Friday, November 23, 2007

Hi, Bob

There's a passage in Crystal Zevon's wonderful oral history I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon describing the day that Bob Dylan dropped into the studio while Zevon and a quorum of R.E.M. were working on Sentimental Hygiene. Dylan had simply shown up one day with Jakob in tow, unannounced, uninvited, but who's not going to let Dylan in the door? The R.E.M. guys reacted more or less the way I would react. Zevon's manager at the time, Andy Slater, tells the story:

"I walk into the control booth, and Dylan is sitting there with a kid. I go into the tracking room, and I walk up to each of the guys in R.E.M. and say, 'Hey. how're you doing?' They say, 'Did you see Dylan out there? You freaking out?' I said, 'No, I'm not freaking out. Are you freaking out?' 'Yeah, I'm freaking out.' So I go to the next guy, 'So what's Dylan doing here?' 'I don't know, but he's sitting right there. I'm freaking out.'"

Dylan ended up playing harmonica on "The Factory." Zevon, clever boy that he was, did think to ask him if he had any new songs he wasn't using, but Dylan didn't. "Actually, he said as little as possible," Zevon later wrote, "but he was nice to me." I'd settle for that.

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