Benmont Tench of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Opens Up About Working With Bob Dylan -
Bob Dylan Shot of Love

Benmont Tench of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Opens Up About Working With Bob Dylan

by Paul Cashmere on October 21, 2021

in News

Benmont Tench, a co-founding member of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, first met Bob Dylan in 1981 when he was invited to play keyboards on Dylan’s ‘Shot of Love’ album.

Earlier today: Tom Jones covers Bob Dylan

Benmont would later tour the world with Petty and Dylan. That tour came to Australia in 1986. He has first-hand insight into Dylan, the person.

Benmont tells, “(Bob) has a sense of humour but he doesn’t clown around in my experience. But then again I never went out to drinks with him. He is smart. He is very funny. When you listen to his words, there is a lot of humour in those songs. They might be scathing but ‘Positively 4th Street’, it is scathing … “You’ve got a lot nerve to say you are my friend” … its really scathing but it ends with “I wish for just one moment you could be inside my shoes, and just for that one moment I could be you. I wish for just one time you could stand inside me shows, you’d know what a drag it is to see you”. That’s a really funny line. Its mean but its hysterical.”

To hear the humour in Dylan lyrics Benmont says you need to listen. “If you listen to his entire body of work up until the latest, it is serious and its got plenty of wit in it. Maybe not ‘ha ha’ but wit in the sense that its smart and it will make you smile”.

Dylan is one of a kind, a once in a generation artist says Benmont. “Look, the guy is Bob Dylan. I was listening to some stuff recently. I did an interview about him for the Bob Dylan archives, the Dylan Center, and he is unique in my experience during my lifetime. He absolutely stands above everybody else I think. The people who could touch him didn’t write the kind of song people had to have on their radio over and over and over again. Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, who are undeniable geniuses, but Joni had a few hits, and I don’t think Leonard had a hit. He was loved and he was successful. Maybe ‘Suzanne’. But Bob had the ability to write works with were depth and with a really compelling melody. ‘Idiot Wind’, that is a dark, dark, deep, deep song off ‘Blood On The Tracks’, but the music is really gripping”.

“Bob is not a hype,” Benmont says. “I met him on the ‘Shot of Love’ sessions. I did a song with Jimmy Iovine. Jimmy and Bob were going to try and work with each other if they could. They didn’t click and Jimmy left the session but they called me a couple of months later to come in to come and do the ‘Shot of Love’ record. I played on two thirds of it and I really got to work with him. Its like with Tom, you come to work and you are handed these songs that are a cut above any other artist. ‘Wildflowers’, nobody writes like that! And Bob’s whole body of work… ‘Shot of Love’ is a really good record that is overlooked. He has a song on that called ‘Every Grain of Sand’. To have Bob Dylan sit down at a piano and show you and then you have the privilege of playing on it. Playing music in my life has been a privilege”.

Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free: The Making of Wildflowers’ has a limited screening in cinemas worldwide this week.

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