Bob Dylan is a provocateur, a habitual obfuscator, and a bit of a crank. That said, he’s also that rare and precious thing, a genuine artistic giant. His music will endure. And that makes his comments on plagiarism, reported just now, particularly noteworthy. Asked for his thoughts on critics who’ve noted that he often snatches bits of poetry and prose from other writers and works them into his lyrics without attribution, Dylan cut to the chase: “[Only] wussies and pussies complain about that stuff.”
I can just hear Dylan saying “wussies and pussies” in his trademark nasal rasp.
Dylan added that in folk music,”quotation is a rich and enriching tradition”,and that in taking inspiration — and even lyrics — from other writers, he was “working within [his] art form.” “It’s that simple,” Dylan added, “It’s called songwriting. It has to do with melody and rhythm, and then after that, anything goes. You make everything yours. We all do it.”
Yes, but not all of us do it this well.