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Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan

08 Jan 08 - 04:46 AM (#2230940)
Subject: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Fidjit

I've been told and I'm sure it's' true, that even Bob nicked tunes.

Well I'd like to know which ones and what are the songs he put to them?

And any other greats too for that matter.

Now even I have made parody's of other peoples songs, but that's not what I'm after.

New songs old melodies


08 Jan 08 - 04:54 AM (#2230941)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: peregrina

Masters of war / tune is pretty much Nottamun town
but is it nicked? or folk process?

08 Jan 08 - 05:53 AM (#2230962)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: kendall

This is so common in trad music. Why spend a good tune on one song that dies out in time?
Now, nicking another person's song is another story. Paul Clayton's "Whose gonna buy you ribbons" became Dylan's, " Don't think twice".

08 Jan 08 - 05:54 AM (#2230963)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Bonnie Shaljean

"Fare Thee Well" (some of the words as well as the tune) is basically The Leaving of Liverpool, and the "she once was a true love of mine" line in (??) Girl of the North Country - or whatever the song is - comes from Scarborough Fair. There are others too, just can't think of any at the moment. The mad catters are bound to fill in all the gaps -

08 Jan 08 - 05:54 AM (#2230964)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: catspaw49

Here is a good place to start----Expecting Rain

That'll get you going. There are numerous other sites as well as right here at Mudcat where you can search by title and find discussion on the subject both in particular and general.


08 Jan 08 - 06:03 AM (#2230971)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: John MacKenzie

Well Fannario is just a version of the Bonnie Lass O' Fyvie Oh. However it is an old tradition as has been said by others. As there have been many other versions of this song over time.

08 Jan 08 - 06:12 AM (#2230975)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Newport Boy

I think the term stolen melodies should only be applied when a writer uses an old melody and claims it as their own. "Trad. arr Fred" or "Fred, from a traditional tune" is fine by me, and gives new life to good tunes.


08 Jan 08 - 06:14 AM (#2230978)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: MartinRyan

Not so much "stolen" as "borrowed" - the tunes continue to be recycled.


08 Jan 08 - 06:19 AM (#2230982)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: catspaw49

HERE is a previous Mudcat thread. There are others as well. In that one pay special note towards the end to a post by Mudcatter "Kytrad" which is in fact Jean Ritchie who had some up close and personal contact on this subject. Read the entire thread but Jean's post explains the situation regarding giving credit to trad or trad sources.


08 Jan 08 - 06:35 AM (#2230990)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Dave Hanson

Like Paul Simon, Bob stopped with Martin Carthy in London, a great source of tunes for him, not least ' Bob Dylans Dream ' originally ' Lord Franklin '


08 Jan 08 - 07:03 AM (#2231002)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: catspaw49

As we sometimes lose links over the years, the following is from the "Expecting Rain" website linked above:

Traditional music will not die just so long as there are people to keep it alive. And to be truly alive, the traditions have to grow. Bob Dylan is one of those musicians who absorbed the old traditions, kept them alive, and extended them. What follows is an admittedly incomplete list of songs written by Dylan for which he took inspiration from other songs, traditional or otherwise. The amount of "inspiration" varies from song to song - it might be a tune, barely altered, or just a fragment from a tune; it might be a verse or a couplet, or just a distinctive turn of phrase. The borrowing might have been unknowing, a conscious tribute, or occasionally plain, outright theft. There is no (well, not much) intent to cast judgment on these matters here. In art, if not in law, the ends can often be said to justify the means.
The following survey of songs presents: the original song that formed the basis for a particular Dylan composition, with the writer of the song in parentheses; then the Dylan song in question, with the date of composition (as near as can be ascertained) in parentheses after the title.

1 Original song: 1913 Massacre (Woody Guthrie)
Dylan song: Song to Woody (February 1961)
Dylan arrived in New York City on January 24, 1961, at the age of 19. His first major composition was written on February 14, barely three weeks later. "I just thought about Woody," he commented a few years ago, looking back on the writing of this song. "I wondered about him, thought harder and wondered harder. I wrote this song in about five minutes." The tune of "Song to Woody" is identical to Woody Guthrie's "1913 Massacre" - but this appropriation is clearly intended as a tribute to his hero.

Woody Guthrie (Note 2) is reported to have said to Dylan (who visited the older singer often in hospital): "The words are the important thing. Don't worry about tunes. Take a tune - sing high when they sing low, sing fast when they sing slow, and you've got a new tune." As for the lyrics themselves, there is one couplet which has been adapted from Guthrie's "Pastures of Plenty":

Every state in this union, us migrants has been We come with the dust and we go with the wind.
Pastures of Plenty

Here's to the hearts and the hands of the men That come with the dust and are gone with the wind.
Song to Woody

It is worth noting that Dylan casts the second line in the past: unlike most of the folk community at this time, he realized that the world was now drastically different from the dustbowl and depression years that Guthrie had known, and it was going to need drastically different songs to change it. If this was one of the few direct borrowings from Guthrie's work, then the general debt Dylan owed him was immense. He said himself that he was a "walking Woody Guthrie jukebox" as this time, and he has performed a sizable number of Guthrie songs over the years:

"Car Car," "Come See," "Dear Mrs. Roosevelt," "Deportees (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)," "Don't You Push Me Down," "Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad," "Grand Coulee Dam," "The Great Divide," "The Great Historical Bum," "Hangknot, Slipknot," "Hard Traveling," "Howdido," "I Ain't Got No Home," "I Want It Now," "Jesus Christ," "1913 Massacre," "Pastures of Plenty," "Pretty Boy Floyd," "Ramblin' Through the World," "Ramblin' Round," "Ranger's Command," "Sally Girl," "Talkin; Columbia," "Talkin' Fish Blues," "Talkin' Merchant Marine," "This Land Is Your Land," "VD Blues," "VD City," "VD Gunner's Blues" and "VD Waltz," as well as a great many more traditional songs such as "Buffalo Skinners" that were in Guthrie's repertoire and are occasionally credited to him.

2 Original song: Penny's Farm (The Bently Boys)
Dylan song: Hard Times in New York (November 1961)
The words and music of this song are based on "Down on Penny's Farm" (a regionalized reworking of a still older traditional song, "Hard Times") by The Bently Boys, and originally recorded in 1929. It was included in Harry Smith's seminal Anthology of American Folk Music (Folkways, 1952) and has been recorded by (among others) Happy and Artie Traum on their fine album Hard Times in the Country.

3 Original song: Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance (Henry Thomas)
Dylan song: Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance (April 1962)
"Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance" is a rewrite of a song by late-19th century singer Henry Thomas. On The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, the song is credited jointly to Thomas and Dylan. In fact, almost all the words to Dylan's version are different (and probably written by Dylan) except for the title, and the tune has also undergone some modifications. The introductory verse to Thomas' version is a clear indication that this is a "composed" as opposed to a "folk" song. Thomas was born in 1874 or 75 (he died in 1930) and although he was not among the first blues singers to record, he is probably the oldest "professional" blues singer to have been captured on disc. Like many such singers, he was actually a songster (Note 3), blues being just one of many styles that he performed.

4 Original song: Corrina Corrine (trad)
Dylan song: Corrina Corrina (April 1962)
"Corrina Corrine" (also known as "Corrina Corrina") is a black American folksong that was often played by Mississippi John Hurt, Mance Lipscomb, Sleepy John Estes and others. However, Dylan's version is more than just an "arrangement," the melody and whole mood of the song being totally different - from a happy-go-lucky jug band song, it becomes a wistful evocation of the memory of a woman. The verse beginning: "I have a bird to whistle" is actually adapted from Robert Johnson's "Stones in My Passway."

5 Original song: No More Auction Blues (trad)
Dylan song: Blowin' in the Wind (April 1962)
The tune of "Blowin' in the Wind" was (according to Dylan) based loosely on the traditional "No More Auction Blues," found on The Bootleg Series 1-3 (Note 4). The guitar part is certainly very similar, though I had listened to both songs many times without noticing the resemblance. The song, also known as "Many Thousands Gone," originated in Canada, where many blacks fled after Britain abolished slavery there in 1833, 30 years ahead of the United States. Dylan probably learned this one from Odetta, who sang it on her live Carnegie Hall album which was recorded on April 8, 1960. Paul Robson also recorded it in 1958.

6 Original song: O Western Wind (trad)
Dylan song: Tomorrow is a Long Time (August 1962)
There is a definite connection between the chorus of Dylan's "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" and "Westron Winde" (Western Wind,) dated c1530.

Westron winde, when will thou blow The smalle raine downe can raine Christ, if my love were in my armes And I in my bed againe
Westron Winde

Yes, and only if my own true love was waitin', Yes, and if I could hear her heart a-softly poundin', Only if she was lyin' by me, Then I'd lie in my bed once again.
Tomorrow Is a Long Time

According to Timothy J. Lundgren, "This is one of the most famous early English lyrics. It is usually dated as "early 16th century" although these things are notoriously difficult to date with much confidence. This poem is widely anthologized, and it is not too surprising that Dylan ran across it."

7 Original song: Lord Randal (trad)
Dylan song: A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (September 1962)
The lyrical structure of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" was based on "Lord Randal" (Child ballad No. 12) (Note 5) which he learnt from Martin Carthy. (For more on Carthy, see below.)

"Oh, where ha' you been, Lord Randal my son? And where ha' you been, my handsome young man?" "I ha' been at the greenwood, mother, make my bed soon For I'm wearied wi' hunting, and fain was lie down."
Lord Randal

Oh, where have you been,my blue-eyed son? And where have you been, my darling young one?
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

There are many versions of this song (15 alone collected in Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads), but all follow the same basic question/answer structure. The surrealistic flood of images that makes up the "blue-eyed" son's reply to the inquiry has no connection to "Lord Randal." In fact, is probably owes more to Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" than to anything that might be found in song.(Note 6)

8 Original song: Scarlet Ribbons For Her Hair (trad),
Who'll Buy You Ribbons When I'm Gone (Paul Clayton)
Dylan song: Don't Think Twice, It's Alright (October 1962)
Paul Clayton based his own composition on the traditional song "Scarlet Ribbons For Her Hair," and Dylan's song could have been based on either or both. Clayton obviously felt that his song was where Dylan had got it, and had his lawyers make inquiries. According to Robert Shelton, "Clayton and Dylan had an amicable legal tiff, settling without rancor out of court." (No Direction Home by Robert Shelton, page 156).

Johnny Cash's "Understand Your Man" is sometimes cited as an influence on "Don't Think Twice," but actually that song was also based on "Scarlet Ribbons For Her Hair," hence the similarities.

It ain't no use to sit and sigh now, darlin, And it ain't no use to sit and cry now, T'ain't no use to sit and wonder why, darlin, Just wonder who's gonna buy you ribbons when I'm gone.
Who's Goin' Buy You Ribbons When I'm Gone?

It ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe It don't matter, anyhow An' it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe If you don't know by now
Don't Think Twice, It's Alright

So I'm walkin' down that long, lonesome road, You're the one that made me travel on, But still-I-can't-help wonderin' on my way, Who's gonna buy you ribbons when I'm gone?
Who's Goin' Buy You Ribbons When I'm Gone?

I'm walkin' down that long, lonesome road, babe Where I'm bound, I can't tell But good-bye's too good a word, gal So I'll just say fare thee well
Don't Think Twice, It's Alright

While Dylan's debt is clear here, the actual achievement of "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" far outstrips its precursors. This is one of the finest examples of the kind of song in which the narrator is lying to himself and unknowingly telling far more of his emotional struggles than he himself is aware of. Other notable examples of this type of song would include Hoagy Carmichael's "I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes)," Loudon Waiwright III's "I'm Alright," Dylan's own "Most of the Time," and almost the entire output of Randy Newman.(Note 7)

9 Original song: Scarborough Fair (trad. arr. Martin Carthy)
Dylan song: Girl From the North Country (January 1963)
Dylan mentioned Martin Carthy in the sleeve notes to The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, and also said in 1984: "Martin Carthy's incredible. I learned a lot of stuff from Martin. 'Girl From the North Country' is based on a song I learned from him."

The song that "Girl From the North Country" was based on is "Scarborough Fair," and Carthy's arrangement is found on his eponymous debut album. Martin Carthy has expressed bitterness about Paul Simon's lifting the song since Simon failed to acknowledge or credit Carthy for the arrangement, but none towards Dylan for his more "creative" adaptation.

I had the opportunity to talk to Martin Carthy (who visited Tokyo in 1995), and he spoke at length about Paul Simon's appropriation - Simon had even gone so far as to release "Scarborough Fair" with words and music credited to himself at one point.

Concerning the similarity between "Scarborough Fair" and Dylan's "Girl From the North Country," Carthy stated: "That was completely different, completely legitimate. Bob never hid anything. And he made his own song from it. That's what folk music is all about. He'd always be asking me, 'Martin, play 'Scarborough Fair,' play 'Scarborough Fair.' He was in England to appear in a TV play, Madhouse On Castle Street, for the BBC, and he was over for a few months, I think. He went over to Portugal or somewhere for a few days, and when he came back he said he had a new song. He played me this thing, and when he got to 'She was once a true friend of mine,' he burst into laughter and said something like 'Oh I can't do that one in front of you!' and then he started playing something else."

10 Original song: Nottamun Town (trad)
Dylan song: Masters of War (January 1963)
The tune of "Masters of War" is based on the traditional "Nottamun Town," believed to be an old magic song from an English mummers' play. The great Scottish folk singer Jean Ritchie affixed the copyright of her Geordie Music Publishing Company on "Nottamun" in 1964. Geordie made claims against Dylan for use of the melody but he successfully maintained that his variant and his totally original words made a new song.

11 Original song: The Leaving of Liverpool (trad)
Dylan song: Farewell (January 1963)
Dylan's song is so similar in tune and many of the words that it should be considered more as an adaptation than an original song. A number of performances by Dylan of this song exist, but it has never been officially released.

I'm bound off for California By the way of stormy Cape Horn And I'm bound to write you a letter, love When I am homeward bound So fare thee well, my own true love When I return united we will be It's not the leaving of Liverpool that's grieving me But my darling when I think of thee
The Leaving of Liverpool

Oh it's fare thee well my darlin' true, I'm leavin' in the first hour of the morn. I'm bound off for the bay of Mexico Or maybe the coast of Californ. So it's fare thee well my own true love, We'll meet another day, another time. It ain't the leavin' that's a-grievin' me But my true love who's bound to stay behind.

12 Original song: Lord Franklin (trad)
Dylan song: Bob Dylan's Dream (February 1963)
The tune and words of "Bob Dylan's Dream" come from "Lord Franklin," another song which he learnt from Carthy during his first visit to England. Dylan had been brought over from the U.S. by the B.B.C. to sing a few songs and have a bit part in Madhouse On Castle Street, a TV play that unfortunately was not preserved, BBC having a bad habit of wiping historically invaluable tape. (They also wiped the two 1965 performances that Albert Grossman can be seen negotiating in the documentary Don't Look Back.) Dylan sang his own "Blowin' in the Wind," as well as the traditional songs "Ballad of the Gliding Swan," "Hang Me, Oh Hang Me," "Cuckoo Bird" and an untitled instrumental. Only the first two of these are known to exist on audio tape.

12 Original song: The Patriot Game (words: Dominic Behan, music: trad)
Dylan song: With God on Our Side (April 1963)
Talking about the genesis of this song on a radio broadcast some years ago, Liam Clancy (of The Clancy Brothers) said:

"'The Patriot Game' was written by Dominic Behan, but it was originally a song from the Appalachian Mountains ('The Merry Month Of May'). Then it became a popular song, slightly adapted by a popular singer of the day named Joe Stafford who called it the - What was it called? 'The Bold Grenadier,' or something.

And it was from that popular recording that Dominic Behan took the tune and he made it into 'The Patriot Game.' And of course we used to sing this with great passion at the folk clubs in the (Greenwich) Village. And among the patrons was a young singer/songwriter who came into town named Bob Dylan. And he transformed it, of course, into 'With God on Our Side.'" Actually Dominic Behan chided Dylan publicly for lifting Behan's melody until he was reminded that he himself had "borrowed" the tune. As for the phrase "God on our side," it might have come from Robert Southey ("The laws are with us and God's on our side") or from George Bernard Shaw's play Saint Joan.

13 Original song: Who Killed Cock Robin (trad)
Dylan song: Who Killed Davey Moore (April 1963)
"Who Killed Cock Robin" is a haunting children's song that can be found in many versions stretching back to antiquity. Dylan directly adapted the structure for this song on the death of Davey Moore, a boxer who was knocked out by Sugar Ramos on March 23, 1963 and died two days later without having regained consciousness. Dylan's first performance of this song was on April 12, just 18 days later.

14 Original song: The Wind and the Rain (trad)
Dylan song: Percy's Song (August 1963)
According to Dylan, the beautiful melody line of this song came from Paul Clayton. "Paul was just an incredible songwriter and singer," said Dylan in 1985. "He must have known a thousand songs. I learned 'Pay Day at Coal Creek' and a bunch of other songs from him. We played on the same circuit and I traveled with him part of the time. When you're listening to songs night after night, some of them rub off on you. 'Don't Think Twice' was a riff that Paul had. [See above.] And so was 'Percy's Song.'

Something I might have written might have been a take off on 'Hiram Hubbard,' a civil war song he used to sing, but I don't know. A song like that would come to me because people were talking about the incident. A lot of folk songs are written from a character's point of view. 'House of the Rising Sun' is actually from a woman's point of view. A lot of Irish ballads would be the same thing. A song like Percy's Song, you'd just assume another character's point of view. I did a few like that."

As for the words, Dylan has clearly borrowed the structure from "The Wind and the Rain" (also known as "Two Sisters"), though the stories in the two songs are unrelated. The first verses of the two songs share a similar refrain:

Two loving sisters was a-walking side by side, Oh the wind and rain. One pushed the other off in the waters, waters deep. And she cried, "The dreadful wind and rain."
The Wind and the Rain

Bad news, bad news come to me where I sleep, Turn, turn, turn again. Sayin' one of your friends is in trouble deep, Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.
Percy's Song while the final verses are even more closely related:

The only tune that my fiddle would play, Was, "Oh, the wind and the rain." The only tune that my fiddle would play, was Was, "The dreadful wind and rain."
The Wind and the Rain

And I played my guitar through the night to the day, Turn, turn, turn again. And the only tune my guitar could play Was, "Oh the cruel rain and the wind."
Percy's Song

15 Original song: Anathea (words: Neil Roth, music: Lydia Wood)
Dylan song: Seven Curses (August 1963)
The song "Anathea" tells a similar story to "Seven Curses." To quote the late John Bauldie: "The song's story is as old as the hills - the tale used by Shakespeare for Measure for Measure is an obvious variant - and it's been told in folk song many times down the years, under such titles as 'The Prickley Bush,' 'The Briery Bush,' and 'The Prickle Holly Bush.' Perhaps the earliest version is the Child Ballad number 95, 'The Maid Freed From the Gallows,' but it seems likely that Dylan's direct source was a song called "Anathea," often performed by Judy Collins, whom Dylan knew well at this time." (From Bauldie's notes for The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3)

When asked about this, Judy Collins agreed: "Absolutely, the seven curses are related to Anathea. There are old themes, world themes, centuries' old dramas that get worked out in the creative process by artist after artist. I see what Dylan has always done is to connect with this inner, subterranean river of the subconscious."

16 Original song: The Parting Glass (trad)
Dylan song: Restless Farewell (October 1963)
The tune and lyrics to "Restless Farewell" were both based on "The Parting Glass," a traditional Irish song that he probably learnt from The Clancy Brothers.

O, all the money e'er I had I spent it in good company And all the harm I've ever done Alas! it was to none but me.
The Parting Glass

Oh all the money that in my whole life I did spend, Be it mine right or wrongfully, I let it slip gladly past the hands of my friends To tie up the time most forcefully.
Restless Farewell

Dylan reportedly wrote this song hastily in the studio as a suitable closer to his 1964 album, The Times They Are A-Changin' album and did not perform it again until 1995 when Frank Sinatra requested it as the closing song in his 80th Birthday Concert. Although some of the lines are clumsy (particularly when compared to the graceful original), it still made for a far more touching declaration of independence than "My Way."

17 Original song: Jack O'Diamonds (Mance Lipscomb)
Dylan song: Jack O'Diamonds (1964)
"Jack O'Diamonds" was one of the "some other kind of songs" poems printed on the sleeve of Another Side of Bob Dylan and set to music by Fairport Convention, though Fairport's music has little connection with the original Mance Lipscomb version.

Mance Lipscomb wrote "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down" (also known as "Baby, Let Me Lay It on You") which Dylan sang on his debut album. Lipscomb claims to have taught the song to Dylan while Dylan states (in a spoken introduction on the album) that he learnt it from Rick von Schmidt.

For more information on Mance Lipscomb, go to his marvellous autobiography (published by Norton) I Say Me For A Parable, or to any of his recordings released on CD by Arhoolie.

18 Original song: Too Much Monkey Business (Chuck Berry)
Dylan song: Subterranean Homesick Blues (January 1965)
By 1965, Dylan had absorbed an enormous amount of traditional and quasi-traditional material, but it is from this time that we see him start to incorporate the influence of more contemporary works. Chuck Berry has, with good reason, been called the first poet of rock and roll, and his "Too Much Monkey Business" (1957) is a perfect example of his mastery of colloquial American English. Dylan takes Berry's rapid-fire approach to the language and ups the stakes:

Workin' in the fillin' station Too many tasks Wipe the windows Check the tires Check the oil Dollar gas!
Too Much Monkey Business

Ah get born, keep warm, Short pants, romance. Learn to dance, get dressed, get blessed Try to be a success. Please her, please him, buy gifts Don't steal, don't lift - Twenty years of schoolin' And they put you on the day shift
Subterranean Homesick Blues

19 Original song: Nine Below Zero (Sonny Boy Williamson)
Dylan song: Outlaw Blues (January 1965)
The only direct connection here is the phrase "nine below zero," but Dylan almost certainly got this from Williamson. Why? Listen to what else he got from him. Although the tune to "Pledging My Time" is related (as noted below) to Robert Johnson's "Come On In My Kitchen," the feel of it (and of many of Dylan's electric blues songs) definitely comes from "Nine Below Zero," and other songs recorded by Williamson from the early 1950s to 1963.

20 Original song: Baby Blue (Gene Vincent)
Dylan song: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (January 1965)
"I had carried that song around in my head for a long time," said Dylan, "and I remember that when I was writing it, I'd remembered a Gene Vincent song. It had always been one of my favorites, Baby Blue...`when first I met my baby, she said how do you do, she looked into my eyes and said... my name is Baby Blue.' It was one of the songs I used to sing back in High School. Of course, I was singing about a different Baby Blue." Apart from the inspiration that the song might have given to Dylan, there is no relationship between the songs beyond the name, Baby Blue.

21 Original songs: La Bamba (trad. arr. Richie Valens), Rolling Stone (Muddy Waters), Lost Highway (Leon Payne)
Dylan song: Like a Rolling Stone (June 1965)
Dylan can be seen singing Hank Williams' "Lost Highway" - which begins "I'm a rolling stone" - in the documentary Don't Look Back on May 3rd or 4th, only weeks before writing "Like a Rolling Stone." (Although "Lost Highway" is always associated with Hank Williams, it was actually written by Leon Payne.)

Dylan says he based "Like a Rolling Stone" on "La Bamba" and you can feel it in the chorus, though the Richie Valens influence could not really be called profound! (Of course, "La Bamba" is a lot older than Valens, who had a hit with a rocking arrangement of the tune in 1958. It is a traditional Mexican dance tune that has been around for centuries.)

Muddy Waters' "Rolling Stone" may or may not have been an influence on "Like a Rolling Stone," but when you listen to "Rolling Stone," "Lost Highway" and "La Bamba" back to back to back, you really can hear "Like a Rolling Stone" emerging. In 1991, the first take of "Like a Rolling Stone" was issued on the Bootleg Series, Vol. 1-3, and is was rather a surprise to hear that it was originally in waltz time and bore absolutely no resemblance to "La Bamba," so any influence from the song must have either appeared in the studio or in hindsight.

22 Original song: Milk Cow Blues (Sleepy John Estes)
Dylan song: From A Buick 6 (June 1965)
"From A Buick 6" takes its tune and rhythmic feel from "Milk Cow Blues," recorded by Sleepy John Estes in 1930. The first verse contains the phrase "keep it hid," which also appears in the Dylan song. Estes recorded an impressive version of "Broken-Hearted, Ragged and Dirty Too"- which Dylan recorded as "Ragged and Dirty" on World Gone Wrong - back in 1929.

23 Original song: Poor Me (Charlie Patton), Milkcow Blues (Kokomo Arnold)
Dylan song: It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (July 1965)
Interestingly, another Highway 61 Revisited song could have been influenced by another bovine blues - "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry," from one of Kokomo Arnold's many versions of "Milkcow Blues," though the couplet in question first appeared on Charlie Patton's "Poor Me" in 1934: "Don't the moon look pretty shinin' down through the tree."

Dylan is undoubtedly familiar with both singers. In 1985, an interviewer asked Dylan if his comparatively modern-sounding Empire Burlesque was an attempt to keep up with the times, and he answered: "What do I know about keeping up with the times? I still listen to Charlie Patton."

24 Original song: I Believe to My Soul (Ray Charles)
Dylan song: Ballad of a Thin Man (July 1965)
"I Believe to My Soul" by Ray Charles contributed only the piano phrase between verses to "Ballad of a Thin Man," the two songs themselves being completely different. However, the phrase is distinctive enough to be a definite link between the two songs.

25 Original song: Norwegian Wood (Lennon/McCartney)
Dylan song: 4th Time Around (February 1966)
The first obviously Dylan-influenced song that John Lennon (Note 8) wrote was "I'm a Loser" in the summer of 1964. With the following year's "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" and "Ticket to Ride," the influence was even more apparent, and by the end of the year, Lennon was composing the Dylan-drenched wordplay of "Norwegian Wood" - and being teased about it by the other Beatles, if Alan Price of The Animals can be believed.

Just two months after the song's release, Dylan wrote "4th Time Around," setting Lennon's distinctive melody to a convoluted love story that was even more impenetrable than the original. Lennon is supposed to have been more than a little "paranoid" about the song's intentions. Was it a playful compliment or an ironic insult? With Dylan's closing couplet - "I never asked for your crutch, now don't ask for mine" - it could be taken either way.

26 Original song: Automobile Blues (Lightnin' Hopkins)
Dylan song: Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (February 1966)

I saw you riding 'round in your brand new automobile Yes I saw you ridin' around, babe, in your brand new automobile You was sitting there happy With your handsome driver at the wheel In your brand new automobile
Automobile Blues

Well, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat Yes, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat Well, you must tell me, baby How your head feels under somethin' like that Under your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat

The connection between the two songs is clear and probably intended. The sly humour that Dylan employs is a distinctive feature of many of Hopkins' songs.

27 Original song: Come on in My Kitchen (Robert Johnson)
Dylan song: Pledging My Time (March 1966)
Blues melodies tend to be so formulaic that it's often difficult to say that one particular song came from another. However, "Pledging My Time" is very similar to "Come On In My Kitchen." Dylan is known to be a big Robert Johnson fan (Note 9), and the two songs also share one striking similarity in their lyrics, both lines being sung to the same melodic phrase:

Some joker got lucky, stole her back again.
Come On in My Kitchen

Somebody got lucky, but it was an accident.
Pledging My Time

28 Original song: James Alley Blues (Richard "Rabbit" Brown)
Dylan song: Down in the Flood (between April and October 1967)

I been giving sugar for sugar, let you get salt for salt And if you can't get along with me, well, it's your own fault
James Alley Blues Well,

it's sugar for sugar, and salt for salt, If you go down in the flood, it's gonna be your own fault.
Down in the Flood

Just the "sugar for sugar, salt for salt" fragment, but it's distinctive enough to be a match. This was recorded by Richard "Rabbit" Brown in the late 1920s. Brown was born in New Orleans in 1880 and died there in 1937. In his early years, he used to sing on the streets of Storyville (Note 10), and he frequently worked as a singing boatman on Lake Pontchartrain. There don't seem to be any CDs solely devoted to Brown (he might not have recorded enough to fill one), but he can be found (usually represented by this song) on various anthologies.

As for "James Alley Blues," there are a number of other lines that seem to have interested Dylan: "Sometimes I think that you're too sweet to die / Then other times I think you oughta be buried alive" by Brown has a close relative in Dylan's "Black Crow Blues," and "I done seen better days, but I'm puttin' up with these" (Brown) could be the origin of "I see better days and I do better things" from Dylan's "I Shall Be Free."

29 Original song: Tramps and Hawkers (trad)
Dylan song: I Pity the Poor Immigrant (November 1967)
Dylan adapted the tune of "I Pity the Poor Immigrant" from a traditional Scottish ballad entitled "Tramps and Hawkers." The Scottish song has been recorded by Hamish Imlach and by the Dubliners. There is no lyrical connection between the two songs.

30 Original song: Pony Blues (Charlie Patton)
Dylan song: New Pony (April 1978)
Both Charlie Patton (1892-36) and Son House (1902-89) were famous for "Pony Blues," and both of them were also blues singers who were convinced that blues was the "Devil's music." At certain times during their lives, they both gave up blues singing to become lay preachers - though they also both backslid and returned to the blues (among other unpreacherly activities). In his later performances, Son House was always careful to include at least one gospel number amid the blues songs to "sanctify" proceedings.

"New Pony" explores this ambiguous relationship, contrasting the deep blues of the song with the gospel chant of "How much longer?" Dylan's song is based on House's version, not Patton's. (Note 11)

However, the House version sprung from Patton's, which is certainly one of the finest country blues performances ever recorded. Dylan himself was "born again" in November of this year, and the tension between the attractions of the flesh and the spirit is made tangibly real.(Note 12)

You know, the horse that I'm riding, he can fox-trot, lope and pace Hmm, he can fox-trot and lope and pace Y'know, a horse with that many gaits, y'know, booked to win that race.
Pony Blues

I got a new pony, she knows how to fox-trot, lope and pace Well, I got a new pony, she knows how to fox-trot, lope and pace She got great big hind legs and long black shaggy hair hanging in her face
New Pony

31 Original song: Little Black Train (Woody Guthrie) Dylan song: Gotta Serve Somebody (April 1979)
After Dylan's first major work, "Song to Woody," there has been remarkably little direct influence from Guthrie's songs on Dylan's own compositions. Apart from "Danville Girl," which provided the title and not much else for "New Danville Girl," (Note 13) "Little Black Train" may be the only one to show a clear connection.

You may be a bar-room gambler And cheat your way through life But you can't cheat that little black train Or beat this final ride Get ready for your savior And fix your business right You've gotta ride that little black train To make your final ride
Little Black Train

You may be an ambassador to England or France, You may like to gamble, you might like to dance, You may be the heavyweight champion of the world, You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed You're gonna have to serve somebody, Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you're gonna have to serve somebody.
Gotta Serve Somebody

The train imagery of Guthrie's song does not appear in Dylan's, but the album on which "Gotta Serve Somebody" appears is called Slow Train Coming, and the train serves the same metaphorical purpose as in Guthrie's song.

32 Original song: St. James Infirmary (trad), and Dying Crapshooter (trad)
Dylan song: Blind Willie McTell (April 1983)
"Dying Crapshooter Blues" and "St. James Infirmary" are related songs, and both important influences on Dylan's masterpiece, "Blind Willie McTell." (Note 14) Dylan sings:"I'm staring out the window / Of the old St. James Hotel" and there really is a St. James Hotel - by all accounts a marvellous old building in Minnesota that looks out on Highway 61. The suggestion (by allusion to the song) that the hotel is an infirmary adds another layer to an already many-layered song.

Armstrong recorded "St. James Infirmary" a number of times, first and most notably with Earl Hines on piano in 1928. Armstrong's 1928 recordings are among the greatest in all recorded music, and are strongly recommended to anyone of whatever musical persuasion. Blind Willie McTell's "Dying Crapshooter Blues" was taped by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress in 1940 ("Delia" - one of two McTell-related songs Dylan featured on his 1993 collection of traditional songs, World Gone Wrong - was also recorded at this session) and has been released on LP and CD.

33 Original song: The Unfortunate Rake (trad)
Dylan song: Where Teardrops Fall (March 1989)
The line, "We banged the drum slowly and played the fife lowly -" from "Where Teardrops Fall" is a floating" line found in similar form most notably in numerous variants of the "The Unfortunate Rake" song family.

An album entitled The Unfortunate Rake: A Study in the Evolution of a Ballad traces the history of this song. Incidentally, "St. James Infirmary" and "Dying Crapshooter's Blues" (see above) are family members. The words refer, of course, to death - and often specifically to funerals.

"Streets of Laredo" (also known as "The Cowboy's Lament") is perhaps the best known of this family. In the song, a dying cowboy tells his comrades:

"O, beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly, Play the dead march as they carry me along, Put bunches of roses all over my coffin, Roses to deaden the clods as they fall..."
Streets of Laredo

08 Jan 08 - 07:15 AM (#2231011)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: greg stephens

Verey interesting article, putting all that lot together.Pity some other song writers haven't taken the trouble to study folksongs the way Bob Dylan has.

08 Jan 08 - 07:33 AM (#2231021)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Fidjit

Thanks folks. Nice to see you all jump on this one.
Catspaw that was Eleven and a half pages long!

I agree also that it should have been, "borrowed tunes".
I liked the re-cycling idea too. Well it's what we do isn't it?
Good to see you're still around Greg.


08 Jan 08 - 07:38 AM (#2231026)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: C. Ham

Mr. Dylan obviously learned about recycling melodies of older songs from the likes of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Robert Johnson, Brownie McGhee, A.P. Carter and so many more who did it long before him.

08 Jan 08 - 07:38 AM (#2231028)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Barbara Shaw

Interesting article by Eric von Schmidt in the current Winter 2008 edition of Sing Out! magazine about Dylan's "Baby Let Me Follow You Down." Dylan learned it from 2 different sources, took ownership of the copyright, then later disavowed ownership and royalties, according to the article.

08 Jan 08 - 10:34 AM (#2231135)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Dave Hanson

You can't steal traditional folk songs and melodies, they already belong to everybody.


08 Jan 08 - 10:58 AM (#2231156)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Art Thieme

It is all grist for the mill.


08 Jan 08 - 01:40 PM (#2231281)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Ian Burdon

Dave Van Ronk stated that Chimes of Freedom was based on a song called Chimes Of Trinity which Von Ronk's grandmother sang.

Not that it matters much: standing the issue of appropriate attribution, it is what Dylan did with the raw material is the interesting bit. Much as it is interesting that Hard Rain is inspired by Lord Randall, it doesn't stop Hard Rain being a masterpiece


08 Jan 08 - 01:52 PM (#2231292)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: M.Ted

If anything, comparing Dylan's raw materials and his end results underscores his genius--

08 Jan 08 - 02:06 PM (#2231312)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Declan

He's still doing it.

"Beyond the Horizon" on Modern Times uses the tune of "Red Sails in the Sunset" by Dublin songwrtiter Jimmy Kennedy.

I have no problem with Dylan recycling melodies, but why claim words and music by Bob Dylan when he clearly didn't compose a lot of them?

08 Jan 08 - 02:31 PM (#2231328)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: C. Ham

I have no problem with Dylan recycling melodies, but why claim words and music by Bob Dylan when he clearly didn't compose a lot of them?

And you can ask the same question of Woody Guthrie, A.P. Carter, Robert Johnson, Bill Monroe, Tom Paxton, Richard Farina, Pete Seeger, Mississippi John Hurt, Pete Seeger and so many others.

Pete Seeger actually suggests writing songs to older melodies. He calls it part of the "folk process."

08 Jan 08 - 02:40 PM (#2231340)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Jim Lad

No problem with borrowing tunes. That's what they are there for.
No forgiveness for taking the words. That's just stealing.
No time for thieves.

08 Jan 08 - 04:52 PM (#2231468)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Newport Boy

True, Jim Lad. "Borrowing" is OK, "taking" is not.

But that applies to melody or lyrics, which I don't think is what you meant. If you use someone else's work and claim it as yours, that's theft.

I tend to the view that you can't copyright a phrase - words or music. Extracting and recombining (in modern parlance - sampling) is part of the development of new works, and has been going on for centuries in both folk and classical music, and also in other "art" writing.


08 Jan 08 - 06:49 PM (#2231563)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: john f weldon

And Didn't He ramble
He rambled all around...
In and out the town
Didn't he ramble!
He rambled till those butchers cut him down!

That was a Ram, until it got to be a person, and thence a really good song.

08 Jan 08 - 07:07 PM (#2231579)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Jim Lad

    I make an exception for music because there are only a limited number of useful, melodic permutations of notes, beats to the bar and so on, with which to construct a tune.
There may have been a few new tunes over the last century but not as many as we may think.
That being said, if Joe Blow writes a new tune, it's not up for grabs.
Words however, are the thoughts and ideas of someone else. Can't touch that but of course we are clearly in agreement with the latter.

08 Jan 08 - 07:21 PM (#2231584)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Frug

Aw shit guys where was this thread when my no.1 son was doing his dissertation for his music course. His commentary was a comparison of the traditional influences on Guthrie and Dylan, and the pipeline that allows/facilitates the perpetuation of tunes/stories/myths etc. Not to mention plagiarism, theft etc...................My son got a distinction for his work !!......................not bad at MY age was it !!!!!


08 Jan 08 - 08:16 PM (#2231612)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: catspaw49

Actually Frank it WAS here! See that thread I linked above? It goes to a 2000 thread about Dylan's use of trad (Its also at the top of this thread in the link list) and has all the same stuff as this one. Equally though, it includes many additional opinions including some great posts by a few who only post rarely or not at all for various reasons. There are also a few names that are the same as this thread. Go and read the posts by Sandy Paton, a well respected and knowledgeable    source if there ever was one. His take on Dylan's usagecomes from a different angle to some degree and are worth the effort to go back and read the whole thread. As I mentioned before, Jean Ritchie's postings explain what actually happened regarding Nottamun Town.

Also------"I make an exception for music because there are only a limited number of useful, melodic permutations of notes, beats to the bar and so on, with which to construct a tune"

I kinda' assume that was a joke. But if not, spend an afternoon with Charlie Parker or Dave Brubeck and see if you still agree with it.


09 Jan 08 - 03:20 AM (#2231795)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Jim Lad

That most certainly was not a joke.
Have absolutely no idea who Charlie Parker or Dave Brubeck are and don't really care. Never met them. Couldn't name one song that they sing. Wouldn't know them on the street.
Not the kind to be impressed by personalities anyway.
(Or extremely lengthy cut and paste jobs, for that matter)
Now, unless you have something civil to say......

09 Jan 08 - 05:23 AM (#2231850)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Fidjit

About changing the words. It was going on long before Dyla or Pete and the Carter Family.

There's some very good reading in this years, "Folk Music Journal" by the EFDSS.

Namely Before the Folk Song Society by,E. David Gregory - about Lucy Broadwood

"Devon by Dog Cart and Bicycle" by, Martin Greabe. About Sabine Baring-Gould.

Both of witch changed thins. even re-harmonising the melody's. Let alone the text.
It's well known the C. Sharp cleaned up things for his School books
They even rejected some drinking songs from their publications for their own reasons

Members get thhe "Folk Music Journal" for free.
It's available to others too. Check out C. Sharp House

The EDS is on line there too with some good clips


08 Dec 09 - 08:09 PM (#2784224)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: TinDor

Interesting thread

09 Dec 09 - 02:18 AM (#2784418)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies / Bob Dylan
From: Genie

Yeah, very interesting.

I agree that it would be ridiculous to say that any short phrases -- musical or lyrical -- "belong" to any one composer or lyricist. That's why you can't copyright song titles or other such short phrases or 2-bar musical lines.

But there's a huge difference, IMO, between "piggybacking" on phrases and tunes you've heard before -- without claiming to "own" them -- and trying to copyright protect them so that anyone else who so "borrows" from, not only your own songs, but the ones you borrowed from, is subject to a lawsuit.   I do think there have been some who have tried to do the latter. Not sure if Dylan is one of them.


09 Dec 09 - 09:33 AM (#2784575)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan

Paul Clayton got Who's Gonna Buy You Ribbons from Who's Gonna Buy You Chickens not Scarlett Ribbons.

09 Dec 09 - 10:33 AM (#2784613)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: The Sandman

he is Robert Zimmerman,not Bob Dylan.

09 Dec 09 - 10:36 AM (#2784617)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan

And you are Dick Miles not Good Soldier Schweik.

09 Dec 09 - 10:59 AM (#2784631)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Terry McDonald

Probably Richard Miles.

09 Dec 09 - 11:12 AM (#2784645)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: bobad

There's a good article on Merlin in Rags' blog about the various tunes that Dylan "borrowed". You can even download a compilation of the originals that he has compiled, if you are so inclined.

Dylan's Influences - The songs he didn't write

09 Dec 09 - 02:26 PM (#2784783)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: The Sandman

yes, but I do not have a stage name that is different from my own.
what a cheek nicking the name of Dylan Thomas,a psychologically crafty move to make us think he is a great poet,Zimmerman describes himself[in his book] as a Folk singer, but he has the mentality of a pop star,cultivating an Image,ruthlessly seeking stardom[and nicking other peoples lyrics][Paul Clayton].
He has written some very good songs,but he is a calculating person,who has been good at self promotion and is obsessed with himself and the pursuit of furthering his own career[while trying to maintain that other people offered him up as a guru]
Chronicles tells us a lot about Robert Zimmerman,he is a good song writer,but also a nincompoop and a Charlatan.

09 Dec 09 - 02:58 PM (#2784808)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: C. Ham

GEEZ, Bob Dylan was hardly the first show biz person to change his name. He wasn't even the first (or last) folkie to do it. He wasn't even the first to "cultivate an image." Look up pictures of Lead Belly performing in striped prison uniforms years after he was a free man.

Oh, sorry, I meant to say look up pictures of Huddie Ledbetter performing in striped prison uniforms years after he was a free man.

09 Dec 09 - 03:11 PM (#2784813)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Richard Mellish

Seeing as this thread has been revived, it's perhaps worth challenging one of the citations above
"15 Original song: Anathea (words: Neil Roth, music: Lydia Wood)"

Pardon? Surely the original was Anna Thea/Feyer (i.e. given name plus surname, which explains her having a brother Laslo/Lazma/whatever Thea/Feyer) which was a Bert Lloyd translation or adaptation from Hungarian. See other threads such as this one.


09 Dec 09 - 03:12 PM (#2784815)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: M.Ted

GSS-One of the things that our Bob didn't mention in "Chronicles" was that a lot of his "Product", including albums, videos, and promotional materials, was conceived, created and developed under the supervision of George Lois, one of Madison Avenue's most famous (or maybe "notorious" is more appropriate) art/creative directors. So you are wrong, it isn't self-promotion, it was done by a top New York Agency --

09 Dec 09 - 03:20 PM (#2784820)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: M.Ted

As to the pictures of Leadbelly in stripes, CHam, that was a promotional idea of John Lomax--Leadbelly preferred to dress and perform in suit and tie, and, in sharp contrast to many of his folkie musical disciples, was known for his fastidious grooming.

09 Dec 09 - 03:38 PM (#2784829)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: The Sandman

he sill has the mentality of a pop star,and that is what he is, a good songwriter and pop star ,no different from lennon or macartney.
he is a poser of the highest order.
Sinsull,I am sure that is not your real name,I suspect you are pulling my leg in a humourous way,after all I havent yet started appearing under the stage name Good Soldier Schweik.

09 Dec 09 - 03:38 PM (#2784830)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: C. Ham

Yes, I know about Lead Belly's association, and falling out, with Lomax. My point, though, remains valid. If you want to castigate Dylan for changing his name or cultivating an image, or signing with a manipulative manager, there was plenty of precedent. Just ask Elliot Charles Adnopoz from Brooklyn (Ramblin' Jack Elliott).

09 Dec 09 - 03:53 PM (#2784843)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan

Leg pull, honest.

I agree with everything you say except that Dylan is a poser. He is a guru of sorts to the pop music crowd. And a stage name is a common choice. I always wondered why Art Garfunkle didn't take a stage name or at least go as Simon and Art.

09 Dec 09 - 04:12 PM (#2784855)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Big Tim

It's impossible to steal a trad tune, otherwise somebody should start Threads: Stolen melodies/Michael Scanlan ('Bold Fenian Men', 1864)/Carter Family/Woody Guthrie, Tom Paxton,Phil Ochs, and so on ad infinitum.

As Dave Van Ronk wrote, 'Paul Clayton, he was one of my closest friends... he found a song called 'Who'll Buy Your Chickens When I'm Gone' wwhich he changed to 'Who'll Buy You Ribbons'...not a masterpiece but it got to be a great point of contention later on when Dylan copped the melody and a couple of lines for 'Don't Think Twice'. (from 'The Mayor of MacDougal Street: a memoir' (2005). I think the key question is did Clayton write the melody? I doubt it.

So Dylan's name is Zimmerman? Correction: it was Zimmerman. He changed it to Bob Dylan by deed poll in 1962 (see Suze Rotolo's book).

btw, Good SS (!), how do you know that Dylan took the name from Dylan Thomas? He has always refused to say. I think he probably did tho nobody has proved it yet. The 'great' Welsh poet Dylan Thomas wrote a lot of old mumbo-jumbo anyway! If he were alive today, he'd probably change his name to Dylan Zimmerman!

09 Dec 09 - 04:23 PM (#2784866)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: M.Ted

I'm not castigating Dylan. I am, in fact, a big Dylan fan. I even love that Dylan/Grateful Dead Album. I'm just reinforcing what GSS, in his blunt and delightfully dour way, has pointed out, which is that you don't become a big star, and you don't stay a big star, unless you put all your energy and resources into being a big star. And if that's what you're about, then it really makes sense to hire the man who created the "I Want My MTV!" campaign to make it happen--

09 Dec 09 - 05:28 PM (#2784914)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: The Sandman

wel thankyou,how pleasing to be called blunt and delightfully dour.
Big Tim, read Chronicles, all will be explained.

09 Dec 09 - 05:37 PM (#2784920)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Dave MacKenzie

Talking about changing names, there was a well known Brechtian playwright called Jimmy Millar who changed his name to Ewan McColl inspired by the Gaelic poet of a similar name.

09 Dec 09 - 05:57 PM (#2784938)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: The Sandman

jimmy miller.
a mistake,in my opinion,Jimmy Miller is a perfectly good name.
if he had been called Gordon Bennett,or John Thomas,or Ivor Stiff it might be understandable

09 Dec 09 - 06:28 PM (#2784957)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: The Sandman

honesty is important,folk music is honest music, pop music is not.
why change your name?,it is part of you,it is, who you are.

09 Dec 09 - 09:33 PM (#2785075)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: M.Ted

Be assured, Good Soldier, that it was a compliment of the highest order--honesty, and all..

10 Dec 09 - 12:16 AM (#2785123)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: dick greenhaus

As a member of a minority, I can only say that I don't gine a damn where Dylan got his material--I'm just dismayed at what he did to it.

10 Dec 09 - 01:58 PM (#2785511)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Songbob

Dylan is Dylan is Dylan, to quote (paraphrase, actually) someone I once read. He was not a folksinger in the traditional sense, but definitely knows his traditional music. He has a radio show on Sirius or one of those sattelite channels, and presents some damn fine music with background info and commentary that shows he knows his shit.

He also puts on the public a lot -- I even wonder if the public, or part of it, puts him on. When he does a number at a Grammy or Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame show, his vocal is an even more unintelligible growl than usual, and the crowd goes wild. My question is, I know he's putting that on, since his records are much clearer of voice, but is the wild crowd reaction their own version of putting him on, or are they truly that clueless? My guess is some are truly clueless, and the others are putting on BOTH Dylan and the clueless zombie followers (that would be a good rock band name, eh?).

As for his music, there are "periods" where I loved everything he did, and other "periods" when it was purest shite. The problem is, I disagree with the critics on which period is the shittiest and which was pure gold.

Yes, a promoter -- do you know anyone who's successful in popular culture who isn't? -- and hardly a purist in his product. But still, a presence in that same pop culture we both absorb and denigrate. His 'catalog' contains songs as good, and as influential, as anything Johnny Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael, Lennon & McCartney, A.P. Carter, or even Woody Guthrie ever put out. Yes, there is dross, but the others mentioned didn't always hit it out of the park.

And as for Dave Brubeck or Charlie Parker, you (above) won't have any of their singing to criticize, as they were jazz instrumentalists, and the point of that remark was that the limitations of the octave and bar lines do not mean that 'most every combination' has been tried.

Bob Clayton

10 Dec 09 - 02:13 PM (#2785526)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan

"honesty is important,folk music is honest music, pop music is not.
why change your name?,it is part of you,it is, who you are. "

Of course, to make this statement true, first you have to define folk music and possibly pop music.
Good luck.

10 Dec 09 - 02:32 PM (#2785548)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Little Hawk

Good comments, Songbob. I'm curious...which periods of Dylan's work do you like the best? And the least?

10 Dec 09 - 02:35 PM (#2785550)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: The Sandman

Farewell To The Gold,was a song Robert Zimmerman used to sing,but it was suddenly dropped from his repertoire,when he discovered it was not a traditional song but one written by another song writer Paul Metsers,that tels you a lot about Zimmerman.

10 Dec 09 - 04:39 PM (#2785649)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Songbob

"... periods of Dylan's work ..."

Well, I liked his earliest album, but by number 3 it was palling, then he went electric, and I enjoyed "Bringing It All Back Home" and "Highway 61 Revisited," but by "Blond on Blond" it was getting old-hat again. I didn't even listen to some of that 'middle period' stuff with the born-again-and-then-not material, but liked the stuff he did with the Willburys. There was one of his recent ones that struck me as more than decent, but I can't recall which one, and his latest (not the Christmas one -- the one before, that I got at a Starbucks) was pretty dull, though, bewing blues, was at least in a known tradition.

I think he did this thing of having really "hot" spells, then coasting (or at least turning cooler), and it may be the nature of musical genius. I know I had a period of writing in which I had idea after idea, and made at least a number of them work, then hit a dry spell. Writer's block, sort of, though it felt more like the well was empty than that the bucket had been stolen (somehow I hear the line, "The pump don't work 'cause the vandal took the handle," thinking of the metaphor I just used). I assume it might be the same with Dylan.

There are times you ache to say something, and can't think of an existing song that says it. Then you write. And when you write, other ideas come easily, even ideas you hadn't thought you'd write about, but there they are, so write away, right away.

And I guess there are times you can't think of diddley to say, even if you've set yourself up to create (no distractions, new strings, clean pad, lots of pens, liquid refreshment, maybe other musicians to interact with). Some of Dylan's imagery-filled songs, the ones from the late acoustic / early electric period, show a mind just snapping with energy, and I don't think he could keep that energy level going. I know I didn't.

As for specific periods I haven't mentioned, I can't think of them. In fact, I didn't really "get" Highway 61 till much later; when it came out, I was already lost in stringband music, and had nary an electric instrument to my name. Now, however, I can listen with an open mind, so I pick and choose among his songs, and probably conflate a bunch of them into a "period" that was in reality several different times in his life.


10 Dec 09 - 05:09 PM (#2785677)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: The Sandman

ok, but any good songwriter,has those problems, Jimmy Miller wrote some very good songs,but sme that aebest forgotten.
in my opinion,Robert Zimmerman , has to throw himself into a new persona to overcome lack of creativity.
I found Chronicles a very interesting book ,it revealed much about Bob,including kidding himself pschyologically[all that rubbish about playing or singing on oddnumbers] but if it worked for him,what the hell.

10 Dec 09 - 06:14 PM (#2785729)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: The Sandman

john fahey is class.

10 Dec 09 - 09:15 PM (#2785840)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Little Hawk

I feel much the same about songwriting, Songbob. There are times when the stuff just pours out and times when the well seems to go dry.

The albums that I feel are Bob's strongest are:

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
Bringing It All Back Home (which is a masterpiece)
Highway 61 Revisited
Blonde on Blonde
Blood On The Tracks (another masterpiece)
Street Legal (undervalued by many people)
Infidels (though he could have picked some stronger songs from the same period which he left off the album, such as "Blind Willie McTell" and "Foot of Pride")

Some others I think are very good:

John Wesley Harding
Another Side of...
Shot of Love
Modern Times
World Gone Wrong
Empire Burlesque
Slow Train Coming

I also like the first album quite a bit. He plays very well on that one.

I like virtually all of some extent...but I have a hard time relating to most of the stuff on "Love and Theft", for example. "Nashville Skyline" has some nice songs on it, but it doesn't grab my attention all that much.

06 Sep 10 - 08:55 PM (#2981268)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Ben

Bob Dylan's drive to become a "star" doesn't inherently discredit him as an artist. Many of the folk musicians we consider to be beyond reproach -- people like Jimmie Rodgers or Charley Patton -- have sought the spotlight and reveled in critical admiration.

While Woody Guthrie shunned financial success, he clearly wanted to be recognized as a great musician and a revolutionary influence on America. He cultivated his image as a traveling proletariat songster -- a portrayal that became increasingly divorced from reality in the years after Guthrie moved to Los Angeles and became active in the leftist intellectual movement.

Woody Guthrie is still a great (I don't want to say "the greatest" for fear of starting an unneeded debate on this subject) folk musician and songwriter.

Likewise, Bob Dylan has contributed an amazing collection of songs to our collective songbook. To question his intent in writing songs or to call him a "charlatan" does nothing to detract from the greatness of this contribution.

06 Sep 10 - 10:53 PM (#2981293)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Bobert

Hey, ya'll... We talkin' 'bout the greatest song writer of the last 50 years an here ya'll pickin'???

Sheet fire!!!


The guy gotta drop doin' one of his radio shows to get them peoples linin' up to say, "Man, he was the *shits* (Georgia term fir awesome) 'er somethin' equally regionalized???



Yeah, seems that I done, ahhhhhh, stol....ahhhhh....borrowed one of Bob's songs on my current CD.....

Nevermind that...


07 Sep 10 - 03:18 AM (#2981367)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Tunesmith

What bothers me about Dylan borrowing these tunes is that he is sometimes not honest about his sources; for example, "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" uses the melody from the very well known "The Water is Wide", a tune Dylan must have known from the Greenwich Village folk scene, but Dylan has to claim that he got the tune from some obscure Scottish folk song that he came across!

07 Sep 10 - 03:39 AM (#2981380)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe

Little Hawk, can I back up your comments about Street Legal? Worth the price of admission for the sublime "Changing of the Guards" alone. Although as a mere 46 year old, I have to declare that Street Legal was the first Dylan album I bought, so I suppose it will always have a special place. Other than that, Desire and Blood on the Tracks are wonderful to these ears.

Using old tunes is fine, I'd have thought, as long as you are reasonably upfront about your use of them. Richard Thompson's "Farewell, Farewell" for Fairport Convention is a beautiful song and uses the tune associated with "Willie O' Winsbury" to great effect. In fact, some of my favourite song writing involves adapting old tunes - as long as the new words are strong enough to do them justice...

07 Sep 10 - 03:40 AM (#2981382)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Joe Offer

Darn, Tunesmith, all this time, I thought the tune for "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" came from "Waly, Waly."


01 Dec 10 - 01:54 AM (#3044043)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Mike

All that really matters are the moments in which a song is being sung. If those moments appeal to you then that's all you got to worry about.

The idea that something can be stolen only exists in some parts of the universe; if you're ever gonna get to a part where it doesn't you're gonna have to eventually stop believing that it does.

01 Dec 10 - 10:23 AM (#3044158)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Desi C

He proudly admits to being heavily influenced by Woody Guthrie in his early days and you can certainly hear that in the recordings. He was accused outright of palgirism by Irish writer Domininc Behan re Behan's song The Patriot Game, and indeed the tune is the same as Dylan's God On Our Side. But much as Im a fan of Behan's work, Behan himself notable nicked the tune for the Patriot game from an old Irish trad tune. And Dylan's God On our side is totally different lyrics. Behan was quite a cantankerous fellow and often flung accusations around.
Famously to the Clancy Bros for leaving a verse out of Patriot Game on their first album, the verse featuring Eamon Devalera. In fact Behan should have known that such a verse at that time would not be allowed under Eire's secret Censorship laws, it had already happened to him.
Dylan is reported to have kept a 'dignified silence, quite rightly, and as Pete seeger said in his book Rise Up Singing 'It's all part of the Folk Process'

25 Apr 12 - 11:19 AM (#3343097)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan

jim ulrich
pete seeger writes about the woman who came to him after a concert and said, you know that song you sang, isn't that the christmas charol fum fum fum? he said it was, but that it was news to him. most western composers are probobly unaware of the celtic origin of many of their musical phrases. so what? aen't we talking about folk music here?

25 Apr 12 - 12:26 PM (#3343133)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: dick greenhaus

Of course, Behan's "Patriot Game" was set to the tune of "Hear the Nightingale Sing" (One Morning in May)

25 Apr 12 - 02:36 PM (#3343190)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Allan Conn

The tune used for "Walls Of Redwing" is just "The Road And The Miles To Dundee". I don't know if Dylan just used it or claimed to have written it. I agree that the former is perfectly acceptable practice.

25 Apr 12 - 04:43 PM (#3343237)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Jim McLean

Dick, you're correct of course, but as I've pointed out many times before, Dylan parodied Behan's words to the same tune, proving he, Dylan, didn't hear the tune from the traditional Nightingale song but from Dominic's Patriot Game. I Know this as a fact as Dylan asked me about the Patriot Game when he heard Nigel Denver singing it in the Troubadour many years ago.
I think we should consider Dylan as a re-writer rather than a writer.

25 Apr 12 - 06:52 PM (#3343290)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Allan Conn

"I think we should consider Dylan as a re-writer rather than a writer"

Or perhaps both!

25 Apr 12 - 08:21 PM (#3343325)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan

I read a bio once and it claimed Dylan stole "Blowing In The Wind" from a classmate (who refused to confirm or refute the accusation). Classmates were quoted as saying they heard the guy sing the song before Bob.

Personally, I think composers should at least acknowledge any sources or references in their works if "sampled" from works by others.
Claiming it's all theirs when it is obviously not ALL theirs is shameful and, if it results in monetary gain, downright theft.

25 Apr 12 - 11:25 PM (#3343360)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: catspaw49

I have never understood the great antipathy so many around here have about Dylan. Probably we are the ones in the tens of thousands who know any of this. And there never seems to be anyone except Martin Carthy with a crapstorm going at Paul Simon and he got over it after awhile. God forbid if we don't devote our lives to to doing 3 part harmonies to the "Top 50 Child Ballad Hit List" while squeezing a melodeon with our asscheeks but I'll take a pass.

...........geeziz........gimmee peace.................


26 Apr 12 - 12:26 AM (#3343372)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: MGM·Lion

One of Dylan's most distinguished songs, The Lonesome Death Of Hatty Carroll, does have a tune that seems to be Dylan's own ~~ or can anyone name any other source for it?


26 Apr 12 - 08:58 AM (#3343491)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Les from Hull

I've been a fan of Bob's since his first recordings but couldn't help but notice that he credited Martin Carthy's singing of Lord Franklin (trad) for the tune to Bob Dylan's Dream, yet years later didn't mention Nic Jones when he recorded what I and many others regarded as a direct copy of his version of Canadee-i-o. Regular readers of this forum will know all about Nic's circumstances.
Still if we are considering 'failure to acknowledge sources' I offer two words. The first is Led ...

26 Apr 12 - 10:13 AM (#3343522)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Tootler

What bothers me about Dylan borrowing these tunes is that he is sometimes not honest about his sources; for example, "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" uses the melody from the very well known "The Water is Wide", a tune Dylan must have known from the Greenwich Village folk scene, but Dylan has to claim that he got the tune from some obscure Scottish folk song that he came across!

18 months later, I know, and I know Joe Offer was joking but he had it in one. "O Waly Waly" is a Scottish variant of "The Water is Wide" so it is quite possible Dylan originally had the tune from that source.

26 Apr 12 - 12:25 PM (#3343585)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: zozimus

Hi Les,
There would have been many versions of Canadee-i-o available besides Nic Jones version that Bob could have based his version on.
Meanwhile, would it not be better, and take up a lot less space, if we could list the few songs by Bob that were in fact original melodies composed by Bob?

26 Apr 12 - 04:29 PM (#3343693)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: PoppaGator

"One of Dylan's most distinguished songs, The Lonesome Death Of Hatty Carroll, does have a tune that seems to be Dylan's own..."

Only one? Really? And such a simple monotonic chant, at that?

I think it would be nearly impossible to create as many songs as Bob has without borrowing phrases here and there, both musical and lyrical. As he famously said himself, when asked about his "influences," "All you have to do is keep your ears open and you can't help but be influenced."

Let me also point out that a preponderance of the songs itemized as being most obviously based on older material are Dylan's earliest compositions, from the 2-to-3 year period prior to the recording of his first album. In other words, from when he was learning to be a songwriter. I think it's obvious that his strategy for personal development as an artist worked.

Of course, the subject of this thread is "Stolen melodies," not stolen lyrics.

With all the decades-long discussion of Bob-as-poet, and about his lyrics, we tend to forget that he produced music as well as words, and that NOT every one of his melodies was "stolen" or even "borrowed."

One special favorite of mine among Dylan melodies is "Just Like a Woman." Beautiful piece of music that stands on its own even as an instrumental, in my opinion. Can anyone name a trad song from which THAT melody was nicked? I don't know of any such piece...

That's just one example. Dylan wrote some great melodies. Even in the lengthy article supplied by Spaw, there are many instances where the author makes note of a single word or phrase that can be found elsewhere in the canon, and concedes that the rest of the song in question is original...

Have I convinced any Dylan-haters to come over from the Dark Side? Hmmm, probably not. Just wanted to have my say, nevertheless.

26 Apr 12 - 04:47 PM (#3343701)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Chongo Chimp

I would like to point out that "The Star-Spangled Banner" has a stolen melody. It useta be an old British drinking (pub) song before Fancis Scott Keys put the the new patriotic words to it.

This don't seem to worry youse people too much, huh? Maybe because you don't even know? And mostly because Bob Dylan didn't do it? Possibly?

Then there's the one that goes "My Country, 'Tis of Thee, sweet land of liberty...of Thee I sing" etc.

THAT one's a stolen melody too! They got it from the British anthem "God Save The King".

Woody Guthrie stole lotsa tunes. So did many other well-loved musicians.

I could list lotsa other "stolen" melodies that people take fer granted too, stolen by all kindsa people besides Bob Dylan, but no one seems to care about those...cos BOB DYLAN didn't do it!

This is funny. ;-) Bob Dylan obviously has a real special place in certain people's minds...people that wanta hate someone in their own field, and hate him bad. He meets their emotional needs in that respect, while so many others don't. You gotta wonder just why that is...

- Chongo

26 Apr 12 - 05:13 PM (#3343714)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: MGM·Lion

Didn't say "only one", Poppa ~~ I said "One of..." ~~ quite a common formulation, dontcha-know! Don't agree about the tune; think it an excellent word-carrying air.


26 Apr 12 - 05:44 PM (#3343726)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: The Sandman

Dylan[ imo] is a bore

27 Apr 12 - 05:42 AM (#3343910)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: The Sandman

as a performer that is in 2012, in 1963 i would have paid to see him, and he has written a number of good songs

27 Apr 12 - 04:29 PM (#3344135)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Little Hawk

Well, he hardly has any voice left at this point, if I can go by the last time I saw him live. I enjoyed the show, but it's too bad his voice is so wrecked.

Ian Tyson's voice is wrecked now too, unfortunately. They both are very fine songwriters.

27 Apr 12 - 05:43 PM (#3344158)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: dick greenhaus

It's only theft if you claim it as original and try to legally stop others from using it.

27 Apr 12 - 05:55 PM (#3344164)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Tootler

I really don't know why people make such a fuss about this. After all, using existing melodies for songs has been standard practice for centuries (literally).

27 Apr 12 - 06:23 PM (#3344171)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Tootler

I meant to add to my previous post:

It's not as if he has exactly made a secret of it.

27 Apr 12 - 07:53 PM (#3344206)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Stim

I just listened to the Nic Jones and the Dylan versions of "Canadee-io" side by side. It's one of my favorite Nic-Tunes, but I hadn't heard the Dylan version before. Don't hear any more similarity in the arrangements than you'd expect, given it's the same song.

Realized something else, though--Nic's version has a tight, rhythmic line in the bass that makes it special--it has almost a rock/R&B feel to it, and it's always reminded me of something, but I never could figure out what, till today. Check out Patti Smith's Because the Night

And no, he didn't steal it, he used it to make something that seems entirely different.

28 Apr 12 - 08:08 AM (#3344374)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,mando-player-91

I seen Dylan in concert oh around 4 years ago his voice was a mess then and it really wasn't much of a concert I think he even have been a bit lit as I could not understand a word of his songs or which song was which. Or maybe it was me that was a bit lit who knows

28 Apr 12 - 12:54 PM (#3344479)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Fidjit

From the 8th. January '08 till today 28th April 2012. Not bad going for a thread.

Lots of likes and dislikes flying about. Never cared much for, Bob (He says, soto Rowan Atkins) myself. Was just interested in what he had nicked. And seemingly quite a lot. Made a packet out of it too.
I wonder if I SHOULD . . .   . No I can't go down that road. I will still give my sources and credit where it is due.


13 Jun 12 - 06:46 PM (#3363080)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan 's Stealing of James Damiano 's Songs

13 Jun 12 - 07:13 PM (#3363088)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: bobad

That Wikileaksyola site appears to be bogus - it is not WikiLeaks.

13 Jun 12 - 08:00 PM (#3363113)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Fossil

Heavens, how nostalgic! The very first thread I ever posted on Mudcat, in September 2000, nearly 12 years ago, was about what I saw then as Bob's rip-off of "Canadee-i-o". And as I recall, I got pretty roughly handled by the locals for re-upping what was even then a very old debate!

Well, it was pointed out at the time that the song wasn't Nic's, he had acquired it from somewhere and Bob, like anyone else, was perfectly entitled to use it, bringing his own influences (which certainly included Nic Jones) to bear on deciding how to treat the material.

This debate is ultimately sterile. What Bob Dylan has given to the world is a body of very significant songs, lines that stick in the memory, and remembrance of touring performances that range from sublime to bloody awful. I have seen him live on many occasions and would go again in a heartbeat. You never know what you're going to get. But on form or not, drunk or stoned, Dylan can still give a crowd a good evening. And it really doesn't matter where the melodies come from.

"I was so much older then: I'm younger than that now..."

14 Jun 12 - 03:39 AM (#3363225)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Dave Hanson

Unfortunately the website lists everything Bob recorded as ' words and music Bob Dylan ' including all the traditional songs and some of the early things he didn't write, I'm sure this has nothing to do with Bob himself but the over zealous person who runs the website.

Dave H

14 Jun 12 - 05:24 AM (#3363249)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Don Wise

@ Dave Hanson

More probably his management and/or Record Company.

14 Jun 12 - 06:01 AM (#3363258)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan

I give Bob Dylan great credit for some wonderful prose poetry. Like Woody Guthrie said, it's the words. But Dyan had a knack for accompanying music that was most compelling. I just missed meeting him at the UofM.I knew his contemporaries: Maury Bernstein, who passed away and was a great folk guitarist, Keith Johnson, who has since passed away. And a guy who knew everyone, but I can't remember his name! He was later a used car dealer. Had a run down apartment building, like most UofM student lodgings were and still are. Claimed Dylan lived there off and on.

Later on around 1971, I worked at WLOL-AM in Minneapolis with a fellow radio DJ back in my radio days who was a boyhood friend of Bob Dylan, "Big John Bucklen. John has a nice memory site on the web. You Dylan fans should read it! I see via the web that John is either still in radio or semi-retired from it. I left the biz inn 1977, signing KTWN-FM, Anoka, over to "beautiful music." Ha! Elevator music was better than the format change from classical to no-class music. But such was and still is the radio biz. I miss it.

I'll have a write up about my quirky classical music days elsewhere in good old Mudcat. Cheers!

14 Jun 12 - 10:30 AM (#3363344)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Whistle Stop

I've always found this to be a pretty silly topic, but being a Dylan fan from way back, it's hard to stay out of the fray.

I think one thing that is lost in all this is that there are a gazillion songs out there, and when you narrow it down to songs that are in the style(s) Dylan does (American/British folk-based, in a comfortable singing range, constructed out of simple melodies over a few rudimentary chords, etc.), it's almost impossible to invent new melodies that aren't remeniscent of some existing melody or other. And many of the examples cited in this thread aren't exact copies of existing melodies, but are merely similar. Given how prolific a writer Dylan is, and the inherent limitations in his song styles, it's difficult to imagine what he might have done otherwise.

This also comes up in American country music, rock and roll, and especially blues, where the liberal borrowing of both melodies and lyrics is almost a defining element of the style. And along with various folk songs and stylings based around the Smith anthology and other similar sources, those are the three main elements that come into play in Dylan's music. But I rarely see these sorts of discussions about other songwriters, or even other folk-based performers (unless they're cited by people defending Dylan against these sorts of charges). Think about how many knockoffs there have been of Chuck Berry's songs, and ask yourself how many people have been taken to task for that (other than Brian Wilson for the "Sweet Little Sixteen/Surfin USA" connection). It makes one wonder whether those who object the loudest have other gripes with Dylan, and this is just an area where they think he's vulnerable.

In the end, I don't care if Blowin' In the Wind sounds kind of like No More Auction Block -- I probably would have never heard the latter if not for the former, and frankly (in my opinion, of course), Dylan's song is the better of the two.

14 Jun 12 - 12:33 PM (#3363399)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: dick greenhaus

Doesn't "borrowed" mean that they'll be returned?

14 Jun 12 - 12:59 PM (#3363409)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Whistle Stop

Did you really think that particular word was the central element of my post?

If you're really looking for an answer, I don't know of anyone who has been prevented from continuing to sing the other songs.

15 Jun 12 - 07:43 AM (#3363677)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Leadfingers


15 Jun 12 - 07:47 AM (#3363679)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Leadfingers

There ARE occasions when lyrics can be borrowed - Last weekend I heard a song protesting aout the UK Coal Industry from the point of view of an ex miner - One verse finished with the line "Hey Buddy , can you spare a mine" which is a superb use of someone else's lyric in a different context.

15 Jun 12 - 09:35 PM (#3364002)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: dick greenhaus

If they'r copyrighted, the copyright holder can certainly try to prevent others from singing the other songs.

16 Jun 12 - 10:09 AM (#3364159)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Stringsinger

All folk tunes are nicked. Folklorists call them variants. Tunes are vehicles for lyric stories
and may be slightly modified but their function is not a melody per se as you would find in classical or Broadway show tunes, but as beds for story-telling.

Copyright laws are difficult to establish with folk melodies. The rule used to be eight
consecutive bars of music to establish composership but that's easy to change.

16 Jun 12 - 03:36 PM (#3364279)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Barbara Shaw

I have occasionally written a new song and wondered if someone had already written it. I'm sure that my musical "signature" is a product of everything I've heard throughout my life, and it would be no surprise to find fragments from older tunes, phrases from older lyrics and poems in my music, despite my convictions of creativity.

Not to compare myself with Dylan, but his lyrics, his message and his delivery make just about any melody he uses his own, whether he originated it (what does that even mean?) or not. Well said, Whistle Stop and others.

16 Jun 12 - 07:00 PM (#3364351)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: ollaimh

dylan got sued by dimminic behan for stealing the tune of "the patriot game" for his "with god on our side"

within reason i think it's folk porocess but if you "borrow" another song writers originnal tune then you should acknowwledge it.

i just heard "the banks of newfoundland" to the tune of "the lakes of ponchartrain", a very nice version.

the nova scotia version of fennario has a totally different tune and it's called "bonnie barbry o" as does the nova scotia version of "barbra alan" totally different tune. you can find both either in helen creighton or the canadian government folk song collection from the sixties(i have a cd reissue but can't remember the title"

so sometimes old words have new tunes.

i suspect the tunes are scottish, however as helen creughton collected a lot of those from the guysborough and halifax county shores where there were a lot more scotts immigrants than english.

16 Jun 12 - 07:09 PM (#3364357)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: McGrath of Harlow

No new thing under the sun - and that includes tunes.

20 Aug 13 - 09:37 PM (#3551256)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan

The woist "songs" zimmy has done are the heroic cause songs, like emmet till, hurricane, death of hattie carroll, etc., etc..

One of His best is "Tangled Up In Blue" is that stolen/borrowed? "positively 4th Street" and "How does it feel?" also "Hey, Crawl out your window" are the ones that totally sold me on his creative ability. I heard him first in L.A. on the Les Claypool radio show. Les played his first album and asked everybody what did they think? I thought he was some older guy, as old as cisco, or elliot, and thought he couldn't sing very well, but some of his songs were really quite good, if you were into "civil rights" etc.. But by his 2nd album, I thought he was the sheet! Some time around then Les Claypool came on the air and ranted negative on Dylan and swore if people kept calling requests for him he was going to quit. Which he did.

21 Aug 13 - 02:15 PM (#3551483)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: McGrath of Harlow

Not too much about civil right in his first album. Maybe ' Song to Woody?'

21 Aug 13 - 05:13 PM (#3551538)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: pavane

Catspaw's posting above (2009) was far from being a complete list, of course.

Just for one example: Ballad in Plain D = I once loved a lass aka The week before Easter

But I do agree that Dylan added a great deal in most cases.

22 Aug 13 - 09:40 AM (#3551728)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: GUEST,Dylan.

I am not a fan of Bob Dylan, but having met him many years ago I can honestly say he may not have ever written a single tune but he wrote some fantastic words.

So lets give credit where credits due.

I write, but like Dylan, I tend to add lines or verses to already existing songs. I like to think I am complimenting, not stealing.

A little charity please.

Evan Johnson

22 Aug 13 - 02:08 PM (#3551834)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: pavane

In my biography of Samuel Chappuzeau (Who's he, you may say, but an ancestor of mine) you can read how Moliere 'borrowed' words from Samuel and also from Cyrano de Bergerac. Nothing new, this was known over 200 years ago.

Moliere is of course revered by the French, in the same way that we (Brits) revere Shakespeare.

23 Aug 13 - 10:57 AM (#3552104)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: dick greenhaus

It's only stealing if you copyright it and attempt to stop others from using the tune.

23 Aug 13 - 03:33 PM (#3552185)
Subject: RE: Stolen melodies/Bob Dylan
From: Stringsinger

The tune in folk music is always changing. Jazz players have done their versions
of popular tunes and renamed them. I don't see a problem here. I don't agree that
Dylan's versions are superior to the originals. I have no problem with someone taking an idea or story and changing it to suit a different time or his/her personality.

Art is thievery. If I put new lyrics to Nottamun Town or the Patriot Game and Dylan's lawyers attempted to sue me, then I would have a problem with that attempt.

The folk process runs counter to music copyright laws in this country controlled by the licensing agencies such as ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.

I think as Jean Ritchie says that it's good form to acknowledge the source for one's song if it is a tune. I also know that sometimes a song can be rewritten to improve it. Folk songs are rewritten (called variants) to reflect the time of the person doing the rewriting.

A.P. Carter rewrote songs to fit in with the Carter Family concerts.   Ie: "I Will Twine Midst The Ringlets of My Raven Black Hair" composed by English ladies, became "Wildwood Flower", a traditional staple.

Folk singers do this, and so what? "Solidarity Forever", an important contemporary statement about unionism based on the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" is being sung today in the halls of Wisconsin State House. Everything here is a matter of context.

Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Dylan and others use trad tunes for new ideas.
I do it myself. The copyright laws are at fault here. They need to be revamped to include the folk process.