In a wide-ranging interview with AARP Magazine, Bob Dylan offered his thoughts on his new album of Frank Sinatra covers, happiness, and the state of industry in America.
In the interview, Dylan’s first in nearly three years, the legendary musician said that in spite of those who say happiness in this life does not exist, “self-sufficiency creates happiness,” and that billionaires should contribute to the American economy by creating jobs for American workers.
“The government’s not going to create jobs. It doesn’t have to,” Dylan told the magazine. “People have to create jobs, and these big billionaires are the ones who can do it.”
Still, Dylan conceded, “We don’t see that happening.”
“We see crime and inner cities exploding with people who have nothing to do, turning to drink and drugs,” he continued. “They could all have work created for them by all these hotshot billionaires. For sure that would create a lot of happiness.”
“Now, I’m not saying they have to – I’m not talking about communism,” Dylan was quick to clarify. “But what do they do with their money? Do they use it in virtuous ways?”
Dylan added that people with resources could help those struggling with work, but ultimately, it is up to American titans of industry to decide how they want to spend their money.
“There are a lot of things wrong in America, and especially in the inner cities, that they could solve,” Dylan said. “Those are dangerous grounds, and they don’t have to be. There are good people there, but they’ve been oppressed by lack of work. Those people can all be working at something. These multibillionaires can create industries right here in America. But no one can tell them what to do. God’s got to lead them.”
Dylan, who recently participated in a bizarre social experiment in which he performed a concert for one person, also used the interview to discuss his forthcoming 36th studio album, Shadows in the Night, a collection of Frank Sinatra covers performed with his five-piece touring band.
“People talk about Frank all the time,” Dylan said. “He has this ability to get inside of the song in a sort of a conversational way. Frank sang to you – not at you. I never wanted to be a singer that sings at somebody. I’ve always wanted to sing to somebody.”
“These songs are songs of great virtue,” Dylan added. “That’s what they are. People’s lives today are filled with vice and the trappings of it. Ambition, greed, and selfishness all have to do with vice. Sooner or later, you have to see through it or you don’t survive. We don’t see the people that vice destroys. We just see the glamour of it – everywhere we look, from billboard signs to movies, to newspapers to magazines. We see the destruction of human life. These songs are anything but that.”
When the interviewer asked Dylan how he thinks his work stands up to that of Sinatra’s, Dylan laughed him off.
“Comparing me with Frank Sinatra? You must be joking,” Dylan told the magazine. “To be mentioned in the same breath as him must be some sort of high compliment. As far as touching him goes, nobody touches him. Not me or anyone else.”
Read the rest of AARP‘s interview with Bob Dylan here.