Bob Dylan Calls His Critics “Wussies” Who “Can Rot In Hell”
Interviewer Mikal Gilmore writes in the introduction to the cover story that Dylan "opened up unflinchingly, with no apologies," and that's certainly true when it comes to the legend taking on his critics, especially those who've accused him of plagiarizing literary figures. "People have tried to stop me every inch of the way," Dylan says in the interview. "They've always had bad stuff to say about me… F--- 'em. I'll see them all in their graves."
Dylan also refers to those who've passed judgment on him as "wussies and pussies," "idiots (who) don't know what they're talking about," and "evil motherf---ers (who) can rot in hell."
And, perhaps the Dylan quote to end all Dylan quotes: "Why is it that when people talk about me they have to go crazy? What the f--- is the matter with them?" It's not quite the same as "How many roads must a man walk down...," but close enough for the 21st century.
The purpose behind this fascinating and very rare interview—which officially hits the streets on Friday—was to promote the highly acclaimed new album Tempest, which arrived in stores this week. And Dylan does discuss in detail the songs he wrote on the new record about the Titanic and John Lennon. But the sections of the conversation that are likely to get the most attention have to do with his unsentimental recollections of the 1960s, his refusal to say much about President Obama, and the choice four-letter words he reserves for some of the detractors who've gotten under his skin.
When Gilmore inquires about scholars having found Dylan borrowing chunks of the work of Japanese author Junichi Saga and Civil War poet Henry Timrod for lyrics on some of his most recent albums, the singer/songwriter gets his gander up.
Dylan agrees with Gilmore's suggestion that "in folk and jazz, quotation is a rich and enriching tradition" and adds: "I mean, everyone else can do it but not me. There are different rules for me. And as far as Henry Timrod is concerned, have you even heard of him? Who's been reading him lately? And who's pushed him to the forefront? Who's been making you read him? And ask his descendants what they think of the hoopla. And if you think it's so easy to quote him and it can help your work, do it yourself and see how far you can get. Wussies and pussies complain about that stuff. It's an old thing—it's part of the tradition. It goes way back."
He goes on, "These are the same people that tried to pin the name Judas on me," referring to a famous 1966 concert where someone shouted the J-word at him for abandoning folk for rock & roll. "Judas, the most hated name in human history! If you think you've been called a bad name, try to work your way out from under that. Yeah, and for what? For playing an electric guitar? As if that is in some kind of way equitable to betraying our Lord and delivering him up to be crucified. All those evil motherf---ers can rot in hell."
For Dylan, the plagiarism accusations are old hat, he says. "People have tried to stop me every inch of the way. They've always had bad stuff to say about me... Newsweek printed that some kid from New Jersey wrote 'Blowin' in the Wind' and it wasn't me at all. And when that didn't fly, people accused me of stealing the melody from a 16th-century Protestant hymn. And when that didn't work, they said they made a mistake and it was really an old Negro spiritual. So what's so different? It's gone on for so long I might not be able to live without it now. F--- 'em. I'll see them all in their graves."