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Dylan’s religious conversion put off Carter

books Updated: Jul 17, 2009 16:39 IST

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American singer songwriter Bob Dylan is said to have lost one of his biggest fans, former US President Jimmy Carter, when he converted from Judaism to Christianity, after wallowing in drugs and bed-hopping with female fans, reveals a new book.

Kevin Mattson, the author of What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?, which comes out this week from Bloomsbury, discusses Carter’s love of the famed folkie’s early music.

“By 1978, Dylan’s life had hit the skids,” the New York Post quoted him as writing.

“Recently divorced, he slept around with groupies and indulged in drugs while touring and recording his live album ‘At Budokan’. Some labelled him a washed-up relic of the ‘60s who recycled old material. Others called Dylan’s 1978 performances The Alimony Tour’,” he wrote.

And it was during these times that Dylan converted to Christianity and released his controversial LP “Slow Train Coming”, with its signature number “Gotta Serve Somebody”, preaching against “foreign oil controlling American soil” and “sheiks running around like kings”.

Dylan’s born-again recording session “nailed the coffin shut” on his ‘60s activist roots, and alienated him from Carter, according to Mattson, a professor of contemporary history at Ohio University.

“The hippie rock star had pushed rock ‘n’ roll from celebrating love and drugs to providing apocalyptic warnings about decadence,” he wrote.

“Jimmy Carter’s favourite rock musician now refused to sing the songs the president most enjoyed . . . [those] written before Dylan found Jesus,” he stated.