“I’m a Big Roger Miller Fan Myself.”


There’s an interview with Rudy Wurlitzer over at Chuck Palahniuk’s site; we recently reviewed his first novel, Nog. Although the introduction features some questionable vocab (Wurlitzer is said to be “imminently” readable, which I guess means he’s always about to be readable), the interview itself is interesting and worth checking out.

At one point Wurlitzer dismisses decades of reviews that peg Nog as a record of a drug trip — based upon no evidence whatsoever, I might add, apart from sales copy — and he describes his artistic aims really well. I recommend that bit of the interview.

But that’s not the part I want to quote. The part I’m going to present you is his story of introducing Bob Dylan to Sam Peckinpah. It involves semi-nudity, gunfire, and tequila. (Like many good stories in life.) Check it after the jump.

After Two-Lane Blacktop I was hired to write Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid for Sam Peckinpah. As I was finishing the script, Bob Dylan came over to my apartment on the Lower East Side and asked if maybe he could be involved as he had always felt connected to Billy the Kid, implying that maybe he was a reincarnation of the famous outlaw. I called the producer who was thrilled at the thought of a Bob Dylan score and suggested that I write Dylan a part and then fly to Mexico to meet Sam who was busy with pre-production. We arrived in Durango late one evening and immediately went out to see Sam, who was living outside of town. As we approached the house there was a gunshot from inside, followed by a terrified maid running out the front door. Hesitating, we stepped inside as another shot rang out from upstairs. I called out for Sam, but there was no sound, no answer. Fearing the worst, we crept upstairs. At the end of the hall we found Sam in his bedroom standing half-naked in front of a smashed full length mirror staring at his shattered image, a pistol in one hand and a bottle of tequila in the other. “Hi, Sam,” I finally managed to mumble. “This is Bob Dylan. He wants to be in the film. I’ve taken the liberty of writing a part for him.”  After a long pause, Sam turned, slowly looking Dylan over before he replied, “I’m a big Roger Miller fan myself.” After another long silence, Dylan and I left and I was sure that was the end of it. But amazingly Dylan was thrilled by this meeting with the old outlaw film director, and from then on became an important part of the film, writing one of the all time great scores as well as playing the part of Alias, a mysterious member of Billy the Kid’s gang.

Jeremy Hatch is a writer, musician, and professional bookseller leading a cheerful, aimless life in San Francisco. He is the Junior Literary Editor of the Rumpus and has a blog which he updates once in a while. More from this author →