Interview reveals Dylan was suicidal and a heroin addict

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The Independent Culture

In a newly-discovered interview recorded at the height of his fame, folk legend Bob Dylan admitted being suicidal and having a heroin addiction.

The singer-songwriter was taped by his friend and biographer Robert Shelton on a plane journey in March 1966.

He said: “I kicked a heroin habit in New York City. I got very, very strung out for a while, I mean really very strung out... I had about a $25 -aday habit and I kicked it.”

By 1966, when the interview was recorded, Dylan had already caused controversyby moving away from his folk roots. His European tour that year saw him backed by rock musicians and a gig at Manchester Free Trade Hall became famous when a member of the audience branded Dylan “Judas” for betraying acoustic folk music.

Some of the recently rediscovered tapes, which will be included in a new edition of Shelton’s book NoDirection Home, were played on Radio 4’s Today. The singer told Shelton he thought about suicide, saying: “Death to me is nothing. I could have easily gone over and done it.

I’m not the kind of cat that’s going to cut off an ear if I can’t do something. I’m the kind of cat that would just commit suicide. I’d shoot myself in the brain. If things got bad I’d jump from a window.”

Dylan, whose lyrics have been pored over by academics and fans, told Shelton he took his work “less seriously than anybody”.

He said: “I know that it’s not going to help me into heaven one little bit, man. It’s not going to get me out of the fiery furnace... it’s not going to make me happy. You can’t be happy by doing something groovy.”