge portions of his Nobel lecture from spark notes?

ImprintPublishing6 karma

Dylan's work will stand the test of time. It is true that he draws on lots of pre-existing stuff and that can be said to be illicit, but he tends to draw in some stuff and modify what's there. Both Constantine and I have written on this. Read Constantine's essay in the forthcoming book which focuses on Dylan's recent My Own Version of You, which arguably is about his taking bits and pieces from everywhere to create something ideal. Dylan says that if it was so east to draw on old material and make something new everyone would do it. I think most of what he does is justifiable in that we all of us are influenced by on going traditions and he has contributed to the further development of great blues and fold traditions. I have a doubt when he draws on say the relatively unknown Poet Henry Timrod on Modern Times but I like the way he uses old blues material on Love and Theft. In fast that whole album is arguably about his stealing and loving other songs and singers.


Last_Conclusion_654713 karma

What do we know about Dylan's relationship with religion? What has undergirded his forays thereto? Is Dylan authentically spiritual or has he been going through phase after full-blooded phase in search of something to ground him? One can obviously have 'mere' phases. How might we fairly characterise Dylan's various 'moments'?

ImprintPublishing16 karma

Dylan is keenly interested in religion. Lou Kemp, his lifelong friend comments on Dylan's expertise on religion- Jewish and Christian. From his songs, Dylan clearly is touched by religion. Early songs use religious language- Whe the Ship omes in; With God on Our Side and then later he converts to Christianity in the late 1970s and then it is said that he maintains an interest in Judaism. A number of his songs are driven by religious language and insights- Jokerman, Every Grain of Sand come to mind.


SobolGoda12 karma

First song you've listened to by Bob that really got you into him?

ImprintPublishing16 karma

Highway 61 Revisited.


ImprintPublishing11 karma

Too late is a great song!


reapersandhawks11 karma

As Dylan evolved, so too did his writing style no doubt, and his influences. There's a huge amount of intertextuality across his work from "in comes Romeo, he's moaning" back on Desolation Row to "I sing songs of experience, just like William Blake" on I Contain Multitudes. What's your personal favourite reference to literature or culture that Dylan has made?

ImprintPublishing13 karma

Dylan draws on so many sources. Personally I love the way he draws on old films (Bogart films) on the album Empire Burlesque (old cinema) and in particular the way he uses/adapts old lines from films to make a new brilliant song in Tight Connection to My Heart


RamsesThePigeon10 karma

Hey, folks, I have something of a weird question for you.

Back in the early 2000s, it seemed like the vast majority of my peers were aware of the "fact" that Bob Dylan had died of a heroin overdose at some point or another. As such, the release of "Modern Times" (and its subsequent success) caught many of us by surprise. We later joked that it was an example of the so-called "Mandela effect," but I've always been curious about the actual origins of the rumor that so many people apparently believed.

Can you shed any light on that? Was (or is) Dylan aware of the rumor?

ImprintPublishing14 karma

Was this an internet thing? The rumour never reached me. Perhaps I don't get out enough.


MeanMrMaxwell9 karma

How does he feel about the song "wagon wheel"?

ImprintPublishing13 karma

He allowed the changes from Rock me Mama to Wagon Wheel so I guess ok


YeahWhatOk9 karma

What can you tell us about Dylan's experience with the Hare Krishna movement?

ImprintPublishing10 karma

Dylan is open to trying lots of things. But he keeps on moving. Change is essential. I'm sure he got something out of it. But I doubt it spoke to him like it did to George Harrison. Or if it did, it was only for a moment.


mothermoonbird8 karma

Does he like his Christmas in the heart album?

ImprintPublishing8 karma

I hope so - I love it!

I wrote a little tribute to it: https://constantinesandis.medium.com/christmas-with-bob-dylan-8ae1124633bb


MDrok61728 karma

How great would you say his contribution to modern society and music is today? In the 60s I know he was very important in regards to counter-culture. Also I was named after him.

ImprintPublishing14 karma

Dylan's contribution is immense. 60s he gave a voice to feelings and political life. Later he also mapped the times in his personal songs, religious songs and in his more recent songs reflective of ageing and experience/traditions


Chelluri9998 karma

How was he as a friend?

ImprintPublishing8 karma

Some friends speak very well of him- Lou Kemp; others less so


BowieKingOfVampires8 karma

We ever getting Chronicles Vol 2?

ImprintPublishing12 karma

Maybe. The first volume is great and it was a long time coming. We will get the second volume when we are not expecting it. It would be wonderful to hear about the background to the making of Blood n the Tracks and Blonde of Blonde- two of his greatest albums.


cicalino7 karma


ImprintPublishing17 karma

Dylan's songs will certainly stand the test of time. I am not sure about this rumour about the Travelling Wilbury's..But he does compose during sessions and it is said that the wonderful Dark Eyes was written at the last and that he worked on Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands in the studio. The wonderful Tweeter and the Monek Man on the first Wilburys album was worked over by Dylan and Tom Petty.


TheGroverA7 karma

How do you think Dylan will stand the test of time? His influence does not seem to be waning just yet, but many of his contemporaries such as the Rolling Stones, are getting less and less relevant and influential (outside of older generations) by the year. Another related question would be: how do you think us Dylanologists can help sustain his legacy and introduce him to people who maybe are younger?

ImprintPublishing8 karma

Right now he's doing well. He was talking about the environment in Licence to Kill when nobody cared. He was talking about Black Lives Mattering and saying the names of those who had been murdered: Hettie Carroll, Emmett Till, Medgar Evans, George Jackson... But time is weird and no one really knows what it's ultimate test is. As for Dylanologists, Bob doesn't seem to be keen on them (would you be?) but his management can't get enough. Some of them are doing amazing work. I'm pleased that we are seeing a new wave of younger Dylanologists, especially women.


mpers13247 karma

Is Self-Portrait Dylan’s most underrated album or would it be a less popular release from the 80s or 90s?

ImprintPublishing8 karma

Gary is a fan of Knocked Out Loaded, so there's that. Also Down in the Groove and the Hearts of Fire soundtrack. I think his most underrated songs are Wiggle Wiggle and It's Unbelievable from under the Red Sky. I hope we get all the sessions from that album in a future box set release.


LineAbdomen6 karma

Did Bob Dylan ask Guns N Roses when were they going to cover “knockin on heavens door”?

ImprintPublishing6 karma

Not that I know of. But now you've got me curious.


spaghettiyo6 karma

how does mr bob feel about pop legend and icon Kesha idolizing him and using him as inspiration her entire career?

ImprintPublishing10 karma

Not sure how Dylan takes Kesha. On the whole he is relaxed about people singing his songs. He does pick out some like Nina Simone and Hendrix as being important.


stanleydragon4 karma

Hey there!

I was wondering what in Dylan’s upbringing lead to his distinct way of writing lyrics?

ImprintPublishing4 karma

Upbringing was moral and he picked up culture in school and songs/music from the radio.


typesett3 karma

As someone who is more towards the middle of the road from Dylan's heyday to today's generation — my opinion is he is probably not going to translate great for future generations. I can tell you that he is already hit or miss in my generation amongst music lovers. How do you feel about this?

ImprintPublishing3 karma

Dylan will last. His recent albums are great and they will be listened to by other generations.


no-signal-found2 karma

What is YOUR favorite film?

ImprintPublishing7 karma

A big question. My favourite film is Wim Wender's Paris Texas, which depended on the talents of Sam Shephard (script) and Harry Dean Stanton (actor) and they were together on the Rolling Thunder Review and vowed to work together afterwards and this film Paris Texas is real, gritty and yet poetic and emotional- Dylanesque.


midgetickler2 karma

Is he at least a Nobel laureate?

ImprintPublishing10 karma

That's the least of it. He has won many awards- Grammy, Academy Award and Nobel Peace Price.