How does it feel, Bob Dylan asked in his 1965 single Like a Rolling Stone, to be on your own with no direction home?
Now, 57 years later, he has finally given us the answer – it makes you feel like curling up and binge-watching Coronation Street.
In a rare interview, Dylan said the long-running ITV soap is what he likes to switch on when he wants to feel “at home”. He finds it much superior to “disgusting” modern streaming shows, preferring to spend his time watching The Twilight Zone and GK Chesterton adaptations.
“I recently binged Coronation Street, Father Brown, and some early Twilight Zones,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “I know they’re old-fashioned, but they make me feel at home. I’m not a fan of packaged programmes, or news shows. I never watch anything foul-smelling or evil. Nothing disgusting, nothing dog ass.”
It is unclear why Coronation Street, which began broadcasting in 1960 — two years before Dylan, 81, released his eponymous debut album — reminds him of home.
But Manchester’s Free Trade Hall was the site of one of music’s most controversial moments in 1966, when a heckler branded Dylan “Judas” for going electric during a set – and changing the course of rock history. He was back in the city 56 years later last month, playing the Apollo on his Rough and Rowdy Ways tour.
But to fans that night, he was betraying his folk roots. Dylan heard the heckling and shouted back: “I don’t believe you. You’re a liar”, before telling his band to play even louder.
Coronation Street has made several references to the moment, with characters discussing Ken Barlow attending the concert and heckling Dylan.
In the wide-ranging interview, the 81-year-old also revealed his thoughts on streaming services, saying it had made music “too smooth and painless”.
“Everything’s too easy,” he said. “Just one stroke of the ring finger, middle finger, one little click, that’s all it takes. We’ve dropped the coin right into the slot… You need a solar X-ray detector just to find somebody’s heart, see if they still have one.”
While he listens to music on CDs, satellite radio and streaming, he added, he still loves the sound of old vinyl – “especially on a tube record player from back in the day”.
He added: “I bought three in an antique store in Oregon about 30 years ago. The tone quality is so powerful and miraculous, has so much depth. It always takes me back to the days when life was different and unpredictable.”
Dylan also said he discovered new music “mostly by accident” and praised the work of a host of artists including Jack White, Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Wu-Tang Clan and Eminem.
He gave a more nuanced view on social media, saying it brings happiness to a lot of people. Some people even discover love there. I think its a wonderful thing. But they can divide and separate us, as well. Turn people against each other,” he added.
Dylan has sold more than 125m records and earned countless awards including 10 Grammys, an Oscar, and a National Book Award for his 2004 book Chronicles, Volume One. In 2016, he was awarded the Nobel prize for literature.
He’s continued to produce work, last month releasing a new book called The Philosophy of Modern Song, a collection of essays in which he meditates on 66 songs he holds dear. During lockdown, he announced his first album of original songs in eight years, Rough and Rowdy Ways.
Dylan also recounted how he spent lockdown, calling it a “very surrealistic time” and likening it to “being visited by another planet or by some mythical monster”.
He added: “But it was beneficial, too. It eliminated a lot of hassle and personal needs; it was good having no clock. I changed the door panels on an old ’56 Chevy, made some landscape paintings, wrote a song called You Don’t Say. I listened to Peggy Lee records. I reread Rime of the Ancient Mariner a few times over. What a story that is!
“I listened to The Mothers of Invention record Freak Out!, which I hadn’t heard in a long, long time. Frank Zappa was light years ahead of his time.
“If there’d been any opium laying around, I probably would have been down for a while.”