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Old 03-13-2011, 10:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Fury in the world of Folk

More than most musicians, folk artists are usually very polite about each other, presumably because human warmth is an important part of the folk style.

A year ago next month, Joni Mitchell broke that tacit rule with her comments about Bob Dylan. Here is one website`s report about what she said :

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times that ran April 22, Mitchell called Dylan a fake. Mitchell blasted Dylan with both barrels: “Bob is not authentic at all. He’s a plagiarist and his name and voice are fake,” she said, “Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I.”

Mitchell doesn't clarify the plagiarism accusation, but a number of outlets have connected the dots to a New York Times 2006 article that notes the similarities between Dylan's lyrics on "Modern Times" to those of confederate poet Henry Timrod.

In the L.A. Times piece, the only person getting away unscathed is Jimi Hendrix, whom Mitchell calls “the sweetest guy.” As far as the rest of us, Mitchell, doesn’t seem to have much use for us for the last 30 years. She says her later work “is set against the stupid, destructive way we live on this planet. Americans have decided to be stupid and shallow since 1980. Madonna is like Nero; she marks the turning point.” Ouch.


I`ve always admired Joni Mitchell, and it certainly took some courage to speak out against two such icons as Bob and Madonna. The trouble with courage is that it can lead equally to acts of heroism or folly.

So, a year down the road, what`s your verdict on Joni`s outburst - heroic or foolish ?
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:12 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I hadn't heard about this before, but it seems a bit OTT.
As far as plagarism, Dylan stole many a tune but so did his hero Woody Guthrie.
To me Dylans' greatest flaw is egoism & this applies most to his "hipster" period in the sixtees when he wrote all those clever but rather mean put down songs
At the time Dylan even dismissed his hero Woody Guthrie claiming to have gone far beyond woody.
I certainly wouldn't dismiss Dylan. He is among the great songwriters of the second half of the 20th century, even if he did steal a tune or two
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:38 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I would like a link to that interview. Dylan has always been a chameleon and a thief. It's a part of his charm and talent and Joni Mitchell knows that. If I'm forced to compare the two Dylan is better. At his best Dylan can even approach Coltrane, he's so wild and free and beautiful and obviously poetic. But Joni Mitchell's music is much more unique. So in that sense she is more revolutionary. And believe me I'll take her worst material over Dylan's average stuff anyday. It's just as Dylan keeps releasing this 'Bootleg' series, it seems the depth of his genius never ends.
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Old 03-14-2011, 08:09 AM   #4 (permalink)
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^^ Two very interesting, very balanced appraisals. Thanks. This is a link to a write-up at the time in the Guardian newspaper, which in turn has a link to the original interview in the L.A. Times.

Bob Dylan is 'a plagiarist', claims Joni Mitchell | Music | guardian.co.uk
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Old 03-14-2011, 09:58 AM   #5 (permalink)
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She's a right to an opinion as much as anyone. Looking forward to Dylan's response.
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Old 03-16-2011, 01:15 PM   #6 (permalink)
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So, Roberta Anderson is slamming Robert Zimmerman over changing his name.
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Old 03-17-2011, 04:41 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorby Bislam View Post
So, Roberta Anderson is slamming Robert Zimmerman over changing his name.
Yes, I did think this was a rather odd complaint of hers against him.

As regards Dylan responding, I would be very surprised if he did- at least in public. Dylan is one of the least likely to enter into a public slanging match with another artiste.
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Old 03-17-2011, 04:47 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Just read the article. Seems like Joni was in a ,miserable mood. Particuarly odd tho to attack Zimmerman for changing his name when she had done exactly the same thing!
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Old 03-17-2011, 10:25 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The thing about name-changing is exactly what sparked off Joni Mitchell`s comment, so perhaps I`ll quote that bit of the interview, which shows how JM sees her situation as different from BD`s :

Quote:
L.A.Times: The folk scene you came out of had fun creating personas. You were born Roberta Joan Anderson, and someone named Bobby Zimmerman became Bob Dylan.

JM: Bob is not authentic at all. He's a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I.
As for my name, my parents wanted a boy, so they called me Robert John; when I came out a girl, they just added two letter A's to that. Then I married Chuck Mitchell; I wanted to keep my maiden name — I had a bit of a following as Joni Anderson — but he wouldn't let me.
So Joni has pretty genuine reasons for changing her name and wasn`t really trying to build up a persona in the same way Dylan did.

Actually, it`s the plagarism criticism that I find more difficult to understand, given the way,(especially in folk music) almost every song that`s written borrows something from those who went before.
What I have heard, though, is that Dylan has always been quicker than others to change a few lyrics in a traditional song and then slap his own copyright on the material. Given the mega size of his own original songbook, it seems a strangly ungracious thing to do, but as OccultHawk very neatly puts it:
Quote:
Dylan has always been a chameleon and a thief. That`s part of his charm...
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Old 03-18-2011, 05:50 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I don't find that at all convincing.
I always thought Joni was a strong person. But her husband wouldn't let her use her own name so she didn't????? Come on!!
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