“What are your songs about Bob?”
“Oh, some are about four minutes, some about five and some, believe it or not, are about eleven or twelve”, he replied
“Bob Dylan is not authentic at all: He’s a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception”
“Who the hell’s Jonah Lehrer”
When the New Yorker writer Jonah Lehrer embellished a few quotes from Bob Dylan in his book “Imagine – How Creativity Works” he must have thought, “What the hell, everything about this guy is made up anyway”. One of the quotes he invented was a line added to Dylan’s comment on his songs taken from the 1960s documentary Don’t Look Back: “There’s no great message.” Lehrer then added: “Stop asking me to explain.” He didn’t allow for the Dylan freaks, who hounded him for sources, until he was forced to admit that they came from his imagination. That admission cost him his job, and all unsold copies of his bestselling book have been pulped.
This is deeply ironic, because there’s very little that Dylan has said or written about himself, which is reliable or true. It began when he first arrived in New York and didn’t want to admit that he came from a nice respectable middle-class Jewish family, so he invented a spicy back-story. He then plundered old tunes and lyrics and claimed them as his own. When he published his autobiography: “Chronicles: Volume 1” the style and the quality of his writing received universal praise, but it’s now been revealed that large chunks of it were copied and pasted from other people’s novels, magazine articles and self-help books.* None of this matters to Dylan fans who love the sense of mystery which surrounds their hero.
My favourite Dylan story, which may or may not be true, is about his visit to Dave Stewart’s studio in Crouch End. He’d been recording with Dave Stewart in Los Angeles and was invited to stop by at his famous Church Studios in Crouch End if he should happen to be in England. A few months later Dylan decided to take him up on the offer and took a taxi to Crouch End. He was deposited at what he thought was the address and asked the woman who answered the door if Dave was in. “He’s just popped out on a call” she said and asked him to come in and wait. Fifteen minutes later Dave, who was a plumber, arrived home and asked his wife if there were any messages. “No”, she replied, “But Bob Dylan’s in the front room having a cup of tea”.