BeatleLinks LogoNav Panel New Sites Cool Sites Top Rated Fab Forum Add A Site Link To Us Revolution Radio New Products

Go Back   BeatleLinks Fab Forum > Other Forums > Not Only A Northern Song


Thread Tools Display Modes
Old Jul 10, 2003, 11:52 PM   #1
Sgt. Pepper
BeatleChick's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 17, 2003
Location: San Diego
Posts: 4,515

Default Dylan and Plagarism?!

I couldn't believe this, but here are some stories that I found in my travels through cyberspace today. I saw Bob last year while he was on tour promoting "Love and Theft", and I am so bummed out now to know that half of the stuff I heard, wasn't really even his! Oh wow, how could he--Bob of all people--do such a thing?! And after all that he has stood for all these years! reality is completly messed up now, man!!! I'm interested to know what you guys think of all this (let me know)!!!! is the proof:


Bob Dylan's lyrics: Just like a Yakuza? NEW YORK (AFP)

Lyrics credited to Bob Dylan (news) on his most recent studio album may owe more than a passing similarity to an obscure book about a Japanese gangster published 10 years earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that according to comparisons first noticed by an American Dylan fan living in Japan, the 62-year-old rock legend appears to have lifted at least a dozen passages from "Confessions of Yakuza," written by Junichi Saga, a physician and writer living in a small town north of Tokyo.

"I'm not as cool or forgiving as I sound," Dylan sings on the track "Floater" from his 2001 album "Love and Theft."

"I'm not as cool or forgiving as I might have sounded," Saga wrote in his book.

The Journal report named Chris Johnson, an English teacher from Minnesota, as the man who uncovered the apparent "borrowings" while he was browsing in a bookstore in Fukuoka.

Opening Saga's book, Johnson read a line on the first page -- "My old man would sit there like a feudal lord" -- which reminded him of the Dylan lyric "My old man, he's like some feudal lord," from "Love and Theft."

"I've probably listened to that album at least 100 times, so the matching phrases just jumped right out at me," the newspaper quoted Johnson as saying.

Searching for other similarities, Johnson found a dozen lines in the book that closely matched Dylan lyrics, then posted his findings on two websites devoted to his hero's music.

There was no immediate reaction from Dylan himself, but Saga, also 62, was anything but upset when he was told that his work had apparently been imitated.

"Please say hello to Bob Dylan for me, because I am very flattered to hear this news," he told the Journal.

The writer's publisher, Kodansha International, was equally upbeat about the revelations and gave no indication that it was considering legal action.

"I guess we should print the next edition with Bob Dylan's picture on the cover," said Stephen Shaw, editorial director at Kodansha's New York office.

Sales of Saga's book, which were very modest on publication, experienced a significant boost after Johnson's discoveries were posted on the Internet.

Dylan Lyrics: They Ain't His, Babe?
By Joal Ryan, Entertainment - E! Online

Exactly how freewheelin' is Bob Dylan?

Just maybe freewheelin' enough to liberally lift at least a dozen phrases from a Japanese oral history book for his Grammy-winning album Love and Theft.

Where Dylan and Confessions of a Yakuza: A Life in Japan's Underworld are concerned, none of the concerned parties has used the "P" word (for plagiarism). Perhaps that's because the most concerned party--the book's author--is thrilled to think the living music legend may be a devoted reader.

"Please say hello to Bob Dylan (news) for me because I am very flattered and very happy to hear this news," Junichi Saga, a 62-year-old Japanese physician who has authored several non-fiction titles, told Tuesday's Wall Street Journal.

Saga's book, based on his conversations with a dying patient who had lived as a yakuza, or gangster, was published in English in 1991. Released in 2001, Dylan's Love and Theft took its very title, as the Los Angeles Times points out, from Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class, a book published in the U.S. in 1995.

The similarities between Confessions of a Yakuza and Love and Theft were first noted on the Web site Bob Dylan: Chords and Lyrics (, and broken wide in the Journal.

An eagle-eyed English teacher living abroad in Japan gets credit for starting the stone rolling. Minnesota-born Chris Johnson, a Dylan fan who'd stumbled upon Saga's work, noticed a line on the book's very first page ("My old man would sit there like a feudal lord...") was near identical to a line from the Dylan song "Floater" ("My old man, he's like some feudal lord...")

"I've probably listened to that album at least a hundred times, so the matching phrases just jumped right out at me," Johnson said in the Journal. "They may as well have been printed in red ink."

On a mission, Johnson told the paper he went through the book looking for more signs that Dylan's eyes might have been there first. By the time he was done, the newspaper reported, he had a dozen pages dogeared.

Among the passages, as detailed by Johnson in a message sent to the Dylan song site in May:

Confessions of a Yakuza: "My mother...was the daughter of a wealth farmer...[she] died when I was 11...My father was a traveling salesman...I never met him."
Dylan's "Po' Boy": "My mother was a daughter of a wealthy farmer/My father was a travelin' salesman, I never met him."

Confessions of a Yakuza: "I'm not as cool or forgiving as I might have sounded."
Dylan's "Floater": "I'm not quite as cool or forgiving as I sound..."

Confessions of a Yakuza: "There was nothing sentimental about him--it didn't bother him at all that some of his pals had been killed."
Dylan's "Lonesome Day Blues": "He's not sentimental, didn't bother him at all how many of his pals have been killed."

"I guess we should print the next edition with Bob Dylan's picture on the cover," Stephen Shaw, who edited Saga's book, told the Journal.

But, like Saga, Shaw is far from suing mad.

"We're flattered as hell, let's face it," Shaw said in the newspaper.

Saga's publisher, Kodansha International, is also grateful for a bump in sales. Saga told the Journal he'd made a modest $8,500 off the book--through Tuesday, anyway.

When Johnson's report was first posted, the book's sales ranking jumped from 65,000th to 45,000th place, the newspaper said. Since the Journal article was published, Confessions of a Yakuza has zoomed into the Top 100--at 68th place by Wednesday afternoon.

So far, there's been no comment on the Saga saga from Dylan. In the Journal, the mumbling one's manager, Jeff Rosen, said that, as far as he knew, the work was "original."

But as far back as his days as a teenage troubadour in New York's Greenwich Village, Dylan was known as a musician who borrowed early and often. It's a common trick, the difference was Dylan was able to use it to great effect.

"He listened to everybody, and he had an incredible ability to take things in and absorb them and turn around and put them right back out there like they had always been a part of him," folk and blues artist "Spider" John Koerner said in the 2001 book Positively 4th Street, a collective biography of Dylan, Joan Baez, her sister, Mimi, and her brother-in-law, Richard Fariņa.

In the Journal, Chris Johnson said he can picture Dylan sitting in a hotel room in Japan, leafing through Confessions of a Yakuza, zeroing in on lines that caught his eye.

"I kind of wondered if he had done a lot of that before on other albums," Johnson said in the paper.

But, as Johnson pointed out, the "P" word hasn't exactly followed Dylan around during his five-decade career.
BeatleChick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 11, 2003, 12:42 AM   #2
Day Tripper
laura's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 16, 2003
Location: CA
Posts: 389

Default Re: Dylan and Plagarism?!

I read that article in the L.A. Times a few days ago, but I really don't have much of a problem with it. Maybe I should, since people keep talking about the horrors of plagiarism, but I really don't think that should detract from your enjoyment of the CD. I'm not even a Dylan fan, but I'm glad the author of the book isn't pressing charges. While I think he (Bob) should've mentioned the book in the liner notes or something, I remember the article I read mentioned that only about 6% of the lyrics on the CD were taken from the book.

EDIT: Here's the link, hope it works! This article offered a bit more info and it's pretty interesting:

[size="1"][ Jul 11, 2003, 01:45 AM: Message Edited By: laura ][/size]
laura is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:46 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Site Features
Search Links

  Advanced Search
Category Jump





New User Sign-Up!
Lost Password?
Beatles History

The costs of running our database and discussion forum are steadily rising. Any help we receive is greatly appreciated. Click HERE for more information about donating to BeatleLinks.
» Chat Room
» Current News
» Monthly Contest
» Interviews Database
» Random Site
» Banner Exchange
» F.A.Q.
» Advertise
» Credits
» Legal
» Contact Us
Copyright © 2000-2023 BeatleLinks
All Rights Reserved