This quirky, exclusive video from Australian singer-songwriter Henry Wagons puts a different spin on Bob Dylan’s immortal opening line from “Positively 4th Street,” by putting man’s best friend in a co-starring role.
“‘Positively 4th Street’ is one of the best mental disintegrations in history,” notes Wagons. “Bob Dylan is known for articulating moments, movements and emotions in such a powerful way. This song is no exception. It’s the best hate and exasperation song ever.”
Get a free download of Wagons’ “Positively 4th Street” here.
How did you first get into Bob Dylan?
I think the first Bob Dylan record I ever owned was The Basement Tapes, which he recorded haphazardly in a party basement with The Band. I slammed that record at the time. I got the album while I was staying in New York in my early twenties. I was drinking so much coffee, spending most of my time in cafes, so it made sense to get some Dylan. He pedaled his trade and left his imprint on cafe culture there. I’m talking the 60s, not so much the caramel frappucino scene.
How has he influenced your music?
He is a ground-breaking folk melody maker and lyricist. I can only hope he influences my music somehow. He is more of an inspirational figure than a direct influence.
How many times have you seen him play live? What were those shows like?
I saw him play for the first time just recently at a big festival in Byron Bay, Australia called Bluesfest. It coincided with me buying my first ever chili-infused coffee from a Moroccan food tent at the festival. They were the perfect match. Both Bob and the coffee were kinda spicy and bitter, but in the best possible way. He turned off all the screens so no one could see him and he played all of his songs quite differently to what many were expecting. I thought it was a proud and bold artistic statement and I loved every minute. He is a cheeky bastard and I love him for it.
Did it take you awhile to get into Bob Dylan, given his strange singing style?
I am drawn to the strange like a moth to the flame. His vocal character is instantly recognizable and also has a tone that makes you listen and trust its message. What his voice lacks in smoothness he makes up for in poise and weight of words.
What’s the closest you’ve ever gotten to him?
The closest I’ve ever gotten to him was backstage at the Bluesfest I mentioned above. I saw him from a distance reveling in a conversation with Michael Frante outside his tour bus. I thought it was an odd pairing.
Do you have a favorite Bob Dylan quote or lyric?
Not to dwell on the negative, but “Positively 4th Street” is one of the most powerful lyrics ever. Such pure spite and poetic hate:
I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment
I could be you
Yes, I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
You’d know what a drag it is
To see you
What are some of your favorite songs or albums, and why?
Though I love a lot of Dylan’s early songs, I have a soft spot for his later work too! Probably the full album I have listened to the most is Love and Theft. That album is so dirty and old. I love it. Its like Dylan is a 1,000 year old sage preaching from the back of a broken down pick up.
Is there a period of Dylan’s music you think is underrated or overrated?
It’s hard to say any of his music is underrated. Though his “Christian phase” or much of his later work doesn’t really have the same legacy as some of his more legendary material, its still heard and loved by hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of people. He is such a force in popular culture that most artists would kill to make a record with the reputation of his most hated albums.
What do you admire about Bob Dylan?
I admire his sticking to his own artistic vision, in the face of plenty of wowsers. Luckily for him, those wowsers are vastly outnumbered by worshippers. I also love his hats, and he occasionally wields a very cool moustache.
Is Dylan as big a deal in Australia as he is in the U.S?
Australia is known for having a huge variety of ‘big’ tourist attractions dotted around the country. The Big Banana, The Big Koala, The Big Prawn, The Big Pineapple…the list goes on. Bob is bigger than all of them.