Mike Campbell On Being In The Presence of Bob Dylan - Noise11.com
Mike Campbell

Mike Campbell

Mike Campbell On Being In The Presence of Bob Dylan

by Paul Cashmere on January 29, 2020

in News

Former Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and now Dirty Knobs frontman Mike Campbell has recalled his time with Bob Dylan for Noise11.com.

“I toured Australia with Bob Dylan,” Mike Campbell told Noise11. “When I was first called to perform with him, he had a presence. Johnny Cash (had it) too. Those two, they walk into a room and there is a presence of greatness. I never met John Lennon but I imagine he was like that too. The presence of greatness permeates the room. I am really grateful I go to be in their presence at all. It is one of the greatest joys of my life”.

Mike says the Dylan persona is very different to the real man. “He is Mr Contraire Dylan. I can tell you stories of how quirky and beautifully genius he is and how he interacts with people. He is such a beautiful person. He is an amazing artist, an amazing writer. He maybe the best songwriter of all-time. He is also a twitchy, goofy little kid with music. He gets into it on a high school level in a garage band. He is Bob Dylan, but he is one of us”.

He says even Dylan likes to distance himself from Dylan from time to time. “He is so famous. I don’t want to speak for Bob but I think that sometime to get perspective, it’s a lot for him to deal with getting all that attention and I think he maybe plays games. Who am I to say. He is one of those greats. I’ll say this about him. Deep down, one on one like we are talking, he is a beautiful soul. He is a sweet guy”.

Mike played on Dylan’s 1985 and 1986 albums ‘Empire Burlesque’ and ‘Knocked Out Loaded’. It wasn’t long after his song ‘Boys of Summer’ was a major hit for Don Henley. “First time I worked in the studio with Bob he came to me and said ‘you did that song Boys of Summer’. I said ‘yeah’. He said ‘You got the music on a drum machine’. I said ‘yeah’. He goes ‘what’s that like?’. I said ‘you have a machine, it keeps the beat, you build your record up from that’. So he said ‘bring it down tomorrow. I want to do that’. That is so pure Bob. So I bring my drum machine down. It has no place in a Bob Dylan record but he wants to do it. So I put the beat up in the headphones. We are playing along with it and it just goes off. The drum machine wanders but somehow at the end we ended with it. It was a total mess. We listen back to it, he looks at me and he goes ‘that’s not right’. And I tell him ‘you’re not playing with the machine’ and he says ‘you mean it won’t follow me?’ I said ‘no’ and he says “so what good is it”. That to me is Bob. Its genius”.

Mike Campbell will release his first album with The Dirty Knobs ‘Wreckless Abandon’ on 20 March. Here is the title track:

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