Like many great artists, Bob Dylan has made a career and reputation out of playing with ambiguities. After all, we are talking about a man who told an entire generation that the answers to many of life's vexing questions were blowing in the wind but famously never provided the answers.
In May, Dylan hinted through his website (cryptically, though, through a sneak YouTube release of a single track and an image that was interpreted as an album cover) that in early 2015 he would be releasing an album of songs made famous by Frank Sinatra.
The album, "Shadows in the Night," finally will come out on Feb. 3. And as has become customary with new Dylan releases, the singer carefully selected only a couple of outlets to talk about the project. Over the past few years he usually chose publications like Rolling Stone magazine or Newsweek, and occasionally he has even published exclusive interviews with friends and associates through his own website.
This time around, however, Dylan chose to talk to AARP magazine, which promotes itself as "the world's largest-circulation magazine, with more than 47 million readers." (Though Robert Love, the editor in chief of the magazine who conducted the interview, tells Dylan it's more like 35 million readers. In any case, it's a lot of readers.)
On how people should obtain Dylan's music in the 21st century: "The business end of the record — it’s none of my business. I sure hope it sells, and I would like people to listen to it. But the way people listen to music has changed, and I hope they get a chance to hear all the songs in one way or another. [...] If it was up to me, I’d give you the records for nothing and you give them to every [reader of your] magazine."
On the permanence of standards vs. his own 1960s material: "A song like 'I'm a Fool to Want You' — I know that song. I can sing that song. I've felt every word in that song. I mean, I know that song. It's like I wrote it. It's easier for me to sing that song than it is to sing 'Won't you come see me, Queen Jane.' At one time that wouldn't have been so. But now it is. Because 'Queen Jane' might be a little bit outdated. But this song is not outdated. It has to do with human emotion. There's nothing contrived in these songs. There's not one false word in any of them. They're eternal."