The Dylan-loving singer talks about his new album and his first job

By EW Staff
July 13, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

What about Bob?
I wasn’t a Dylan fan immediately. I was at university [in Newcastle, England, in the late 1960s] and had a soul band, the Gas Board. I wanted suits, quiffs, and dance moves. So when students came clutching Dylan albums, I thought, ”Acoustic guitar? Not my thing.” Then he went electric and my prejudice was overcome.

The Quiet Man
I’ve never met Dylan. We’re both quite shy. If I was trapped in a lift with Dylan, there would be a lot of pregnant silences — like [in] Beckett or Pinter. I think it would be a good little playlet!

Roxy Music Update
Dylanesque was a holiday from making the new Roxy CD. Brian Eno [ex-Roxy member] came in for two days, mucking about. His great thing is ideas. And bags of personality — too much! He was the most competitive in the band, apart from me.

Coal Miner’s Son
My dad was a farm laborer [in northern England]. He went down the coal mine to look after the horses. One day there was this guy who was mistreating the ponies. My dad knocked him out.

Stylin’ Start
I worked at a tailor’s shop when I was 16. They had these books of style patterns. One would be called the Berkeley, and it would be a guy with a pencil mustache and a bowler, with a Rolls-Royce going past. Wonderful drawings of a glamorous life.

For the Record
I was very upset by the recent brouhaha [Ferry was criticized in the U.K. for allegedly praising Nazi iconography]. I’ve embraced two cultures in my career: black American music and American Jewish culture, which produced George Gershwin and Kurt Weill. The idea that I’m anti-Semitic is ludicrous!