tv Conversations with American Historians Douglas Brinkley - Part 3 CSPAN March 13, 2022 7:01am-8:01am EDT
listen to c-span radio with our free mobile app c-span now get complete access to what's happening in washington wherever you are with live streams of floor proceedings and hearings from the us congress white house events, the courts campaigns and more plus analysis of the world of politics with our informative podcasts. c-span now is available at the apple store and google play download it for free today. c-span now your front row seat to washington anytime anywhere. since c-span was founded in 1979 historian and author douglas. brinkley has participated in many of the network's programs forums call-ins and special projects as well as on book tv and american history tv. c-span sat down with him for nearly six hours to get his insights on american history popular culture good books and more.
up next part three of that conversation which focuses on theodore roosevelt kurt vonnegut and mr. brinkley's friendship with bob dylan. talk about before rice you were married once divorced and now married to anne for how many years 19. how did you meet her? well, we met when i wrote a book on rosa parks and her family the goldman's of new orleans had a daughter leia goldman who was a really a brilliant. i never got to meet her but a brilliant woman north north western and doing her doctorate in indiana university, indiana, and she got killed in a fluke. auto accident in new orleans when the whole city blacked out the lights went all went off and somebody ran into her and killed her.
and so my leia goldman the her parents created a memorial lecture for her at a private school there country day in metairie, louisiana. and what they do is get guest speakers i think to a year they pay for and i just did rosa parks biography so they had me come give a lecture and rosa parks. and anne was my chaperone took me around the school and it just me as soon you know, they had a dinner in my honor because they do for the speaker and all that and we started dating and she was a graduate of tulane and i was just getting ready to start teaching at tulane moving from eisenhower center to tulane and we bought ended up living together right on jefferson avenue across from the newman school. um where people like i think michael lewis and walter
isaacson and a lot of people nick lehman. oh nick went nicholas lemmon went to country day, but any rate we were living there and i can walk to my office at tulane right at all. i'd run an audubon park around the zoo street car coming down there and we were very happy there. we're gonna stay there and then katrina hit and i wrote about it, but i just decided i was ready for a new adventure and my wife was born and raised in new orleans and she was ready for a new adventure and we went after katrina. we went and spend a half a year out at simi valley, california. to i edited reagan's diaries and they wouldn't let you know i had to work at the library. i couldn't xerox them or you know, it's a stipulation. so one of our three children was born out there at in thousand
oaks, california right next to simi valley and we had a blast out there. it was so nice working at the reagan library. i was in simi valley the weather and we just decided you know, let's make life an adventure. we don't need to stay in new orleans. we've each invested a lot of our life there. what did ann do in new orleans? she worked for a company called mcdermott for a while and a long while and then she and she was a charge of booking trips and things and then she was had her own clothing store women's clothing store called spring. on magazine, so when i met her she was a small business owner of a very popular women's store and not too far from tulane have three children their names. are oldest is benton grace frankly named after all the
painter thomas hart benton, missouri and who i just had a door he was from midwest kind of populist painter, but did these incredible portraits of the united states that i loved as a kid? and i still enjoying any museum going to look for the bentons my most expensive thing i've ever bought in. my life is an old man painted by thomas hart benton, which i keep and i'm going to give us an heirloom to my daughter benton. how did he relate to the senator ben? they were distantly related but many generations apart, but he was very proud of he was a very problem missourian the painter because and he had lineage theater roosevelt wrote a book about the original thomas hartman. it's not one of tr's better books, but nevertheless for theodore roosevelt 20 write a biographies. so a very interesting figure and
ted or john f. kennedy was very interested in thomas that thomas start ben but mine was the painter who had midwest landscapes, but also was the teacher of jackson pollock and other modern modernist painters. how old is ben? and what is she doing benton is 17 and is about her. i i'm proud that i did all the driving training with during just got her a car. it's got a little subaru and she is a junior in high school, and she's right now looking for colleges and that's been interesting for me being a parent instead of the professor her interests are she's very drawn to childhood psychology and education to deep very good with young people. and so she wants to somehow work with big heart second child.
the second child is johnny. cleveland brinkley and johnny's godfather's max cleland, and they stay in touch a lot of times. how did that happen? um, john kerry was running for president. i got to know max and max due to vietnam war lost both legs and an arm and he just wouldn't get an automatic wheelchair. he would just crank the one and i'd watch him go over curves. i watched him in the snow the one and i i just thought why god he all of that happen to him and he keeps on fighting and i wanted we mentioning the military. i want to johnny and talk no veteran like that. my father was a korean war veteran and would tell a stories about he was in alaska's ski trooper and the korean war guarding alaska from russian intervention, and now my dad is
in his 90s. and where's his korean vets hat, you know when? to the chick-fil-a out in california and things and and but anyway johnny is a he's now a sophomore in high school and he is just straight a's never known anything but an a and his interest now is in sports management. he's six gonna be six three and he's only a junior and he might end up being six four. he loves basketball and take him after his mother. he took after my grandfather and my wife has a tall jean in her family too. he somehow found that here's a trivia question three. do do you know what famous singer? grew up in the same town as max cleland. oh boy, um. famous singer grew up in the
same town. i'll make oh that's a hard guess. the little richard no. no, i i learned it one night because i was at the birchmere watching brenda lee and max cleveland was there at another table and he yells over he says, you know that brenda lee boulevard is in the same town with max leland street. oh my god, that did not put that together. that's interesting. well max is an expert on bluegrass country music and particularly western movies the gene autry tom mix. he's encyclopedic i once visited him and los angeles and a meeting. i just was curious to see it. it's like a cowboy club of all these western gray louis lamour. it was like a western conference and it was fascinating. i went just happened to be in la and took the effort to go see him at this and it was it was
neat. worry about max a lot. you know, it's but he ran the battlefield commissions too. so he knows about all the battlefields and where american soldiers are buried around the world or is he living and he's in an apartment in atlanta and he goes to a diner where they all you know, he's like the town crier coming in they all love them there, but my son what's going to sports management and he as a business sports and his dream would be to be a general manager of like an nba team. what about the third child third is cassidy? and cassidy ann and her name spelled like hopalong cassidy who was at ohio state a great football player and i just like the name cassidy the hop along cassie was a football player in ohio state.
yeah. yeah, and and any rate, she's a fresh. and she wants to go to columbia university. it's just honor that's her dream, and i've keep telling her how tough it is. you can get in columbia. you can't get a b+ and one class and so far. she's doing all the work to be able to get into columbia and you know the thing we learn at rice but as being in so long in this world with the never let a young person fall in love with one school because they're applying to you know, you got to apply to team never know things are random in life. i mean we have students get rejected rice that had a form two average in high school and ace the scores and like their parents come to me and say my kid was perfect. how can you guys not take them? you know, are you tough greater? um, i'm medium i would i'm i'm very sympathetic and i'm probably easier than i should be
sympathetic to excuses for late things. but the problem is some student tells you they were sick. and get your paper in time. it's always weird. they're all sick on the same day the night before the papers do but you can't signal. you know me. just have to accept that. you can't start challenging somebody's telling you they were feeling you appear on the don. i'm a show all the time. i did and then i think i remember somebody named wyatt. i'm yeah my classes. yeah, why was why it's interesting focus. well, sports management's kind of a hot field and rice university's number one in the country in it and it attracts a lot of young men and women, but why it wanted to become professionalized and rodeo. he does rodeo and i had to go when he applied there. i you know, we don't consider it a sport.
rodeo even though we're in texas at rice. and and i question why not rodeo is a sport. and i took it up to through the channels there and they finally they actually agreed he should be a sports so they're giving him meaning but why a matter for him is he goes to rodeo meats and might miss a week of school. for the rodeo and the teachers have to make up for that as if you were football player that had to go to the west coast or something. so we have to we treated rodeo as a sport. how much is why excuse me? why i must like his father. oh very much. so in the sense of you know humor and you know, he's just they both are loved the the frontier the west, you know, i've been to their ranch before
don died out in texas. he had lung issues. in new mexico, his breathing was hard form where he's he was really like below sea level at his ranch there in brenham, texas and and a beautiful bluebonnets and gorgeous horses and hit a nice setup and wyatt really was winning blue ribbons. i mean he was a champion his hero is even mind me. saying i don't talk usually about students, but he loves muhammad ali. in his bible was david remnick's book on ali and he really wanted to be like the greatest at rodeo. and whether one ever meets that it's attains it it's the drive to want to be be that good and why it has that sure tell him the next ken burns series is on muhammad ali so it's i didn't know that i watched hemingway with great. i thought it was all of ken stuff is good, but i'm really
enjoyed the hemingway it had enough mixer of footage with the writing and the complications, but i was worried it was going to be more of a kind of takedown of hemingways machoism or something, but i thought they'll dealt with him as a person quite well in that and so muhammad ali is a gold standard because the footage you have of him and we'll be just spectacular back to your children ages 17. yeah, 15 13. yes. okay. what has been your approach because i know i've picked up over the years and we've talked to interview situations that they've traveled an enormous amount with you enormous. how many kind of places have you taken them and why they become my magic bus trips we go everywhere i take them to historic sites and in particular national parks on hope it rubs off they complain about it some
depending on the circumstances, but i found ways to mix it up one is that we're trying to visit every baseball stadium in america. so if you go to see the cubs in chicago, we then also go to the you know, the chicago arts institute or or visit jane adams whole house or you know, you know, we'll do things that are history related to the trip and then the baseball games. of a payoff and we all like it but my wife's become a big baseball. fanatic and but mainly we just go and see places and go things and i'm excited this summer. i'm taking them where i'm spending the whole six weeks. we're going to be in medora north dakota where they're building a theodore roosevelt presidential library the walton foundation of walmarts. put a lot of the seed money into this and i wrote the book the wilderness warrior about
theodore roosevelt conservation and the museums going to be based a largely a good part of it on that on my book in that little museum there. it's not as you know, it's not developed yet is the shirt he was wearing in milwaukee with the the bullet hole in it. and it's interesting because as you know, theodore roosevelt's stuff is everywhere. what is right behind him getting shot in milwaukee um, he was running third party bull moose candidate and you know, he was approaching the stage in a crazy anarchist pulled out a pistol and shot him be while he was walking the the grounds to get to the podium and is bleeding terribly he looked and saw that the bullet had gone through with your saying the his glasses.
he was blind in one eye and couldn't see that. well the other and he also was a bird watcher and so these glasses he put on his seat things and he had a thick speech paper a little thicker than it is today there too. so the bullet went through those and it may have saved his life because it hit the case the glasses, you know, and it gate stops a little bit of the velocity of the bullet, but he was bleeding. continue to the stage and you know federal take more than a bullet to kill a bull moose and continue to orate like with bleeding now at that moment. he's either crazy. or he but he became a folklore figure it didn't matter whether he won or lost the story of tr takes a bullet and keeps speaking. he got then finally brought to chicago for medical attention lost weeks on the campaign which was unfortunate, but i just
mentioned jane addams whole house. she was originate original social worker won a nobel prize for social work. she came and sat by his bedside and try to get him healed and in the end he came in second after woodrow wilson in 1912 with william howard taft his son nemesis coming in third, but after that he was much. speaker and he probably shouldn't have gone as as now looking what to do. he went to brazil famously and took the journey down the river of no, return and contracted a malarial like situation. go back to madura north dakota. why a museum there and how big a deal is it going to be? when we do my magic bus trips, we'd always stay. i'm at dora. there was a a woman who recently died silas schaefer who loved the magic bus and she would give us free rooms at the badlands motel and we would go to the
ranches that tr had and go around the little, missouri river. brian that national park all of people listening to this should go visit theodore roosevelt national park because it's not crowded like the badlands with with industrial tourism. you can go up there medora's a mom-and-pop town where they don't have franchises except the you know gasoline stations. there's not subways or mcdonald's. it's you know mom and pop and they built this beautiful amphitheater outside with the badlands back drop where they do musical shows in the summer and you're bound to see boundless buffalo and antelope prairie dog villages. it's really quite a beautiful pocket and the idea is building and they will come right now. the walton foundation built in arkansas crystal bridges, which
is an art museum in bentonville, arkansas, by the way, bentonville named after but senator that bentonville is probably named after yes. yeah would have been he and that little town there's where walmart started at bentonville. let's the headquarters and they built in in this charming little community, but the museum is really worth seeing there. it's beautifully on and sold out. i mean people pouring into bentonville arkansas to see the museum. so i think the thought is to do one for theodore roosevelt in north dakota because he's to say i never would have been president without my days there and they're building it in a really environmentally, you know, echo way of the newest ways to build and they're paying a lot of money for the architect to make the museum blend in with the badlands scenery. and so, you know, we have a
presidential libraries for so many figures we've never had one for theodore roosevelt and now it's happening the money's there. i mean in congress right when trump left that december before he left the white house the congress appropriated some money to that too, but the walton foundation put an original like 150 million to get the thing going and the governor in the senators are of the state are all into it. and so happening wasn't going to be finished. i this year is more of their and i think it'll open my guess is in 2023. last question to you about rice. it's really not about rice, but is rice here last stop and education or do you have another dream to go some one more? stop rice is such an amazing institution it is we are ranked every year in us news and world report. we're you know, usually around 14 in the whole united states.
we are a top 20 university. i could not tell you all of my colleagues are my friends the administrators. i have such a beautiful situation there that anytime i think about ever leaving. it's like why with that said you never know, you know, we might want to have a you know, i often think it'd be fun to be in washington dc. and run as i'm getting more senior running one of these college programs, you know, all universities have a program and a building a lot of them here might be fun for me to do the washington, you know spend my last years live dividing my time between austin and washington dc, but right now i'm staying at rice help me with i wrote american moonshot there because john f kennedy gave that great speech on september 12 1962, you
know, i choose to go to the moon not because it's easy, but because it's hard and it was a speech about public service but also about science and discovery and i think it's kennedy's primo speech it's really a remarkably delivered and written speech. you spend a lot of time thinking talking writing about culture. what is it? i love them what i consider american culture or an even americana culture, but that began like the early, you know writers in america, like people like ralph waldo emerson used to ask. what does it mean to be an american? and how do we have a distinctive american culture what differentiates the american from the europeans and i think it's come through in a lot of our art forms. i think of walt whitman's leaves of grass and the idea of that everybody's a poet that we all
carry our own song with you and you know whitman to me epitomizes new democratic spirited american culture or thomas hart betting the painter who we talked about does too and so it's really just about arts celebrating arts books music. realizing that that's some of our great ambassadors of the world, you know in the 1950s. they would send eisenhower. send people like dizzy gillespie or duke ellington or benny goodman and on jazz tours around the world people. love american jazz you would have we would export things like, you know, i i one of my recent book when john glenn had his capsule friendship seven, you know, we'd send her capsule around the world and talk about our space age culture here like the space needle in in seattle or you know, the astro dome when it was built in texas, but my
days are still brian with poetry litter art in music and if i don't have those plus the natural world, i feel empty. so even here with covid going on. i got it quickly had to go see the david hockney. and go landscape painting show at the houston museum of fine arts. you know, i mean, it was like i needed the feed of seeing hockney's landscapes up close, which i never seen before and so it's like reading in the new york times the arts and leisure reading week and review in the wall street, you know the weekend section of the wall street journal. just trying to keep track of what artists are doing in our country and it gives it helps spark the spirit of our nation which cultural figure have you spent the most time around? well, i got to know some writers that i knew of my youth pretty. well i got to know the novelist
kurt bonnegut well in how i i used to i had kurt was very interesting world war two and i hadn't come to new orleans to speak and i happened to have read his his novels and we got to talk to him about him and his chill was a photographer and she actually took a lot of photos of the magic bus and we would are much students would meet with vonnegan in new york. jill took a lot of photos of kurt and i in new york city together out in cape cod. he was from indianapolis and there's a little museum there last year. i went with solomon rushdie and i did a program together on honoring the writings of kurt vonnegut when i admired about and i written about carbonica. i did a major rolling stone profile of them, but i his imagination is phenomenal and he was a science fiction writer and then he would write these books
after books imagining the world. a lot of them are dystopian novels, but i always makes me laugh kurt vonnegut. there's not one of his books that i don't get an out and out chuckle from so i think he was one of our really important writers that's going to last for a long time. how did that happen to somebody? from indianapolis. he got drafted in world war two and he was in dresden and got cambridge captured as a pow by the nazis. and when the british did the fire bombing of dresden and flattened the city vonnegut who they kept in a meat storage locker as an american pow during the bombing his job was to come out with other american gis and put dead charred bodies into wheelbarrows and bury them in mass graves with the german officers pointing guns at them. so he had to put thousands and thousands of corpse that still had the smell, you know, they've been there a couple days
unforgettable smell and put them in the mass graves and so i got to know not only kirk but some of his buddies from world war two that were part of dresden and i mean you want to see what turns somebody into a pacifist. i mean you you deal with what he had to deal with there and meaning just that much death and he would talk about it and cry, you know, and i think at that point he felt that life's absurd that everything is absurd and was very worried about what humans are doing to other human beings the holocaust you know cambodia and the 70s. i mean he's so he became kind of a human rights watchdog, but his books are just pure satire and there are a lot of fun to read and what they talk about. well, you know breakfast some they on all different topics breakfast of champions. he would kind of looking at how like something like my how the
midwest throws arts festivals which was very funny. what is considered art in the midwest, but he deals with these characters from every day american life, but he created character kilgore trout that cross circulates through a lot of his novels wrote a book about galapenosis. time machines player piano he had a suspicion of technology, which i always throws healthy all this huxley wrote a book doors of perception and and huxley used to say people were not blessing themselves instead of the cross with the t for the model t vonnegut picks up on that and basically things we become addicted to our new technologies and are we sure this isn't going to be doomsday for earth and he had such a great science fake background. he was a a just a genius curphonica. thank you. he brought real science into his
satires. and so i look at things who's a durable like i think a hundred years from now people will be reading kurt vonnegut 500 years from now, so it's an honor to get to know him. did you read him before you met him? i did i read slaughterhouse when i was a kid. it's sort of mandatory in a lot of high schools. like capture in the rye or you know used to be the good earth of pearl buck or something. yeah a steinbeck cannery row, you couldn't you know, but he wrote so many i one thing i i once asked kurt i said are you doing your what's your next book? like you would ask me and he looked at me at this sad face and said do i have to do another haven't i've done enough. do you really think everybody's read all of what i've ever done but they always want to know what my next one is and you know made me feel a little foolish for a minute, but i think about i'm hesitate someone i ask
people. what are you writing now? because you know if i hadn't read some of their other books, but he he was very worried about climate change. you know, he also though, you couldn't put them in a right left box. he got involved with the issue of how one dies. with that, you know, are you if you're ready to go. is there a way to have you know, do you have to stay with tubes in a hospital and not have memory to stay alive or is there a way to die with more dignity on your clock? not somebody else's so he he tapped a lot of topics that are kind of taboo and would make you rethink them and was just a sweet person. what is your reaction when you've run into somebody that never reads? they dry. it's hard for me. can you talk to them? oh, yeah, i mean i do and you know, i as you know, i hang out
all my life and i can go to like waffle house and work on my books and there's something nice about people not caring some but to me getting into a conversation with somebody about books is about as exciting as it gets and there's certain writers that just, you know mean a lot to me. i probably know more about them than i should i had the strange. but i started with jack london when i was young, but i started reading like called the wild white fang, but then i would read everything jack london did. and i then did that with writer like willa cather and i did it with kurt vonn. and i wouldn't just read one or two. i wanted to see their whole body of work and i loved american writers, but i also like a lot of russian writers. i love dostoyevsky and tolstoy growing up when i was young, but i'm kind of i pulled for the american artist for the american writers that i think we you know
henry david thoreau's my favorite and herman millville, tony morrison my angelou, you know, so people like deeply admire you get the time i read every day all that's all i do in an informs my history books, so i'm reading writing. silent spring revolution on rachel carson, so i'm trying to figure out what was it like in the 1950s when we had the trinity explosion in new mexico than hiroshima nagasaki you have atomic fallout. we're testing weapons in nevada. eventually we find out people get sick. we're spraying ddt and mccarthyisms going on and then there's some people that are saying this is the greatest prosperity ever in the 50s, and then there are people saying we are destroying the planet at a rapid rate. usually it's the novelist to come up with that the destruction narrative ones, you
know, the i read a book for example, that's not that well known. that's really good called earth the bides by george r stewart in heat deals with what happens when a strange virus takes sober and kills everybody except a few people and he was in the novel is a university of california berkeley forester science guy and he survives but he can't figure out why he survived and why this person survived and yet he's so he's science. so he drives around america trying to figure out why this particular virus saved few. what characteristics did we have the same? well, i mean look at covid now, you know, i read earth abides it if you read it 20 years ago. it seems a little bizarro and then you read it in the covid climate and it's like, you know, it's all exaggerated. it gets a lot wrong, but he's making you think about pandemics
i interviewed bill clinton not long ago and clinton told me that all he did is president was read these fiction books by tom clancy or you know, some of these other kinds of you know, michael crichton in these sorts of writers who are thinking out of the box so much that sometimes they're not bureaucrats. so they're thinking about you know, what could happen clancy predicted a lot of different things. so having some novels and fiction from interesting writers in your life. i find it very important the author of lady chatter. a chatterley's lover you were in an oldsmobile, i think and you drove out to dh lawrence. yeah. country. when was that? why was that a dh lawrence is was part of mabel dodges community out in santa fe, but taos and i always was amazed
that this great british writer would end up in new mexico and he fell in love with the landscape up there and if you climb a mountain there he wanted his ashes not scattered, but they're it's like a little adobe hut that is ashes are in the hut so you go and sit in it and you're surrounded by dhl lawrence and the site looks out over their horizon of new mexico. he chose this stuff point. that's just stunning, you know, and i like dh lawrence a lot. i mean, he's not one of my favorite writers, but he wrote some essays about american literature. that are really really interesting about other writers and lady chattersley's lover and others were broke a lot of their taboos of the day, you know, they were you were smashing in some ways the polite victorian novels with something that had a more, you know modern sensibility.
why and are people celebrated who break down? previous mores always why that's a great question. people always looking for the new new thing look at it in the world of just say technology now everybody every minute a new app a new this and knew that an industry henry ford when i wrote about him said that the business world is filled of people who didn't recognize the time of change and kept doing the same old thing if you're not changing you can get stuck a little bit and i tend to go back to the older novels particularly as i go. more of a narrative historian. i mean so the writer i really love and defend now where nobody's defending is the great thomas wolf of north carolina because he wrote this beautiful romantic raptuous pros. that's really out of date right now, but i defend wolf because he just had so much raw talent
and wrote about the landscape of america so well, but you're right just go to a wing of a modern art museum in america and you'll see everybody's trying to do something that somebody didn't do like break create a new president for yourself. otherwise, you're imitating. and but things become retro things come back. i've amazed how many college students are starting to get record albums again vinyl. yeah. they're getting vinyl. i can't i mean i thought it was a few and a trend, but it's now become on college campuses really in where you do a record vinyl party and they play the bowl right when you thought vinyl is gone forever it finds audience. so um, but yeah, i do think breaking down in barriers has become a big part of the 20th century. like let me inject my own observation and something and see what you think. i've been around long enough i can. remember this the movies when i
was first going to movies have progressed through the years and this is what i see. men now routinely in a movies are seen standing at a urinal. it's even gone so far women sitting on a commode. the language has gone from no language to the f word every three and a half seconds. it's almost like it's built-in. why is that happening? and what benefit are we getting out of that? i would not consider that great art. that's that kind of thing unless it's done in some way on a particular film. it's just prop grim profiteering on our base. why do you like that? i don't but i think i guess people you know, that's you know, the you learn that that using the f word is very tricky very few people have ever been able to use it effectively so i ban it from my language.
i don't use it period i don't let my kids use it and i don't like it in a movies can somebody use it in a way that's effective in a scene. yes, but i agree with you this the i've given up on pop cultures the low how low the road has gotten on just edgy for edgy sake gratuitous violence of a good, you know, grotesque way what i liked edges when satire can make a sea our cells in a different way and that's not what the kind of movies you're talking about or is doing i wrote down or you said one time the biggest event in your life. was hearing like a rolling stone and getting in the car and driving a 1965 tuned by bob dylan why? oh, it's a if you cut me open
like a tree. i have a lot of bob dylan rings in me. i discovered him. i was young like a lot of people and i hate just spoke to me. what did he say to you like rolling stone was about moving for me if other people see it about a relationship you take what you want, but you know, it meant to me taking off and going and doing things like a song tangled up in blue getting out there. it was part of a tradition, but just dylan's lyrics were to me just so phenomenal but like well, i once a while maybe maybe a lot of people do this i think about am i funeral what song would i pick and eat for me? it would be like a rolling stone or mr. tambourine man the rolling stone magazine. where it get its title? well that comes out of this, you know, the original rolling stone muddy waters made, you know a song about it and then in 1967
rolling stone got created in the rolling stone rock band was big dylan it just had a number one hit with like a rolling stone and john winter of the founder of rolling stone appropriated it for the magazine that was supposed to be covering music exclusively, but quickly turn into a vehicle for long form. you know non-fiction and fiction. how many times have you interviewed or been around bob dylan? i've seen him. so my you know, i saw him once a long time ago and had a little bit of a conversation and then i got to do a rolling stone cover story on him and i went to amsterdam and interviewed him for a couple of nights there and then also paris on trip and we went on a little bit like you're going on he said to me i had like i knew better that he was
suspicious of technology. so i just brought a radio shack tape recorder with the old cassettes and and we talked in for our i had a one hour interview set up with him and i didn't even get out of duluth, minnesota where he grew up in hipping in duluth, and then there was the knock on the door to pull the talent like interview over and bob so it just a minute to them and he said he said you're a gambling man you did your whole hour you think them in new york want to hear about duluth? you spent your whole time on duluth and you ate up your whole hour and he's and then he said you going for a long term relationship with me because i like that you didn't go for the kill. a lot of people just come right in with the and you let going for a long form way and he says i like talking so then blew the person off and we just continue talking how long oh hours and hours went back to see him at the heineken. arena went back invited me back
the next night hours and hours. we got along and in when i he walked me out to a taxi to the street to say good night one night. and i said bob, this is really nice. i know you don't do this. he said oh, well you you are historian and you have talked about history and you know, and he said you passed my test and i said, what's the test and he said you never said i heard and then i got in a cab and i was thinking what is he talking about and i realized that i didn't say now. i heard that you're doing this. i simply said ask questions without i heard i just do that naturally so well, but columbia record, he liked the profile columbia records like it and subsequently we stayed in touch and talk and i've meet him at places to chat and someday hope to write on them. at least i'm collecting tapes and things but we he opened a
bob dylan center sold all this archive to tulsa. that's supposed to open in the spring of 2020 university of no, it's part of a man there who's one of the giving a billionaire named george kaiser and they build a woody guthrie museum in tulsa next to it's going to be the bob dylan center and who was woody guthrie and woody guthrie the famous folk singer who wrote this land is your land? kind of wandering, you know troubadour of the insult sang dust bowl ballads about the horrors of when the dust bowl hit, oklahoma, texas, new mexico and elsewhere and there's a lot of you know, dylan one of his first original compositions was called song for woody. so he was a kind of an error, you know, and he actually left him minnesota bob dylan when he was young and went to the hospital to sit and play to what he got three.
woody's own songs what about bob dylan is so special? um he does things his way. it's the triumph of the individual. over the forces of society he sings with the voice how he wants to he writes what he wants to he's unsued most of the time by what's supposed to be in or what's supposed to be out liberals think he's a liberal. yeah, he pops not really political. i mean he has a conservative side to him, you know, his father was quite conservative. his father had to work in electronic shops and in the minds up there in the wasabi range and what i got to see about bob dylan, is that he has a lot of kids and they're all great. they all have jobs. yeah, and they're all like, you know went to nyu or went to mcallister in minnesota and you know just a normal wonderful
family and i realized that that's part of an it. talk about the f word he doesn't like when people in the band use it you can get kicked out his son jake if you if you swear yeah, jacobs was a band called the wallflowers and he's kept the music, but he does he did that documentary. he did on laurel canyon laurel canyon and your hard pressed to see bob dylan in him. yeah and matter fact. he this is self attention here, but he used our style. he didn't in he didn't inject himself at all into the interview. just ask the question and he's a very very nice. you know, that's what i'm saying. these are nice people his kids and and so he lives out in malibu and he's opening both the center in tulsa and an art center in nashville where he's going to have his he is his own whiskey brand called heaven's gate and it's on our bob and it's gonna be the distillery in
nashville connected to a brand new art center that they're going to be doing. next few years. how much money is he made? no, no, but you can make as much as he wants in the sense within limits, but he does all sorts of side projects. he builds gates metal gates that he welds he has a welding studio and takes scrap metal and welds these kind of gates particularly using farm implements old style things. he finds that. you know along the road at you know, garages and thrift shops and all like metal parts and any welds together. they're interesting. do you like his police music or the latest album he did with the john kennedy assassination. well, i like his clay, you know classic earlier stuff. but yeah, i like the i like rough and rowdy ways was the most recent and i think there's a song in that the key west that i really hit me hard is about a figure getting growing up in age
and driving down to key west and contemplating their life and i see a lot of people along the gulf coast of florida, texas and all that are they're worn their lives are over. they're retired. they have diabetes. they have health problems and they're thinking about their whole lives and he does that well in key west but he's kind of proud of himself and he has a line in there brian that i love on that song where dylan says, you know like up my feet are firmly planted on the ground with my right my right arm up, but my thumbs down like my days are whining and he's gonna be 80 and he's thinking you know, so i i did it. i know who i am. my feet are planted my right arms up and victory what a career i have but my thumb's down my days are numbered and he says things like that that make you think and very few artists just draw can write those sorts of lyrics and in that particular song. he deals with william mckinley's
assassination using the language of of how mckinley was killed in the song to begin it and to deal with the old radio wires from navy ships where radio stations used to come out of places like lux and borg in and budapest and she does a lot of things he say a great musicologist and a incredible historian of america talking about bob dylan about american history. he knows a lot the best thing i ever heard about bob dylan was his xm serious radio show radio theme time and he was called. i don't know you can find it. i don't know that you can buy it. i know there they were made in cds you can acquire and but they're you know, i think it'll end up resurfacing on one of these. you know, i always waiting to see if they'll be a bob dylan channel, you know, there's jimmy buffett has one and bruce springsteen and elvis and and perhaps it will because he's written so many songs that other
people have done and but the thing i like about him now is he just doesn't quit. he's no matter his age. he's trying to be creative and and not dialing it. i mean he's works but he's always working. what do you see up close that we can't hear or see when it on television of bob dylan his eyes. he's amazing amazing blue eyes, and he has a story when you know, frank sinatra retired. frank and bob became good friends, and he wanted to do his last song and his farewell frank sinatra. did a bob dylan song called. russ was restless farewell. so it'd be like you at c-span all these years, but then you have to not do you know thing and it's a farewell everybody but it's restless you kind of still want to be there. but you know, you've got to do this move, you know, and and he just captures it dylan and
sinatra noticed it and frank said to bob, you know, bob. ice they both had the saying he goes. this is that we're going to go to heaven when you have eyes like ours where that's that's the blue of the skies we're going up there and that line meant a lot to bob dylan that frank who he worships up when he was younger kind of recognized him how many of his songs have you heard dillons? yeah. oh every single one every single and i've heard it hurt it over and over and over again. so you assessively yeah. oh, yeah. no, it's how many times my life? and well, he's probably has you know, the i i probably know by heart 300 of his songs, you know them by heart. how do you do that strum guitar and know the you know, a lot of the songs are just you know, you know, i might forget a lyric or something, but it's just dna and g and you know, it's it's you
remember a lot of language. i the words and the phrasing his ability to trades word he can draw out of valve or you know, it's just a remarkable artist and it's not me. i mean he won the nobel prize for literature recognized around the world for a unique unique gift of taking american street culture blues jazz. um tammany, i'm sorry, you know like vaudeville, he could take it all and put it into something that's his own. so in many ways he could be at times like robert rauschenberg painter where you're taking objects of everyday life and putting them together and he constructs these songs. dylan's songs are built to last. there's nothing they're not written for the whim of the moment. they'll be around forever based on what you know his songs. give me four or five things that he thinks of america.
he feels his america is in here anymore that it left meaning that the the technology factor that he does not care for things like a marriott that you can open the windows. he said the old school where you can open the windows america where you're allowed to smoke, you know, and so i and it used to be a big deal in an album came out and now all the streaming culture and all it's just that's not his world. he'll pioneer with it in the sense of selling his body of work here doing that. but he's a more an old time. traveling person in it. he's really interested in the 1920s music in 1930s. music civil war songs. he knows all the songs from the civil war. i mean, he's a walking kind of jukebox of all of america
american popular song carl sandburg the poet was that way and there's certain people or he his knowledge of the of the blues is just phenomenal and you know, he's to play with john lee hooker and victorious spivey and all of these early blues players. he once said to me that he really got the tail end of a black culture that's not there right now because he goes around sees martin luther king boulevard with the walmart, you know with wendy's and the fast food junctions of america, but he caught the talent of that heavy black culture on the late 50s and 60s where the the church is and the black neighborhood. in the black, you know, it was it was a deep rooted gospel kind of culture. it's still exists, but it's not as pronounced as it used to be. and that was the third part of our six-hour conversation with his historian and author douglas brinkley the rest of this
the george w bush council of economic advisors glenn hubbard argues government and business will need to invest more in american workers to offset job losses due to technology advances and globalization. find a full schedule of everything airing today on your program guide or visit booktv.org. beginning now jonathan shanzer of the foundation for defensive democracies looks at the clashes between israel and hamas in in the gaza strip in 2021. hello, and thank you for joining us today. i'm cliff may ftd's founder and president. we're pleased to have you joining us today for an event to mark the release of my colleague jonathan sanders. excellent new book gaza conflict 2021 hamas israel and