A Word From Todd Snider: What Would You Say If You Met Bob Dylan?

todd snider dylan.jpg
"i'm hoping if i ever meet bob dylan that i don't end up pinned under a garage door."
To continue our celebration of the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan's arrival in New York City, we've asked folk singer/jovial Renaissance Man Todd Snider for his thoughts on Dylan's legacy, and his intimidating stature among other artists and songwriters. So he told us a bunch of stories -- the one about Dylan in the van is incredible. We were afraid to do anything to this editing-wise, so we didn't.

Todd Snider On Bob Dylan (1/21/11)

it's hard to think of new ways to consider bob dylan and his work
he's probably the most debated and discussed singer to ever live.
but here's a question. especially for songwriters.
what are you going to do if you meet bob dylan?
have you thought about it? do you have a plan?
i've been working on a plan since i was about twenty years old
and still don't really have one.
is it presumptuous for someone to think they might meet bob dylan?
i don't think so.
from what i hear, he likes to stay on the poorer side of town.
and we know from the story about the cop who didn't recognize him
that he goes for walks.
i know a guy who thought he saw him on a street corner but wasn't sure
if he was bob dylan or a hobo that looked like him.
bob caught him staring and said "it's me"
my friend didn't say anything back.
i know a guy that was in a studio once with him and witnessed a situation
where somebody's booking agent gave bob a rambling speech about
the impact his music had on the world as he was sticking his hand out
to introduce himself.
my friend says bob just stood up without extending his own hand, walked
over to an exercise bike and got up on there
and started pedaling without saying a word.
in front of people no less.
what are you gonna do if you ever meet bob dylan?
i know another who was on a dylan session where they came back in
to listen to a track and after all the famous musicians got done with their two cents
bob asked the intern gopher kid what he thought and went with that.
i don't know what the hell i'd say if i was around bob dylan.
another buddy of mine had a band that played a festival in europe with him
and he said to get back to the hotels everybody had to take the same ferry
leaving the bands, bob included, exposed to the crowd.
my friend found a table with a chess board on it and sat down
and noticed bob dylan leaning against the rail and looking at the water.
at first nobody noticed him but eventually he started to get surrounded.
my friend got up and walked right up to him and said
"bob we got the chess board you wanted"
and bob saw his chance and took it. my buddy got to play silent chess with him
the whole trip and as long as bob seemed engaged people seemed to
leave him alone.
i don't know if i'd have had the courage to do that.
i also know a musician who got a call from bob dylan's manager
saying that bob wanted to ask him a few questions about a certain instrument.
my friend didn't know bob even knew who he was and was floored.
"of course" he yelled. "when?" ...
"how's today" the guy answered.
"fine with me" my friend said "what time"
"how bout now" the manager answered.
"sure . . . where do i go" my friend shot back
"well." the manager went on. "you seen that brown van out in front of your house?"
"bob's in there."
holy shit.
i got another buddy that said he was gonna audition for bob once
and the plan was for bob to come over to my friend's house.
my friend was supposed to have tuned guitars ready. he did.
bob came in with his dogs and kids. the kids started right in messing
with the guitar pegs and a dog shit. they never spoke of either thing.
then bob wanted to know if there was any other guitars and so my friend went out to the garage
to get a new one and somehow managed to get himself pinned under his own garage door.
so within a few minutes of meeting bob dylan my friend was screaming out to him for help.
i'm hoping if i ever meet bob dylan that i don't end up pinned under a garage door.
speaking of doors i heard another story from a studio in memphis where bob came in
to sing on somebody's record or something. they all say he didn't speak a word to anyone
the whole time. even when spoken to. and then, upon leaving he turned to the receptionist
and said "big doors huh."
no one remembers what she said back.
i have another buddy that worked with him once and made fun of his hooded sweatshirt
disguise. and bob brought him a hooded sweatshirt.
that seems like it worked
another buddy of mine auditioned at bob's house. he said he was kept waiting a while.
he said he told bob how great he thought he was. bob said nothing.
they picked a bit and bob got up and left.
i have another buddy that was staying with a famous guy on an island.
one day putzing around on something to do street he sees bob dylan
and screws up the courage to walk over and say
"hey bob i'm so and so and i'm staying over at so and so's house,
i know he'd love to see you. you want to come with us."
he says bob just stared at him a minute and walked off.
i don't think i'd try to insinuate some mutual friend thing if i ever met bob dylan.
but what do you do. tell him you like his lyrics for fuck's sake.
or a particular song? are you kidding? a particular song?
no fucking way. or a period. can you imagine what he does here?
can you imagine how many people that never even consider once what
they would say if they met bob dylan get to.
and i'm standing around here like a schmuck.
and what do they say? they say shit like "my dad loves you"
or "my kid loves you" or "when are you going to do this or that again"
or "we loved you in the '60s"
you know i bet he gets as much of that as he gets the
"what did you mean by this" or "what made you say that"
or how bout the odd "were you talking about me"
fuck i've got that before. and i'm a folk singer from the '90s for fuck's sake.
they don't even really have those.
imagine how much crazy shit bob dylan hears?
especially all you traveling musicians who hear crazy shit yourself sometimes.
imagine how many of us have gushed him blue in the fucking face.
imagine how many superstars have just superlatived him sick in the fucking stomach.
should everybody just leave him alone? that doesn't seem right.
it seems like sometimes he should get to hear a "thanks bob"
which is essentially what all of it really is.
thank you. that's the only part of my plan that's been in there for a while.
i can't help myself from wanting to add.
"and not just for the songs and music either, but for the books and movies and interviews
and videos and photo shoots and concerts and the big dome house and the shades.
and all that shit. and speaking of the songs and the music. i love all of it.
every inch of it. every song, period, show, band, outtake, fucking all of it.
no favorites.
but you see here i go . . . now i'm starting to talk to the very bob dylan
the same way i talk to my nephew about bob dylan.
in that spastic way that remind me of an old far side cartoon
where the two gorillas are under a banana tree gorging on bananas
when one turns to the other and says
"you know man, i know we're supposed to like bananas. being gorillas and all
but i think its different for me. i mean, i really like them"
that's how most true bob dylan fans sound when they start trying to explain him.
that poor fucking bob dylan shouldn't have to meet anybody.
i wonder if he likes to sometimes. i wonder if there are compliments he likes.
anyway i better wrap this up. i'm heading over to my nephew's bar mitzvah.
god i hope bob dylan isn't there. i'm not ready damn it.
i'm just not ready.


Todd Snider plays Joe's Pub February 2-3.

See Also:

The Sex Shop Near Where Bob Dylan Lived

Interview: Famed Bob Dylan Violinist Scarlet Rivera On The Chance NYC-Street Meeting That Changed Her Life

Rock-Critic Pop Quiz #4: How Many '60s Bob Dylan Albums Can You Name?

Let's Play "Name Your Favorite Bob Dylan Song," Starring No Age, Robyn Hitchcock, DJ Rekha, Greg Dulli, And More

Dylan's Voice Archive: Nobody Likes Him In His Hometown

Dylan In NYC, Day 4: Haunting The Washington Square Hotel And The 8th Street Bookshop

Bob Dylan In NYC, Day 3: Revisiting The Gaslight, The Village Gate, And More

Dylan's Voice Archives: In Praise Of The Kinder, Gentler Blonde on Blonde

Bob Dylan In NYC, Day 2: Revisiting Jones Street And 161 West 4th

Bob Dylan's New York City: Why It Never Got Better Than 1961

Dylan's Voice Archives: Mods And Rockers Face Off In An Epic Orgy Of Stage-Crashing And Fruit-Throwing

Bob Dylan In NYC: Revisiting Cafe Wha? And 94 MacDougal

Bob Dylan Arrived In New York City 50 Years Ago Today

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I'm writing a play about this very thing.  Stuck in an elevator with Dylan.  What's your first question?  Mine: Were you pissed that Joan did better with Boots of Spanish Leather than you? 


If I ever meet Bob, I'm gonna say, "wanna grab some lunch?"


Just now seeing this as a link to a Dylan fan message board.  Some friends and I just saw Dylan 7/11/13 in Peoria, Il and we met him before the show in the parking lot for the hotel he was staying in (it shared the parking lot with our hotel, we couldn't believe it!).  It was only us and he was super relaxed and very amiable to talk with.  We hung out for about 10 minutes.  He took the time to meet the whole family, kids and all and signed a couple of personalize autographs.  We mostly talked about things in the moment, nothing about his past.  I did ask him a question about Duquesne Whistle -- the reference to Carbondale, my home town  in Illinois and he said that was the one and gave me a little wink.  Afterwards he went for a walk with his body guard and, as we drove past him heading to the show, he waved and hoped we liked the show.  It was a perfect 10 minutes that our family will cherish forever.  He genuinely seemed charmed by our encounter.  My personalized signed post card is going in my "cherish forever" file.   


I saw a Dylan concert in Jackson, MS where Todd Snider opened. It was in October of 1997 and Snider was blabbering jibberish like "I'm opening for Bob Fucking Dylan." He sang the opening line of "Tangled Up In Blue" and did a 'preciable take on the Bobster. Guess they didn't hang out much.


I think he has the same view that Forrest Gump did when he decided to run, not much to say at all.


I hope and pray I never meet him. What could he possibly say that he hasn't said already. Besides I hear he's rather challenging to be around socially, (and who can blame him?). Though I've loved him and his work since the 60s, as a woman I've sometimes had problems with his attitude towards women, both lyrically and anecdotally. At a younger age, being a pretty and witty little hippy, I was convinced that if I did meet him, I'd be able to capture his attention. It's been a long time since I accepted, together with atheism, that Dylan's not a God, that I enjoy seeing him especially in interviews and documentaries when he speaks in that unique style that's truly his own. I also realized many years ago, that the man has no manners or gratitude towards his audiences. What would I say to him? I'd turn my back and run like hell...


"Aren't you Jakob's dad?"


Ha ha, great story of stories, Todd! I hope the hell I never meet Bob coz I'd stammer like a star struck teenager and then I'd have to kill myself because he'd look at me with distain, or worse, disinterest. Hell, he didn't even talk to Obama, fer crissakes!My MySpace name (yeah, yeah I know, who uses MySpace?) is The Future Mrs. Bob Dylan... as if....whatever, and come to think of it, embarrassing as hell so why am I even mentioning it. See? This is why I'd never want to meet him. I turn into an idiot when it comes to Bob.


Im lost for for words,dried up.


I met Bob 3 times and had no trouble at all talking to him or having him talk to me... our first meeting we chatted up a storm for about 20 minutes and it was him keeping it going...go figure

bobfan, do we know each other???


some combination of

cracking up laughinga hugand jusat looking t him with acheeky smile saying"you took your time you bastard"


kid bopper
kid bopper

i think Mr Snider,s piece may be the best dylan biography we,re ever read, and not just the best but the funniest & the shortest.i spoke with Max Weinberg once & managed to make a fool & a nuisance of myself in very short order. that was thirty years ago. ten years ago i managed to exchange a pleasant hello & thank you for the show with Magic Slim. that,s progress, but i think i have to face the likelihood that i,m just not capable of speaking with Mr Dylan.

Patrick Walsh
Patrick Walsh

Hey Todd, with so many of your 'buddys' havin' met Bob maybe you should consider recording ' He was a Friend of a Friend of Mine '....and dedicating it to...


I've often thought of this myself. "Thanks for everything. It wouldn't have been the same without you."


Todd Snider is a treasure. Not quite Dylan, mind you, but he's welcome over to my house for Sunday dinner any week he picks. Except this week, I'm out of town.


I have a friend who's met him 3 times. She says most of the conversations were pretty normal.


my friend was working at a hotel in a town where he was touring...she was out back smoking and he walked up to her and asked her for a light....i still think it's the coolest story every. I gave bob dylan a light...damn


I'd say, "Hey Bob, my very first record when I was a little kid was a 45 of Blowin' in the Wind. Thanks for putting me on the right track."

hebrew hombre
hebrew hombre

I know I would just freeze like a deer in headlights so I don't have to worry what I'd say o him.


What am I gonna say when I meet Todd Snider?


Loved the sentence "superlatived him sick in the f'ing stomach"! I would ask Bob to talk about why the music of Townes Van Zandt meant so much to him. That, he would probably talk about.


I'd say: "Hey, aren't you Leonard Cohen?"


I met Bob when my Brother's band opened for him at the Paramount in Seattle. He was walking down the stairs to the stage as I was going up. Had a gray and black pin striped suit on. Not wanting to be a jerk of a fan I just stopped and said "nice suit" and made my way up the stairs. I'm sure he was relieved I wasn't some freaked out fanatic. I was glad I wasn't.


oops-hope you don't mind but I thought of something else:

"Ain't no use talkin' to me- be the same as talkin' to you."


Love this- but I won't gush.People ask me that all the time just because I'm such a Dylan freak... I've been calling him my imaginary boyfriend for years. lol

As teenager/young woman back in the late 60's early 70's of course I wanted to meet him, thought about it, fantasized of seeing him in Washington square Park etc. But over the years I've decided I don't want to meet him.A. What do you say?and B. I like- enjoy the "relationship" I have with him and his music. I know he's a regular guy with things I will like and things I would dislike about him. I think i'd rather keep him as an archetypal figure that sends my mind reeling now and then and who is endlessly fascinating as an artist, an example of making the artists journey and as a human being.

On the other hand....I might say as I looked at my watch- " what kept you so long, I've been waiting."Or "where the hell have you been?"

Desmond John
Desmond John

I met him the day he made the video for Political World. There were some people standing around and he came over and started talking to me. He seemed OK. I later saw him outside and talked to him alone. It got real quiet laughs. He shook hands and it was cool. I think he likes to be appreciated but I think he appreciates alot of other people too. I didn't bug him and he was cool. And he was wearing a hood laughs.


I think you're supposed to say hello in a friendly manner, ask him if he wants a cigarette and talk about baseball (only if you know anything about baseball). Don't talk "business" unless he's warmed up, then talk about the Chess recordings (only if you know a lot about the Chess recordings). That's 1.


Stop smoking.Tour less.Write more.


I think I'd say "I never quite knew what the fuck you were talking about, but thanks for saying it."


Brilliant. I've often thought the same thing. My plan? Not to say anything. Just to smile and nod.


great and funny as always....i am going to look up f..ing. it seems the common word in everything i read and hear today...i need to know the meaning of it from another view...


If I were Bob I'd want to punch anyone who publicly referred to me as 'Bob F*****g Dylan'. His middle name's Allen.


I thought about this article and I just wanted to say, it's cool and all to have met Bob but really, people make more out of what would they do, what would they say, how they would act, etc... not for anything... it's ridiculous as was this article... sorry I just find people act a bit ... how should I describe it, school girl giddy when addressing something like this... I mean, he's not God for goodness sakes... get on with it

you meet bob great... you don't ... okay life goes onif you want to prep yourself, do it, but dedicating a whole article about it and your friend's experiences??? wow...whatever

I must say, I skipped half of the bullshit you wrote... it was tediousbut it sure explains why Bob sometimes acts the way he does...


You ask what would I say to Dylan? Probably, dress up a bit, get a haircut, and most of all take voice lessons.......


met bob outside the hammersmith odeon back in 1990 I think,the first series of shows he played there,he just walking up to the venue with a woman on his arm,she was tall and blonde,i believe it was sally Kirkland,he had a white hoodie on and was wearing leather fingerless gloves,i put my hand out and said hello bob,he shuck my hand and said how are you doing man,his hand was soft and his eyes were stunningly blue,he was smiling and friendly,



Congratulations, your ability to talk utter shite in non-sequitors is astounding. No, Bob Dylan isn't god because 'god' is an imaginary benign dictator and Bob Dylan's a real-life flesh and blood genius. If you're too thick to understand his brilliance, then bugger off. This is a great article. Funny, concise and insightful. Thanks Todd.

j. rancid
j. rancid

I know exactly what I would say if I ever met you.

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