How does it feel, Bob Dylan asked in his 1965 solo Like a Rolling Stone, to be alone with no direction to go home?
Now, 57 years later, he’s finally given us the answer – it makes you feel like walking around and watching Coronation Street.
In a rare interview, Dylan said the long-running ITV soap is what he likes to turn on when he wants to feel “at home”. He finds it much better than the “disgusting” recent broadcast shows, preferring to spend his time watching adaptations of The Twilight Zone and GK Chesterton.
“I’ve been immersed lately in Coronation Street, Father Brown and some early Twilight spots,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “I know they’re old-fashioned, but they make me feel right at home. I’m not a fan of boxed shows or news shows. I’ve never watched anything stinky or evil. Nothing disgusting, nothing repulsive.”
It’s unclear why Coronation Street, which began broadcasting in 1960 — two years before Dylan, 81, released his eponymous debut album — reminds him back home.
But Manchester Free Trade Hall was the site of one of music’s most controversial moments in 1966, when a reviewer dubbed Dylan “Judas” for going electric during a set—and changing the course of rock history. He returned to town after 56 years last month, playing Apollo on his Rough and Rowdy Ways tour.
But for fans that night, he was betraying his folk roots. Dylan overheard the harassment and shouted, “I don’t believe you. You’re a liar,” before telling his band to play louder.
Coronation Street made several references to the moment, as the characters discuss Ken Barlow for attending the concert and tease Dylan.
In a wide-ranging interview, the 81-year-old revealed his thoughts on streaming services, saying they made music “very smooth and painless.”
“Everything is very easy,” he said. “Just one stroke of the ring finger, the middle finger, one little tap, that’s all it takes. We just dropped the coin straight into the slot… You only need a solar X-ray detector to find someone’s heart, see if it’s still He has a heart.”
He added that while he listens to music on CD, satellite radio and live, he still likes the sound of old vinyl—”especially on a tube record player from back in the day”.
He added, “I bought three at an antique store in Oregon about 30 years ago. The tone quality is so powerful and miraculous, and it has so much depth. It always takes me back to the days when life was different and unpredictable.”
Dylan also said he discovered new music “mostly by accident” and praised the work of a range of artists including Jack White, the Arctic Monkees, Alex Turner, William and Noel Gallagher, the Wu Tang Clan and Eminem.
He offered a more nuanced look at social media, saying that it brings happiness to many people. “Some people even find love there. I think it’s a wonderful thing. But they can also divide us and separate us. Turn people against each other.”
Dylan has sold over 125 million records and has won countless awards including 10 Grammys, an Oscar, and a National Book Award for his 2004 book Chronicles, Volume I. In 2016, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
He has continued to produce, releasing last month a new book, The Philosophy of Modern Song, a collection of essays in which he muses on the 66 songs he holds dear. During the lockdown, he announced his first album of original songs in eight years, Rough and Rowdy Ways.
Dylan also recounted how he spent the lockdown, describing it as “a very surreal time” and likening it to “being visited by another planet or by a mythical monster”.
He added, “But it was also useful. It eliminated a lot of personal hassle and needs; it was nice not having a watch. I changed the door panels on an old ’56 Chevy, painted some landscape paintings, and wrote a song called You Don’t Say. I listened.” To the Peggy Lee Records I’ve re-read Rime of the Ancient Mariner many times What a story!
I listened to the Mothers of Invention record Freak Out!, which I hadn’t heard in a very long time. Frank Zappa was light years ahead of his time.
“If there were any opium around, I might have been down for a while.”
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