BOB DYLAN has delivered his verdicts on the greatest names in popular music over the past half century. Dylan, who turned 68 on Sunday, uses an interview with Rolling Stone magazine to list Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry and the Beatles as among those he most admires.
He reveals the existence of long-lost recordings he did with Cash, hints at a possible collaboration with Paul McCartney, and expresses relief that he never met Elvis, his teenage inspiration.
Dylan had several invitations to Graceland in the 1960s, but had no desire to meet a hero who was past his best and along the way to drug addiction.
"I wanted to see the powerful, mystical Elvis that had crash-landed like a burning star on to American soil," Dylan told the magazine. "The Elvis that was bursting with life. That's the Elvis that inspired us to all the possibilities of life. And that Elvis was gone, had left the building."
Dylan's interview with the US author and historian Douglas Brinkley comes a month after the release of his album Together Through Life, his 33rd release in a career spanning 46 years.
Dylan reveals an acute awareness of his status as a survivor of pop's early hall of fame. The only other contemporary he considers senior to himself is guitarist Chuck Berry, 82. "As long as Chuck Berry's around, everything's as it should be."
Dylan describes the late country singer Johnny Cash, with whom he collaborated occasionally, as a man who had his bad patches. Cash, who died in 2003, did some "notorious low-grade stuff" in his later years, he says. "I do miss him. But I started missing him about 10 years before he kicked the bucket."
He reveals that while on tour in the 1960s, he and Cash spent time in London hotels singing into a tape recorder. Another singer he would like to collaborate with is McCartney. "I'd like one day to sit down and work with Paul."
Originally a folk singer, Dylan was famously branded a "Judas" by his early fan base after swapping his acoustic guitar for electric and embracing modern rock'n'roll.
Yet 40 years on, he is less enthusiastic about innovations such as YouTube, iPods and video games. "It robs [youth] of their self-identity," he says. "It's a shame to see them so tuned out to real life."
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