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Dylanology in Question: 'Chronicles' Becomes Latest Topic of Debate via New Mexico DJ Scott Warmuth, Did Bob Steal from Twain, Virgil, Etc.?

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com on May 22, 2014 06:02 PM EDT

The Tambourine Man has been under scrutiny most of his career. Suspicions that he lifts from prominent and obscure texts isn't anything that doesn't come with the name, and he's never really denied it either.

But in Bob Dylan's Chronicles--in which he recounts some obscure times from his career, branching into vineyards from his work with Daniel Lanois in New Orleans for his lackluster Oh Mercy album to eye-widening moments of revelation at Woody Guthrie's house recovering unheard songs that were at his disposal (he even cites a young Arlo answering the door)--some are saying the obvious plagiarism has been brought to light thanks to the invention of such engines as Google Books.

Sleuths be damned, the crusade is led by New Mexico-based DJ Scott Warmuth who feels that the web of lies spun into Dylan's award-nominated text is more so an elaborate scheme, a sort Da Vinci Code.

"Some people argue that those searching for these borrowings are engaged in a sort of 'gotcha' game--finding these things and leaving it at that with no further analysis beyond, 'Well, Dylan's a thief,' Kinney told The Daily Beast. "But Scott [Warmuth] is trying to take it to the next step by digging into why Dylan uses the borrowed phrases that he does, and how he uses them. And that's the most interesting work to my mind. It really could keep people occupied for a hundred years."

In regards to these kinds of concoctions, Dylan re: his critics dismisses them by saying "Wussies and pussies complain about that stuff."

From Virgil to Mark Twain to Ernest Hemingway to a book about Monica Lewinsky, the allusions stack up and it seems to be all a part of some ploy to undercut him.

But borrowing, per Pete Seeger and most any folkie, is a part of the creative process and essential to finding a voice. "We Shall Overcome" and most other famous folk standards seem to be at the hands of the artist--not the creator.

And thus the debate seems to fall to the larger, general question of who Bob Dylan is. Though the unveiling of small seeds to his character aren't anything spectacular--he's a musician, man, let's just take it as that.

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TagsBob Dylan, Dylanologists, Scott Warmuth, Oh Mercy, Chronicles, Google Books

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