Dylan is soon to release Together Through Life, his 33rd album.
Since a few bluegrass bands have been known to do the occasional Dylan cover, and I’m a Dylan fan regardless of genre label, I took the time to read it over. There’s not much bluegrass content in the interview. In fact, bluegrass gets mentioned twice. Once the interviewer asks if Robert Hunter, who Dylan has done a bit of co-writing with recently, previously played in a bluegrass band with Jerry Garcia. Dylan responds that it was either bluegrass or a jug band.
The second mention is to lump bluegrass in with other “side show performers” that Dylan was influenced by.
But one part of the interview that caught my attention was when Dylan was asked about the inclusion of banjo on a track.
BF: “Forgetful Heart” – how do you decide to put an Appalachian banjo on a minor key blues? Is it something you think of ahead of time or does it come up in the session?
BD: I think it probably came up at the studio. A banjo wouldn’t be out of character though. There is a minor key modality to “Forgetful Heart.” It’s like Little Maggie or Darling Cory, so there is no reason a banjo shouldn’t fit or sound right.
Dylan, it is clear, understands the banjo, and bluegrass music. He gets the major/minor modality of the high-lonesome sound. I knew I like Dylan!