The title of Jonathan Cott’s book both sums up its content and identifies the people who should read it. Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews includes 31 interviews of Dylan spanning five decades; it’s for readers who understand how interviews with the musician are “essential.”
Cott, a writer for Rolling Stone and The New Yorker and author of Dylan (a biography), knows something of Dylan’s significance not just for popular music, but for the globalized culture which reaches far beyond the borders of the United States. In his song “Highlands” Dylan identifies something of the reality of our common humanity, saying we are “prisoners in a world of mystery.” A mystery of brokenness and grace that he has helped those with ears to hear live in with greater clarity and wonder.
“Now for me,” Dylan said in 1991 describing composing music, “the environment to write the song is extremely important. The environment has to bring something out in me that wants to be brought out. It’s a contemplative, reflective thing. Feelings really aren’t my thing. See, I don’t write lies.”