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Enigmatic Bob's is a hard reign to define

'I AM interested in all aspects of life," Bob Dylan told Playboy magazine in 1978. "I have not really written yet anything to make me stop writing. Like, I haven't come to the place that Rimbaud came to when he decided to stop writing and run guns in Africa."

Fast forward to 28 years later and Bob Dylan doesn't look like he's ever going to reach that place where he gives up the pen. He has been writing music since he was a teenager, producing more than 500 songs on over 40 albums - songs that have become timeless, part of the world around us.

Dylan continues to amaze with his work over four decades in a career that has influenced everyone from Bono to Martin Scorsese to the Dalai Lama. There is no living musician who has been more influential. And there is no living musician - with the possible exception of Van Morrison - who would be as offended by such a description.

To his credit, like Van, he has always balked at any easy categorisation or pop-mythology. He once likened being being Bob Dylan to being in an Edgar Allan Poe story, "And you're just not that person everybody thinks you are, though they call you that all the time: 'You're the prophet. You're the saviour.' I never wanted to be a prophet or saviour. Elvis maybe, I could easily see myself becoming him. But prophet? No."

He added that his compositions were never meant to be anything other than songs. "If you examine the songs, I don't believe you're gonna find anything in there that says that I'm a spokesman for anybody or anything, really."

Dylan remains a mystery. After 40 years of public scrutiny, he is still, intriguingly, here, being Bob Dylan. Whoever Bob Dylan is. And on Saturday, Bob will be here among us once more. The faithful will come to Kilkenny to find joy and to scrutinise each and every syllable the Bard utters. But perhaps they shouldn't expect too much.

"There is not a person on the earth," he told the New York Times in 1966, "who takes it less seriously than I do. I know it is not going to help me into heaven or keep me out of the fiery furnace."

Still, expect Bob to transport his fans en masse to another spiritual level, both in Kilkenny and the following night at a sold-out Marquee in Cork. Who knows? Bob might even have some wise words to say about the late CJH.

Bob Dylan and his band headline the Kilkenny Source Festival on Saturday at Nowlan Park with guests The Flaming Lips. Tickets from Ticketmaster, phone (0818) 719-300 and all Ticketmaster outlets nationwide

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