Triple Played: Q&A with singer/songwriter Jimmy LaFave, who’ll be here Sept. 4
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jimmy LaFave, who will perform at the Roper Ballroom on Saturday, Sept. 4.
Through this interview, I was better able to get to know this singer/songwriter. Here is some of our conversation.
Rock: A lot of singer/songwriters who come along with a song and a guitar are compared to Bob Dylan. They are the next Bob Dylan.
It happened to John Prine and Steve Forbert and others, and I am sure someone said that about you. I believe that it is not fair to the artist or to Bob.
However, on your first record you covered four Bob Dylan songs. What was the motivation behind that?
Jimmy: Well, I just love his song writing, and I like to think I interpret them more than cover them because some of them are pretty different than his versions.
And when people say that to me about the “new’ Dylan stuff and all that, I like to use that line of his: “Mama take this badge off of me” (laughter) because no one is going to compare.
It’s like you said, it’s not fair to anyone to even go down that path.
Rock: I have written more than once that Bob Dylan is the greatest singer/songwriter of all, but sometimes it is more evident when someone else sings one of his songs.
Jimmy: He really is the greatest of our times, or a lot of times, actually. He is such a poet and everything and, you know, it is so clear for me to see beyond it.
Dylan is the type of guy who will be mentioned in encyclopedias and history books long after Garth Brooks and Toby Keith and the mega stars, American Idols ... you know, they won’t even be a footnote in history, where as Dylan will be mentioned like Shakespeare! People don’t even see that now.
We (the band) were just talking about that the other night about, well, Dylan on a good night is not going to sell out a stadium like U2 could, but he is so much more important than U2 in the historical context of music, to where U2 won’t even be in those encyclopedias
But Dylan will be because he is quite the enigma.
Rock: I couldn’t agree more with you and it’s shame it gets watered down with something like American Idol when guys like Guy Clark get dropped from their label, Asylum Records, after the great “Dublin Blues” CD.
He then changes labels and releases three of his best recordings. Everyone who is trying to write songs should listen to Guy Clark.
Jimmy: Yeah, yeah he is definitely one of the best especially for being a Texas songwriter. But if you go to Texas now it is about all these new bands that can’t even hold a candle to Guy Clark. He is definitely one of the poet laureates from Texas and one of my favorites.
Rock: It has always been my contention that some of the best singer/songwriters come out of Texas and have for a number of years.
Folks such as Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Robert Earl Keen, Steve Earle, Kevin Welch and others are great.
Jimmy: I remember that Steve Earle quote about standing on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in his cowboy boots and yelling that Townes Van Zandt was the greatest singer/songwriter ever. But I know Townes would bow down to Dylan.
In fact, when Dylan came to Austin, Townes hunted him down!
I’ll run another part of my interview with LaFave in next week’s column.