In his Santa Monica rehearsal hall, there were no sunglasses to hide his steel blue eyes. At times, especially when I asked a question or he was just finishing his answer, he would stare deeply into my eyes as if he were looking into my mind. His presence was undeniably powerful.
Often he would pause in mid-sentence and gaze off into space. He would seem to be contemplating something. But then he would stop speaking and wait for a reaction or another question.
At times, he would speak very slowly with long, contemplative pauses between words. At other times, he would complete his sentences seemingly without contemplation.
There was intensity to his style, just as there has always been to his singing. His conversation was as transfixing as his performance onstage.
At times, Dylan’s manner and some of his answers made him seem distant. But, he made small talk about things back in Minnesota and, in the end, a certain warmth and unreluctant friendliness surfaced. Above all, the Marlboro-smoking, curly-haired guy in the white coveralls came across as a thinker, an observer, a man with a special vision.
Here are some excerpts from that conversation.
Q The film was supposed to open this week in New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis, but the Minneapolis theater operators would not book the film until they saw how it did in New York and L.A. Did their attitude surprise you? Did you expect reluctance from movie operators?
A No. No. I had no expectations.
Q Some people thought you might want to open the film in Minneapolis because haven’t performed there since 1965.
A No. That’s out of my hands – where I play.
Q Do you feel bad or guilty about not having played in Minneapolis in so long?
A No. No, you can’t play everywhere. We might get there this year.
Q You lived the first half of your life in Minnesota. What does Minnesota mean to you?
A That’s where I feel rooted, you know. I feel more familiar with the landscape, the people and the … earth, I think… I feel more at home there.
Q Do you get back very often?
A Yeah. Yeah, about every year I’ll make it. I make it necessary to do that.
strong>Q I’ve always felt that the energy and rhythm of a performer’s work often reflects the energy and rhythm of that person’s environment. You’ve live in Minnesota, New York and now L.A. Do you think that applies to your work?
A I feel Minnesota more than I feel New York or L.A…. My work reflects the thoughts I had as a little kid that have become superdeveloped.