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Cover Story: The Wallflowers

Grizzled Jeff Bridges. The Academy Award-winning actor with a speech pattern monopolized by a tongue that’s two sizes too big for his mouth. That’s who Jakob Dylan would like to see emulate him on the big screen.

“[He] does a good job of playing characters like me,” Dylan contends by phone two weeks before the release of Glad All Over, his new album with the reconvened Wallflowers. “I saw Starman last night and I thought I saw a lot of similarities. I felt dropped in from outer space myself. And he can sing.”

Appearing: 11/2 at Park West (322 W. Armitage) in Chicago.

Recreating the singer’s life on celluloid doesn’t seem like a far-fetched notion. After all, Hollywood’s turning the late Jeff Buckley’s struggle to escape the shadow of a famous father on his way to forging a musical identity into (at last count) three movies. While Buckley’s untimely drowning in 1997 adds heft to any live-action depiction – the kind of awards bait studios love – Dylan spent his 42 years contending with a legacy that rivals only The Beatles.

Not that he would allow anyone to exploit his son-of-rock’s-greatest-living-poet status. “Just as long as none of it was actually true or the worst-case scenario is they actually tell it like it happened. As long as I have license and freedom to adjust it, sure,” Dylan wryly says of his willingness to green light a film if the opportunity ever arose.

It’s a shame The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is already taken. It possesses a better ring than say, The Perks Of Being Sired By Bob Dylan. However, that title would misrepresent the youngest of the Dylan brood. After two solo albums and six with The Wallflowers (including 1996’s Grammy-winning, quadruple platinum Bringing Down The Horse), Dylan’s patriarchal lineage deserves a mention in at least the second sentence of his epitaph.

Horse essentially jumpstarted Dylan’s career after the band’s self-titled debut flopped. Does he have an ornery relationship to that collection, especially “One Headlight,” the way Radiohead knocks “Creep”?

“I’m grateful to have them,” he professes. “We play those songs and they’ve got a great connection with people that – it’s unique. And bands, that’s what they’re actually hoping for the whole time no matter how many new songs they write. Any song you have that connects with people is powerful and I have nothing but appreciation for those songs and it’s never outside my capacity to play songs that people connected to.”

A seven-year hiatus separates The Wallflowers’ last foray in the studio (2005’s Rebel, Sweetheart) and the shuffling Glad All Over. Dylan didn’t sever ties with boyhood buddies, keyboardist Rami Jaffee and bassist Greg Richling; rather, he took a much-needed leave of absence.

“I’ve been working on the band since I was 18. It runs pretty deep through my veins and it’s been an outlet for me since then. We never stopped with any animosity or any of the typical reasons bands breakup. We never made a pact that we were only gonna do the band. And everybody needed a break. I did,” Dylan concedes. “Even when the band seemed to take breaks in the past, I was always writing records for us so I never really had a chance to get off that merry-go-round. Our break just became longer than we anticipated. We just got really busy and we had actually been trying to get together for at least a year or so before we actually did.”

So what, no slammed doors? No shoes thrown against the wall missing someone’s head by a hair? No drumsticks coming precariously close to poking an eye out?

“We’ve done that,” Dylan admits. “But, I think the musical connection is stronger and we get over things fairly quickly and that’s O.K. It’s not all roses. All good groups have gone at it, but if the music is important and they feel that connection, then they’ll always find a way to get back together.”

Hold on! This chatter contains hints of Snow and Charming’s (of ABC’s Sunday night fractured fairytale “Once Upon A Time”) dimension-hopping, curse-breaking, destiny-fulfilling oath of “I’ll always find you.”

“And we have a strong connection that we feel is pretty undeniable,” Dylan continues. “We all have other outlets, but there’s a unifying connection we do have when we get in the same room.”

— Janine Schaults

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  1. mlh18 says:

    Can’t wait to see them at Park West on 11/2!

  2. We’ll see you there!

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