Bob Dylan Talks About Heroin Addiction, Suicidal Thoughts
An old interview with Bob Dylan was recorded in 1966 in which music critic Robert Shelton talked to the musician about life, music – and heroin addiction. The interview wasn’t released or published until the BBC found it recently, and many fans have found it interesting to hear confirmation of the many heroin addiction rumors that have been floating around about Dylan for decades.
Said Dylan on tape back in March of 1966: “I kicked a heroin habit in New York City. I got very, very strung out. I had about a $25-a-day habit and I kicked it.”
But heroin addiction wasn’t his only topic of discussion during the interview. Though his music often discussed death and dying, those lyrics usually referenced war, not suicide or depression. It turns out, that Dylan’s interest in the subject of death was a bit more personal, according to the taped interview:
“Death to me is nothing. I could easily have gone over and done it. I will admit to having a suicide thing. I will try it, man. I will try my best but I came through this time. I’m not the kind of cat that’s going to cut my ear…I would shoot myself in the brain or jump from the window.”
Dylan’s relationship with heroin, death and suicide was not based on a Sartre-like existentialism. To Dylan, something else comes after life and he was under no illusions that his music would save him, no matter how beloved it was by others:
“I take it less seriously than anybody. It’s not going to help me into heaven one little bit. It’s not going to save me from the fiery furnace…It’s not going to make me happy – you can’t be happy by doing something groovy.”
Maybe it was the belief that he would have to answer for his choices during life that helped him to kick his heroin addiction. Religion and spirituality can be a great motivator to help those who need it to get the help they need in treatment. It’s not an easy decision to take on the changes that come with a clean and sober life, and whatever gives you the strength you need to begin the process of creating a real change in life can be an extremely positive thing.
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