Self Portrait


The most important thing I know I learned from Woody Guthrie. I'm my own person. I've got basic common rights - whether I'm here in this country or any other place. I'll never finish saying everything I feel, but I'll be doing my part to make some sense out of the way we're living, and not living, now. All I'm doing is saying what's on my mind the best way I know how. And whatever else you say about me, everything I do and sing and write comes out of me.
- from the sleeve notes to the album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, released in May 1963 by Colombia Records

a song is anything that can walk by itself / i am called a songwriter. a poem is a naked person ... some people say that i am a poet 
- from the sleeve notes to the album Bringing It All Back Home, released March 1965 by Colombia Records

Well that was a joke, that album was put out at a time I didn’t like the attention I was getting. I never did want attention. At that time I was getting the wrong kind of attention for things I hadn’t done. So we released that album to get people off my back, so they would not like me anymore, that’s the reason the album was put out, so people would stop buying my records, and they did.
– from a press conference in Germany, 1981. Source: Johanna's Visions website

I said: “Well, fuck it I wish these people would just forget about me. I wanna do something they can’t possibly like, they can’t relate to. They’ll see it and they’ll listen and they’ll say: “Well let’s go on to the next person. He ain’t sayin’ it no more. He ain’t givin’ us what we want,” you know? They’ll go on to somebody else.” But the whole idea back-fired. Because the album went out there, and the people said, “This ain’t what we want”, and they got more resentful. 
Rolling Stone Magazine, 1984. Source: Johanna's Visions website

Self Portrait was a bunch of tracks that we'd done all the time I'd gone to Nashville. We did that stuff to get a (studio) sound. To open up we'd do two or three songs, just to get things right and then we'd go on and do what we were going to do. And then there was a lot of other stuff that was just on the shelf. But I was being bootlegged at the time and a lot of stuff that was worse was appearing on bootleg records. So I just figured I'd put all this stuff together and put it out, my own bootleg record, so to speak. You know, if it actually had been a bootleg record, people probably would have sneaked around to buy it and played it for each other secretly. Also, I wasn't going to be anybody's puppet and I figured this recorord would put an end to that ... I was just so fed up with all that who people thought I was nonsense.
- Biograph, 1985 (sleeve notes by Cameron Crowe)




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