Bob Dylan gives interviews about as frequently as he scores chart hits. Once you see the ridiculous line of questioning to which he's subjected in Dylan Speaks, you'll understand why. Five months after Dylan "went electric" at the Newport Folk Festival and was roundly booed, he agreed to an hour-long press conference at San Francisco's KQED-TV studio, in which the 24-year-old counterculture icon was peppered with a steady onslaught of inane queries from mainstream media sharpies determined to find out what this folk singer turned pop star was all about.
A studious-looking beatnik dude sets the tone for the unintentional hilarity to follow by asking Dylan very seriously what deep philosophical message he was trying to convey by choosing to wear a Triumph motorcycle T-shirt in an album cover photo, to which Dylan shrugs, "I didn't give it much thought." The interrogation continues unabated, with Dylan showing admirable patience in responding to whatever is tossed his way from "What poets do you dig?" and "Do you still sing your old songs?" to "How long does it take to write a song?" and "How many songs have you written?"
One veteran newsman, unafraid to look like an imbecile in front of his peers, stands up and boldly asks, "For the people here over 30, could you label yourself and tell us what your role is?" Dylan just chuckles and says, "I'm well under 30," before taking the next question. When another clever fellow wants to know his definition of folk music, Dylan fires back, "The constitutional replay of mass production." Now that's comedy!
Bob Dylan plays the Air Canada Centre Tuesday (November 7).