Ben Kweller on Bob Dylan

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How did you first get into Bob Dylan?

When i first started dating my wife, Lizzy, I was 18 and moved up to Connecticut to live with her. Her dad was a big Dylan fan, whereas, my dad raised me on his Beatles and British invasion records. So she really got me into Dylan and my mind was blown…

How has he influenced your music?

I think his sheer prolificacy has inspired me to be less precious about every song and detail and remember that it’s just a song.

How many times have you seen him play live? What were those shows like?

I only saw him once in New Jersey, around 2001 or ’02. I was pretty bummed actually because at the time, I had been immersed in Another Side, Bringin’ It All Back Home, etc., and I was expecting to see “young Bob Dylan.” It was my own unrealistic expectations, that led to my disappointment. If I saw that show today, I’d have a completely different perception.

Does it bother you that he borrows so much in his music?

No, not at all. Someone told me once, “It’s not what you take, it’s where you take it…”

Did it take you awhile to get into Bob Dylan, given his strange singing style?

No, I was in from the get go. Even if you have issues with his tone, you can’t deny his words and delivery. I absolutely love the tone of his voice and how it’s changed over the years. I like that his singing style on Nashville Skyline is very different from all other Dylan records.

Do you have a favorite Bob Dylan quote or lyric?

The entirety of “Spanish Harlem Incident.” The entirety of “Hard Rain.” And so many more…

Is there a period of Dylan’s music you think is underrated or overrated?

I think Another Side gets over looked, even his first album; to hear him so young and getting started. I love that stuff. In terms of good songs, I don’t think he’s overrated one bit.

What do you admire about Bob Dylan?

I admire the sheer amount of great f***ing songs he’s written.

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