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"Before I was born," he says. He was introduced to the Bible in grade school and he has been reading it regularly ever since.
On this occasion he is shying away, for the most part, from the long, philosophical and often cryptic answers with which he has been known to confound interviewers. He might cite a line from a Neil Young song or a quote from a James Taylor interview to illustrate his point, but mostly he is direct and straightforward.
After all these years, what motivates him?
He contemplates the question. "Not greed, I hope." He ponders for a moment. "Righteous instincts."
Dylan cuts a striking rock 'n' roll figure standing in the wings of the Greek Theater stage in black leather frock and black leather jeans. A long silver earring hangs from his left ear and fingerless black gloves cover his hands.
It's precisely 8 o'clock. A half-hour earlier the singer had announced to his entourage that tonight's show would start on time.
Petty and the Heartbreakers have assembled in the wings with Dylan. The four female backup singers (Dylan likes to introduce them as "my own Heartbreakers") are ready in the wings on the opposite side of the stage. Dylan turns to the visiting journalist and asks: "What do you think of the album?"
"I really like `They Killed Him.' I think the times are right, and people are ready for that kind of song from you."
"It's a Kris Kristofferson song I heard years ago," he says.
It's now 8:01. Dylan takes a quick sip of bourbon and water from his cup. He puts on his game face. Then he strides out to center stage to a thunderous ovation.