Bob Dylan And David Bowie Once Almost Duetted

What could have been...

David Bowie was an arch collaborator. An artist who constantly sought out other voices, his career was peppered by creative combinations – from Mick Ronson’s glam guitar through to Brian Eno’s studio possibilities, from Tin Machine’s group endeavours to his final jazz-leaning recordings, the English icon epitomised musical breadth.

One collaborator, though, managed to get away from him: Bob Dylan. David Bowie was a life-long Dylan fan, and wrote ‘Song For Bob Dylan’ on his classic album ‘Hunky Dory’.

Chatting to 6Music host Marc Riley back in 2005, David Bowie revealed that the pair came close to working together. The icon said that they discussed a potential duet, and swapped from ideas – before Bob Dylan then went quiet.

“I wrote a lot of things with Dylan,” he said. “Actually, not many people know that. Me and Dylan, we were going to do a duet thing at one time. We got it in our heads that we could do it a duet, like Art & Garfunkel thing, but in the next morning, I didn’t hear another word from him”.

Continuing, David Bowie told the host he felt a kinship with the legendary rock bard. “I feel that frankly over the last 20 years or so I’m pretty much my own man,” he explained. “I suppose it’s very cheeky of me to put myself in the same light, but if I look at Bob Dylan, he doesn’t have competition, he is just Bob Dylan. Whether you like him or don’t like him. Whether he does good stuff or bad stuff, he is still Bob Dylan.”

So what lies behind the comparison? Bowie felt the two operated in their own lanes, carving out their own artistic voice. “You don’t compare [Dylan] with anybody, it’s not a competitive kind of thing,” he said. “It’s the same with The Stones, I know they create mock competitions for them with other bands – I’ve noticed in America it’s been happening. But there is really no way that you can compare The Stones with anybody.”

Discussing his own output, David Bowie concluded: “I would hope, I think I’m probably am, in the same kind of position. I’m David Bowie, I’m either good, a pile of shit. I’m accessible or not accessible, obscure, very commercial. I changed all the time. But I’m still me.”

Re-visit the interview below.

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