What Bob Dylan Told Steve Jobs About Songwriting
Bob Dylan was Steve Jobs‘s idol. In his new authorized biography from Simon & Schuster, Jobs tells Walter Isaacson about his 2004 meeting with Dylan. This led to Jobs becoming Dylan’s unofficial archivist, and issuing Dylan’s massive digital catalog in 2007. Jobs, weirdly, also wound up having a three year romantic relationship with Dylan’s early lover, singer Joan Baez.
Jobs told Isaacson: “We sat on the patio outside his room and talked for two hours. I was really nervous, because he was one of my heroes. And I was also afraid that he wouldn’t be really smart anymore, that he’d be a caricature of himself, like happens to a lot of people. But I was delighted. He was as sharp as a tack. He was everything I’d hoped. He was really open and honest. He was just telling me about his life and about writing his songs. He said, “They just came through me, it wasn’t like I was having to compose them. That doesn’t happen anymore, I just can’t write them that way anymore.” Then he paused and said to me with his raspy voice and little smile, “But I still can sing them.”
I wish I was a fly on a wall where Jobs met Dylan; I could just see sparks flying. Two monumental figures of pure genius. Singer. Songwriter. Poet. Visionary. Genius. Bob Dylan, who inevitably has to go down in history as one of the most remarkable musical artists in world history. The troubadour has been an influential figure in popular music for more than five decades. Here is a man making relevant music at a time when we’re writing eulogies for artist his age and younger. Going back to Dylan’s six-minute single “Like a Rolling Stone,” which has been described as radically altering the parameters of popular music in 1965, here we are almost 50 years later and the guy is still at it. iMac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, iPad, iCon! Steve Jobs and his inventions changed the world we live in. His extraordinary genius will forever be synonymous with the advent of the digital age. Of course both craftsmen hit many obstacles and pitfalls along the way but their relentless vision didn’t falter as they never let the boos nor the cheers of their triumphs and failures get in the way of their creative endeavor. As with mahatma Gandhi or Einstein, Dylan and Jobs had contemporaries who could match them in pure intellectual firepower, skill, talent and stamina but lacked the imaginative genius to make the full creative leap at the core of their being.
D&J had the elusive qualities of genius, that intuition and imagination allowed them to think differently (or, as Mr. Jobs’s ads put it, to Think Different.)
If Steve Jobs were such a big Dylan fan, he’d have never questioned whether Dylan was still smart or as sharp as he had always been. To those of us who are well versed and well immersed in everything Dylan, we know that once you got it, you don’t lose it.
I met Bob and had the good fortune to celebrate his 64th birthday at a studio in west palm beach Florida..He offered to cut his own piece of cake in half for me to have a slice!.. I asked him about the Bitter end formerly owned by my second cousin Fred..He was sharp. He was there for three days rehearsing. I’ll never forget it. I practically lived there so I felt like he was in my kitchen!…Steve was amazing but I never met him. God bless the man.
Vettgrl; Bob always prefers to be mysterious and unpredictable. It’s like his concerts; sometimes he’ll come out scowling and mumble through the songs, and another time he’ll absolutely blow you away. That’s just Bob!
It delights me to hear that Steve had a couple hours with Bob, one of the joys that made life fun while he was working the long hours he must have worked to give humanity the stepping stones he gave us. And it delights me to hear that Bob was still sharp in whatever they discussed. I’m doubtful that the songs don’t come to Bob anymore. Hide and watch. He’ll amaze us again before his train pulls out. Paul McCartney said something similar, that he’d written his great songs back in the Beatles days and doesn’t expect to write more. But my motto is, “There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you?” As long as Steve was alive he was working on his ‘songs’. As long as Bob and Paul keep reaching for their instruments there’s another song in there.
If Dylan was as sharp as a tack, how come when he’s appeared on National TV show to perform, he would say something really unintelligible?
I’m just saying
Danielle: I love Dylan, too. But I don’t think you can qualify as a Steve Jobs quality fan; until you have an affair with Joan Baez!! :)
As I am as a huge Dylan fan as Steve Jobs, I can really feel what he felt before and after meeting Bob , and I am not surprised to read that when S.Jobs met Bob “he was sharp, he was everything S Jobs had hoped ,open and honest…”
I do think Bob couldn’t be as a brilliant Genius as he is if he wasn’t sharp, open,honest simple,sweet and gentle,just a true and sincere person.