Q&A March/April 2011, Part I
5/16/2011 (updated 5/16/2011)

I stumbled upon a You Tube video from Spain, 1991, in which you played guitar behind Bob Dylan. Could you comment on that experience and what it was like for you? Thanks. Vincent and Leslie

Obviously a thrill to play with Dylan. That's the only time I've met him. The music was somewhat rough and ready, possibly the way he likes it, and there were various technical problems to be dealt with, but it was a great experience, as I tell my dinner party guests.

I was recently listening to an interview with Robert Wyatt from a few years back and at one point he talked about Scottish folk music. I know he also curated Meltdown in 2001 and I'm wondering if the two of you have ever collaborated? It seems like it would be a nice combination. Thanks, Ted

I don't know Robert Wyatt, but I've enjoyed a lot of his work. Would it be a nice combination? I've no idea.

I attended your performance this past Saturday night at Carnegie Hall, which I enjoyed immensely as usual, until the point where we were all plunged into darkness during your final number.

Did I misinterpret things or did Carnegie Friggin' Hall seriously cut the lights on you because you went over 11:30?  I hope I'm right, because I've already sent the angry e-mail to them.  What unprofessional, shabby behavior.  You handled it with understated class, unsurprisingly.  Is this sort of thing standard practice? Thanks, Michael

I was told that the computer on the lighting rig failed. I've had issues with other New York union crews, but the guys at Zankel Hall were pleasant and professional.

Have you read the Keith Richards book and if so, what was your reaction?

Not yet. I'm looking forward to it!

When you write a song about a character from a period in time other than the present (e.g., Beeswing, Al Bowlly's in Heaven), do you engage in any sort of research to gain a knowledge and understanding of the world the character inhabits? If so, what sort of source material do you use? I ask because my grandfather was born in Glasgow in 1889, and I would like to try and write a song about how life might have been for him back then.

I think it helps to know as much as possible about the song subject, even if you don't use 99% of the research. I think you need the intention of a novelist, even if the song only lasts 3 minutes. For a song about Glasgow at the turn of the century, you could try any novels set in the period and place, any history books that would cover it - Glasgow at that time was an important industrial centre - and if you had time, you could pop into the Glasgow Herald, and look at newspapers of the period (maybe they have that online). Also a feel for the general history of the period would be useful.

How involved are you in the musical careers of your offspring? Do Teddy and Kami seek out your advice on production or music business-related  issues? Do they run songs by you for your opinion?

I'm not that involved. I'm always there to chip in my two pennies-worth, but these kids have their heads firmly screwed on, and perhaps the advice should be flowing the other way. Musically, I usually hear stuff when it's finished, but I'm happy to give advice if asked.

In an answer to a question I submitted months ago pertaining to your interest in World War II, you mentioned that you like thehardware. Do you have a favorite piece of WW2 military hardware, be it an aircraft, ship, tank or other or land-based piece of equipment? (I assume whatever it is, it's British.)

I might have to go for the German 88mm anti-tank/anti-aircraft gun. Such versatility.

You have played many venues in New York City, including the Bottom Line, Beacon Theater, Apollo Theater, Town Hall, among others. Given the history of Carnegie Hall, was playing at Zankel Hall special in any way? (I know from Simon's posting on Facebook that you got a chance to see a nice hunk of Manhattan schist!)

My only experience of Carnegie Hall was the Spirituals To Swing recordings, which are not great quality. Zankel is a very good hall acoustically, and I enjoyed playing there. Before my show, we went upstairs to visit our old friend Ed Haber in the recording booth at Carnegie Hall, where they were doing a Mozart piano concerto - that sounded just amazing.