Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples
Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples: They’ve toured together, cut studio tracks together, and have almost been married twice. It turns out that Bob asked Mavis to marry him in the early 1960's. . . and she said no. Years later, Mavis asked Bob, but this time he was already married. As Bob once wrote, “I don’t want to marry nobody/ if they already married”. Mavis has illuminated these proposals in a few interviews. They are lighthearted, funny, and touching at the same time:
Interview 1- Boston Globe
Q. How did this tour with Dylan come together?
A. My manager called me one day and said, “Mavis, we got a call — Bob Dylan wants you to open.” And I said, You’ve gotta be kidding! I would love to do that!
This is a month-and-a-half-long tour — that’s long for me. The other day Bobby said, [uses gravelly voice] “You gonna be all right? Not too much for you, is it, Mavis?” I said, “If it’s not too much for you, it’s not too much for me!” Because Bobby’s a little younger; he’s 75.
Q. How’s the tour going so far?
A. I love it. This is just the best thing that could happen. My dear friend from way back! I’ve known Bobby since 1963. I was so glad to see him. He’s looking well. We two old-timers, doing a month-and-a-half tour. Can’t beat it. Everybody’s asking me, “Are you and Bob going to get married?” Maybe I’ll propose to him this time.
Q. Right, he proposed to you once before.
A. Oh yeah, he proposed to me way back when we first met. I told him I was too young. Now, if he proposed to me, we’d be pushing each other around in wheelchairs. [laughs]
Q. Were you two dating?
A. We courted for several years. We’d write letters back and forth to each other. And my family was doing a lot of folk festivals, and we’d see each other on the road. We dated for a while. This was back in the ’60s.
Q. Where’d you meet?
A. We were doing a TV show in New York for ABC, and we were all standing outside, and his manager said to him, “I want you to meet the Staple Singers.” And Bob said, “I know them; I’ve been listening to them since I was 12 years old.”
We talked; he talked a lot to my brother. After that day, he told my father he wanted to marry me. We met at Newport [Folk Festival] but I don’t think I should tell too much more about me and Bobby’s life. Because Bob might not want his business in the street. [laughs]
Q. Anything else you want to say about the tour?
A. Bob’s crew, everyone is so nice. He has so many people with him! He has a big organization, Bobby. . . we go to lunch; we go to dinner. He has a great caterer. I said to Bob, You gotta call me for another tour! And he said [uses gravelly voice] “OK, Mavis, I’m gonna call you for another tour.” [laughs] I just love to hear him talk, you know.
Interview 2: NPR
STAPLES: You didn't know that I toured with Dylan, did you?
SAGAL: Oh, yeah, I didn't know that you also toured with Dylan.
STAPLES: Six weeks.
SAGAL: Oh, my gosh.
STAPLES: Six weeks.
SAGAL: You and Dylan.
STAPLES: Yes, indeed.
SAGAL: And how was that?
STAPLES: Oh, that was great.
SAGAL: Now let me say...
STAPLES: This time I proposed to him.
SAGAL: Did you really?
BURBANK: Did you...
STAPLES: I did.
SAGAL: How'd that go? Did you - tell me what - how do you propose to Bob Dylan?
STAPLES: Well, first thing I said, oh, Bobby. I said, oh, I've been wanting to see you. I've been missing you. Bobby said, well, if you'd married me you could've seen me every day.
SAGAL: Oh, he's bitter. Is he still bitter about...
STAPLES: Oh, he was mad. I said, don't treat me like that. Why you taking that tone of voice? But he meant it.
STAPLES: He meant it.
BURBANK: Is it possible that when he proposed to you, Mavis, you just didn't understand what he was saying?
SAGAL: That'd be really funny. He's like, Mavis (unintelligible).
STAPLES: (Laughter) Yeah. But he made it really clear, you know? I understand where you coming from.
SAGAL: So we're about - oh, I don't know - 50 years from - on from that. Was the magic between you still there?
STAPLES: (Laughter) you know, someone knocked on my door in the dressing room - someone wants to see you. And I knew who it was. And I felt like I knew who it was.
STAPLES: And here he comes. And he has these sunglasses on where I can see myself in the sunglasses...
STAPLES: ...Because it's a mirror, you know, and a hoodie. He had on a hoodie.
SAGAL: He's wearing a hoodie?
STAPLES: He's wearing a hoodie.
SAGAL: So he's wearing a hoodie and, like, mirrored sunglasses.
SAGAL: So he looks like the Unabomber, and he walks in.
STAPLES: I think he meant to scare me.
SAGAL: Yeah, OK.
STAPLES: You know?
SAGAL: So all right - so wait a minute. So in walks Dylan, and he says...
STAPLES: I said, hey. And after that line that he gave me about if you'd married me you could've seen me every day, I told him - I said, well, let's get married now.
SAGAL: Yeah. That's called calling a bluff.
STAPLES: Yeah, I really didn't want to hear the answer...
STAPLES: ...You know, if it was going to be OK.
STAPLES: You know, but he told me no. No. He turned me down.
SAGAL: Did he really?
STAPLES: He turned me down.
STAPLES: I said, OK, if that's the way you want it, Bob. Maybe you're thinking that we're too old. When you - I wouldn't marry you I was telling you we were too young.
STAPLES: And so it might be that the tables are turned. We're too old now.
SAGAL: Yeah.STAPLES: Bobby said no, it's not that. It's not that. I'm already married.