09/18/2012 11:20 am ET Updated Nov 18, 2012

Bob Dylan on Voting, Touring, Obama and Being 'Misunderstood'

"SHOULD WE vote?"

"Uh... "

"Should we do that? Should we vote?"

"Yeah, why not vote? Respect the voting process. Everybody ought to have the right to vote. We live in a democracy. What do you want me to say? Voting is a good thing."

"I was curious if you vote?"


And so it goes between Rolling Stone writer Mikal Gilmore and Bob Dylan, in the latest issue. Dylan has a new, acclaimed album out, Tempest. Gilmore and Dylan spend a good deal of time talking about that, and Dylan's past music.

Several things Dylan says struck me in this Q&A. One was his vivid, charming description of growing up in rural small-town America -- the woods, the rivers, and when the carnival came to town. He also talks about touring:

Is there something strange about touring? About playing live shows? Willie Nelson's been playing for years and nobody asks him why he still tours. Look, you travel different places and you encounter things you might not encounter if you stayed home. And you get to play music for the people. Ask any performer or entertainer... they'll tell you the same thing. They like doing it and that it means a lot to people.

Asked about President Obama, Dylan retorts: "What do I think of him? I like him. But you're asking the wrong person. You know who you should be asking that to? You should ask his wife what she thinks of him. She's the only one that really matters." Feeling pressed, Dylan continues: "Look, I only met him a few times. He loves music. He's personable. He dresses good. What the f**k do you want me to say?"

The interview, which is massive, contains a lot of Dylan's philosophies, which aren't terribly complicated. At one point, reacting to Gilmore's questions about being "misunderstood." Dylan laughs and says, "What is there to understand? Please can we stop now?"

Toward the end, Dylan observes, "Everything people say about me or you they are saying about themselves. They're telling about themselves. Ever notice that?"

The man is still a fascinating, confounding read. Although it is likely I'll probably never listen to an entire Dylan album.

  • P.S. And speaking of touring, in the same issue of RS, Rob Sheffield reviews Madonna's "MDNA" tour, now in the U.S. The headline: "Madonna's Last Stand? Never!" This spectacular endeavor is reviewed positively, and ends with the writer observing, "Every time we think we're over Madonna, we end up chasing her down the street... that "is she over?' question will always keep coming up. And make no mistake, Madonna will always get a perverse kick out of it."
  • NOT much amuses me about current stars or current pop culture, but the recent rumors that the Kristen Stewart/Rob Pattinson/Rupert Sanders "scandal" was nothing more than a jointly-agreed-upon-publicity stunt did pique my attention. Apparently, there is a great big conspiracy theory out there roaming the Internet, insisting the infamous "indiscretion" photos of Miss Stewart and her married director Mr. Sanders were either doctored or deliberately staged. It has all been to the benefit of all involved insist the theorists, even the "fallen woman" herself -- Kristen.
  • Funny stuff. But just yesterday I read that Pattinson might have already "forgiven" his Twilight crush and they are on the road to reconciliation. It's difficult to believe four people would put themselves through such a firestorm, especially when two of them -- Pattinson and Stewart -- are already famous, even though notoriously lackluster as actors and personalities. Still, this is the age of conspiracy and complete cynicism. Nobody believes anything. Everybody believes everything.

The long-gone image-makers of Hollywood's Golden Age must be spinning.

  • I AM finding it difficult to muster up a lot of outrage over the topless photo scandal erupting around Kate Middleton. Of course her privacy was invaded. Of course it's sleazy to publish the shots worldwide. Of course she's embarrassed. (Though her pert bosom is nothing to be ashamed of.)
  • But, come on. These are members of Britain's royal family, relentlessly pursued by paparazzi. There is absolutely no guarantee of complete privacy from prying eyes unless one is behind closed doors and shuttered windows. Prince William and his wife were foolish to think they might get away with sunbathing semi-nude. Naïve in the extreme.
  • William and Kate don't have the excuse of being drunk in Las Vegas, either, like randy Prince Harry. In the carrying on over this, I was reminded of those long-ago shots of a nude Brad Pitt, vacationing with topless Gwyneth Paltrow. They were on a patio. At the time I thought, "Would it have been so hard to put on speedo?"
  • The royal family should just ignore this. Because it's not going away.
  • For all the Hollywood types who continue to be "tepid" on Barack Obama, take a look at Tina Daunt's "7 Ways Mitt Romney Would Change Hollywood" in the current Hollywood Reporter. Food for thought, all you honchos and execs and actors, too. And not all of it especially tasty food, either.