Dylan turns 78! Some of the hilarious anecdotes that happened to Bob Dylan. Here some of the best.
Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941)
Rivers of stories, biographies, books and short interviews have been written about Dylan. Among these there are some really little known (sources: Amazon, The Telegraph, Indipendent, at, Youtube, Reddit.com, Vulture). We publish an excerpt of this article that appeared on Vulture.
He Called Carrie Fisher to Brainstorm Names for Cologne
In her memoir Wishful Drinking, Fisher writes about getting a call from Dylan. He’d been asked to endorse a cologne called Just Like a Woman, but he didn’t like that name and wanted her advice on alternates. She gave him a few sarcastic options: “Ambivalence, for the scent of confusion”; “Arbitrary, for the man who doesn’t gave a shit how he smells”; and “Empathy — feel like them and smell like this.” To her surprise, “Bob actually liked those!”
He Annoyed Joni Mitchell
As recounted in Brian Hinton’s Joni Mitchell bio Both Sides Now, the Canadian singer-songwriter had a bad experience sharing a microphone with Dylan at a concert in Japan in 1994. “On the third night they stuck Bob at the mic with me … and he never brushes his teeth, so his breath was like … right in my face.” For what it’s worth, Mitchell has needled Dylan over the years, saying, among other things, “I like a lot of Bob Dylan’s songs, though musically he’s not very gifted.”
He Uses an Anise-Flavored Aperitif As a Hair Relaxer
This one’s popped up a bunch of places: Dylan uses ouzo to tame his curly hair. Maybe that’s what Joni Mitchell smelled in Japan?
He Was Picked Up by New Jersey Police for Looking Like a Hobo
In Long Branch, New Jersey, in 2009, Dylan, who was in town for a concert, decided to take a stroll. This did not go well. A couple of police officers, responding to complaints about a “scruffy old man acting suspiciously” picked up the ID-less singer. He was taken back to his hotel, where the reception staff explained to the officers who, exactly, they’d picked up.
His Dog Fouled Katherine Hepburn’s Flowers
For a time, Dylan rented a home next door to Katharine Hepburn in Manhattan’s Turtle Bay neighborhood. According to his aide-de-camp Victor Maymudes, Dylan let his Bullmastiff, Brutus, “shit in her flowerbed all the time.” And these weren’t dainty droppings. “The dog could really lay some logs,” Maymudes wrote. “I think if it was a small dog, [Hepburn] wouldn’t have cared.”
His Dog Also Ate Michael Douglas’s Caviar (watch below)
Michael Douglas tells a story about being invited by George Harrison to hang out with hi m and Dylan. “George Harrison walks in with Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan has the biggest dog you’ve ever seen in your life.” Douglas orders some caviar for the trio, which Dylan’s dog (Brutus again?) promptly devours. “Bob Dylan hadn’t said a word yet,” Douglas recalls, “then finally he looks over and goes ‘ This dog is far out.’”
He Confused a Famous BBC Talk-Show Host for a Waiter
Michael Parkinson is a distinguished English talk-show host, whose show Parkinson aired on the BBC for 33 years. So what? I couldn’t pick him out of a lineup, and, according to Parkinson, neither could Dylan. Parkinson had approached Dylan at a restaurant to tell him that he loved his music. Dylan’s reply? “Eggs over easy and coffee.”
He Gave Axl Rose Some Cold, Hard Truth
Axl Rose was in a rare expansive mood at a 2009 concert in Taiwan. Speaking to the audiencein between songs, Rose mentioned meeting Dylan years before: “Bob asked me, ‘When you gonna record ‘Heaven’s Door’? And I said, ‘I don’t know, but we really love that song.’ And he said, ‘I don’t give a fuck. I just want the money.’ True story!”
He Actually Has Mixed Feelings About Guns N’ Roses
GNR recorded a cover of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”in 1991. The following year, Dylan was asked what he thought: “Guns N’ Roses is okay, Slash is okay, but there’s something about their version of the song that reminds me of the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”
He Confused the Replacements With R.E.M.
Bob Mehr’s Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacementsis one of the best recent rock biographies. It’s also got a great little Dylan story. The Replacements were recording in the same studio in Hollywood as Dylan, then working on Under the Red Sky. And one day, Dylan showed up at the younger band’s session. Mehr quotes engineer Clif Norrell: “He was saying, ‘My kid loves you; my son’s really into your band.’ You could see [the Replacements’]eyes light up, and then Dylan goes, ‘You’re R.E.M., right?’”
He Got His Daves Confused
Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics had invited Dylan to come by his studio in London, and
the latter took him up on the offer — or tried to anyway. “He got my address wrong. He went up to this house, rang the doorbell and a woman came to the door. He said, ‘Is Dave here?’ and her husband was called Dave, so she said, ‘No, he’s at work’ and Bob was going, ‘He’s at work? That’s funny, I thought I was supposed to come around here.’… By the time he got round to my place he was really flustered … he’s a funny chap.”
He Boxed, He Just Wasn’t Supposed to Be Punched
Dylan is a well-known boxing fan, and used to spar for exercise. Comedian Daniel Russ was at a gym in Austin, Texas, in 2008 when he was asked to get in the ring: “In comes a diminutive, skinny man. Looks to be a little older than me, has short curly hair. He turns to face me. It’s Bob Dylan.” Russ
tells the gym owner, “If you paid me by the shot, I wouldn’t hit this guy ever.” The gym owner says, “Good. Don’t.”
He Tried to Mess With Aimee Mann
The great wry singer-songwriter Aimee Mann told a story on “The Best Show” on WFMU about being summoned to meet Dylan while opening for him on a tour. They get into a conversation about the music they each like to listen to, and Dylan says, “The only thing I can’t stand, though, is, I can’t stand those story songs.” Which Mann realizes is weird, since he’s written a huge amount of those. She calls him out: “You mean like ‘Tangled Up in Blue?’” Dylan says he doesn’t play that one anymore. Mann points out he’d played it the night before.
He Wanted to Be Left Alone. Then Got Lonely.
The late concert promoter Bill Graham understood that Dylan could be prickly. So in advance of a tour in the ’70s, he told the road crew to keep their distance. As he explained in his memoir Bill Graham Presents, the staff obeyed — too well: “In the third or fourth city in the middle of the night, someone knocked on the door of my hotel room. I opened the door and it was Bob. He came in. I could see he had a problem. I said, ‘Is everything okay, Bob? Something’s wrong?’ He said, ‘Bill, why isn’t anybody talking to me?’” Aw.
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He Napped in Neil Young’s Hearse
In the Neil Young biography Shakey, artist Sandy Mazzeo remembers taking Young’s ’54 Pontiac hearse for a drive. (This is in the mid-’70s.) Mazzeo hears a series of loud bangs. “I’m thinkin’, Oh my God, it’s a ghost.’ I look in the rearview mirror and it’s Bob.” Dylan had, for whatever reason, climbed into the back of the vehicle and gone to sleep. “Dylan was in his turban stage, and he’d slept in his turban and it had come all undone — he looked like the mummy.”
He Whizzed Out a Window
Again from Aronowitz’s papers, this time telling of Dylan’s arrival to perform at the U.K.’s Isle of Wight festival in 1969. The singer gets peeved when he sees there’s no toilet in his dressing room. “I don’t want to have to go outside to look for some place to pee!” said an aggrieved Dylan to Aronowitz, who’d helped to organized the trip. “How come you didn’t get ‘em to get me a dressing room with a toilet?” Aronowitz offers that maybe Dylan could tinkle out the window. “If my memory serves me,” Aronowitz wrote, “this was one time Bob ended up doing what I suggested.”
He Had an Allen Iverson–esque Attitude Toward Practice
Former Dylan touring guitarist César Díaz has told a story about going into Dylan’s dressing room and asking to rehearse. Dylan’s usual response: “I don’t need to fuckin’ practice.”
He Called the Counting Crows a Turd
Another Díaz story: “I would go … ‘Bob, the guy from the Counting Crows, he wants to be you.’ And that was before they did that ’Mr. Jones’thing, you know. And he goes, ‘Yeah, look at them. What a piece of shit.’”
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