Bob Dylan

Every singer has three or four or five techniques, and you can force them together in different combinations. Some of the techniques you discard along the way, and pick up others. But you do need them. It’s just like anything. You have to know certain things about what you’re doing that other people don’t know. Singing has to do with techniques and how many you use at the same time. One alone doesn’t work. There’s no point to going over three. But you might interchange them whenever you feel like it. It’s a bit like alchemy.

Early on, before rock ‘n’ roll, I listened to big band music – anything that came over the radio – and music played by bands in hotels that our parents could dance to. We had a big radio that looked like a jukebox, with a record player on the top. The radio/record player played 78rpm records. When we moved to that house, there was a record on there, with a red label. It was Bill Monroe, or maybe it was the Stanley Brothers. I’d never heard anything like that before. Ever. And it moved me away from all the conventional music that I was hearing.

Up north, you could find these radio stations with no name on the dials that played pre-rock ‘n’ roll things – country blues. We would hear Slim Harpo or Lightnin’ Slim and gospel groups, the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Five Blind Boys of Alabama. I was so far north, I didn’t even know where Alabama was.

A brilliant 1989 album, Oh Mercy; some career retrospectives; and two albums of American folk songs, with just Bob Dylan and his guitar and harmonica. All that culminated in the Grammy-winning comeback album, Time Out of Mind (1997). Once again, just as Dylan seemed to be out of it, he was back at the top of his game.

Fame it’s like… When you look through a window, say you pass a little pub, or an inn. You look through the window and you see people talking and carrying on. You,can watch outside the window and see them all being very real with each other. But when you walk into the room, it’s over. I don’t pay any attention to it.