In his first interview in three years, the veteran songwriter opens up about his music and life

By Steve Helling
Updated January 23, 2015 06:40 PM
Advertisement

Just call him Professor Dylan.

If legendary rocker Bob Dylan hadn’t become a musician, he’d have chosen a very different career.

“If I had to do it all over again, I’d be a schoolteacher,” he told AARP The Magazine.

And what would he have taught? “Probably Roman History or theology.”

At 73, Dylan – who is this year’s MusiCares Person of the Year – is busy promoting his latest album, Shadows in the Night, which will be released on Feb. 3.

Although every song on the album has previously been released by Frank Sinatra, Dylan says there’s no comparison.

“Comparing me with Frank Sinatra? You must be joking,” he says. “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.”

So what set Sinatra apart from other singers?

“He had this ability to get inside of the song in a conversational way,” Dylan tells the magazine. “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.”

As a bonus, Dylan gave 50,000 readers of the magazine a free copy of his album. “If it was up to me, I’d give the records for nothing and you give them to [everyone],” he explained.

The classic songs on the album may be dated, but Dylan says they’re every bit as relevant today as they were when they were written.

“These are songs of great virtue,” he says.

“People’s lives today are filled with vice and the trappings of it. Ambition, greed and selfishness,” he said. “We don’t see the people that vice destroys. We just see the glamour of it – from billboards to movies. We see the destruction of human life. These songs are anything but that.”