YouTube, that visual repository of everything forgotten, contains a 1993 interview from 1960s counterculture hero Bob Dylan airing heretical views on gun control that deserves a second look given the current debate.
The man behind the microphone appears guilty of the same sin committed by so many of Dylan’s admirers: projection. They imagine their hero’s words as ones they would say, albeit in a less oracular, lyrical way. So, when he embraces Christianity or watches boxing or goes positively-fourth-street on members of the press, they provide explanations for why Bob Dylan was not himself that day, which is their way of saying Bob Dylan was not themselves that day.
The MTV interviewer, annoying Dylan—a notoriously difficult man to interview—asks about the sources of teen violence.
“Television causes all that violence,” the songwriter tells the television interviewer. “That’s my opinion. People see that on TV and want to do it. That’s just my opinion. TV, in my mind, forms people’s opinions.”
The interviewer, presupposing Dylan’s views, nudges the songwriter on whether he thinks America contains too many guns (it sounds like one of those questions with a right-or-wrong answer). “I don’t think there’s enough guns,” the future Nobel laureate says.
By this point, Dylan, apparently judging his interrogator guilty blowing an “Idiot Wind,” becomes playful but in a cantankerous way. When asked where teens get their guns, Dylan deadpans: “They get ’em in a toy store.”
And with that, the man whose words The Weathermen famously misinterpreted, again left his audience scrambling to deduce his meaning. Good artists tend to do that.