Bob Dylan has a lot on his mind

By Douglas Brinkley

A few years ago, sitting beneath shade trees in Saratoga Springs, New York, I had a two-hour discussion with Bob Dylan that touched on Malcolm X, the French Revolution, Franklin Roosevelt and World War II. At one juncture, he asked me what I knew about the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864. When I answered, “Not enough,” he got up from his folding chair, climbed into his tour bus and came back five minutes later with photocopies describing how U.S. troops had butchered hundreds of peaceful Cheyenne and Arapahoe in southeastern Colorado.

Given the nature of our relationship, I felt comfortable reaching out to him in April after, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, he unexpectedly released his epic, 17-minute song “Murder Most Foul,” about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Even though he hadn’t done a major interview outside of his own website since winning the Nobel Prize in literature in 2016, he agreed to a phone chat from his Malibu, California, home, which turned out to be his only interview before the release Friday of “Rough and Rowdy Ways,” his first album of original songs since “Tempest” in 2012.

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