Blake Mills on working with Bob Dylan: “You don’t sit around and he explains the song to you – either you get it right away or you don’t”

“Musicians all love hearing everybody else’s first takes, but when it comes to our own it's really hard to live by”.

After working with Bob Dylan on his most recent LP Rough And Rowdy Ways, Blake Mills described the folk legend as a “performance-based” musician who works quickly.

“Everything that we did was happening in the room and performed as it sounds. So in that sense, it’s quick, almost like a live show,” said Mills, who runs one of the studios at Sound City, where Dylan’s latest album was recorded. Mills was speaking to Uncut for its June 2021 issue (out 15 April), as part of a cover feature celebrating Dylan’s 80th birthday this May.

“Everything that we did was happening in the room and performed as it sounds. So in that sense, it’s quick, almost like a live show,” Mills said. “There are certain people who definitely construct records in layers, but for Rough And Rowdy Ways – I think for most of Bob’s records – you get the sense that it’s more performance-based and live.

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“You don’t sit around with Bob and he explains the song to you – either you get it right away or you don’t.”

Mills went on to explain how the “live” nature of Dylan’s sessions could be hard for some musicians to stomach, especially for those used to doing multiple takes to get the perfect one.

“Musicians all love hearing everybody else’s first takes, but when it comes to our own it’s really hard to live by,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for people like Bob, who really practise that in their own work.”

Released in June 2020, Rough And Rowdy Ways is Dylan’s 39th studio album and his first record of original music since 2012’s Tempest.

In other Dylan news, the musician made waves in the music industry last December when he sold his 600-song-strong catalogue to Universal Music for an estimated $300million in one of the biggest publishing deals in music history.

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