By the Way

Penn Jillette on Nobel winner Bob Dylan’s ‘breathtakingly good’ music

Penn and Teller will be at the Beau Rovage Resort & Casino on Friday, Nov. 11.
Penn and Teller will be at the Beau Rovage Resort & Casino on Friday, Nov. 11. Courtesy

Penn Jillette will be appearing with Penn & Teller at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino on Friday, Nov. 11. Tickets for the 8 p.m. performance start at $29 and are available at

I spoke on Thursday with Jillette by phone from his home in Las Vegas.

He said he was elated to have heard the news that musician Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Prize for Literature earlier in the day.

“None of us were surprised that Bob (Dylan) won the Nobel Prize — I’ve been saying he should win it for 20 years, but I knew he had been on the short list for the past five years,” Jillette said. “I was thrilled to pieces.”

Jillette, who is friends with Dylan’s manager Jeff Rosen, said he will be seeing the award winner musician and poet later in the evening at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.

“The night you win the Nobel Prize is the night you need to be playing on the stage in a casino in Vegas, don’t you think,” he asked.

I asked him what album or period of Dylan’s music really resonated with him.

“It’s funny because when you are talking about popular music, it tends to be very personal and you have these songs that you like that are deep in your heart, but with Dylan, it may actually be the literature,” he said. “I don’t appreciate Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’ because of what it meant to me in my life, I appreciate it because it’s literature and I think Bob crosses over into that.”

But, as with any Dylan fan, Jillette said he does have some albums that he listens to more than others.

“I’m a huge fan of ‘Street Legal,’ I come back to it over and over,” he said. “I’m also one of the people, and there are many of us, who tell people when they ask how they should get into Dylan to start with the 21st Century — I don’t think you do better than ‘Love and Theft,’ ‘Modern Times’ and ‘Tempest,’ I think those three records are breathtakingly good.”