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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 00:50 GMT 
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MDD, I just don't think other artists are interesting enough to be scrutinized like that - maybe people do that for other artists, but perhaps not to the degree they do with Bob.

Is it unethical to take from copyright sources on one hand and on the other hand sue others if they take something you copyrighted to yourself? I think yes.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 00:59 GMT 
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Giada wrote:
MMD wrote:
Is Dylan unethical in not acknowledging his sources?
Harmonica and Benny Boy, for instance (and they are the one's I distinctly remember saying something like this), find Dylan's artistic practice unethical. He owes public attribution and acknowledgement. I disagree but fully understand their position.

I'm pretty sure Bennyboy only applies that to ModBob. Don't think he's ever complained about 60s or RTR Bob.

Yes, that's right. My apologies. I think Harmonica thinks this stretches further back.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 01:03 GMT 
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Johanna Parker wrote:

Is it unethical to take from copyright sources on one hand and on the other hand sue others if they take something you copyrighted to yourself? I think yes.


Just askin'

Has Dylan ever been in a lawsuit with someone he claimed stole his stuff? I don't know.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 01:09 GMT 
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Johanna Parker wrote:
MDD, I just don't think other artists are interesting enough to be scrutinized like that - maybe people do that for other artists, but perhaps not to the degree they do with Bob.

Is it unethical to take from copyright sources on one hand and on the other hand sue others if they take something you copyrighted to yourself? I think yes.


Yes, I think that it's unethical to do the kind of appropriating Dylan does -- if there are copyrights etc -- and then to turn around an sue when some one does something identical with his work.

But, I think we're losing the point. I was just interested in your point that Dylan's early work could have been done by anyone since what he did was to borrow from existing sources. My point was that the way Dylan did it distinguished him from others trying to do similar, perhaps identical things, and that the way he did it has to be considered art. Others did not, and apparently could not, do what Dylan did. Finally, I was arguing that the issue of appropriation doesn't make Dylan less an artist.

And yes, I think there are many, many artists, some popular musicians, who deserve and receive the kind of scrutiny people apply to Dylan's lyrics and melodies. Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker come to mind immediately.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 01:47 GMT 
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Johanna Parker wrote:
MDD, I just don't think other artists are interesting enough to be scrutinized like that - maybe people do that for other artists, but perhaps not to the degree they do with Bob.

Is it unethical to take from copyright sources on one hand and on the other hand sue others if they take something you copyrighted to yourself? I think yes.


i dont recall bob being sued, nor do i think bob has sued anyone, at least i dont recall.
if bob was this unethical person, he would be filled with lawsuits. cant think of any.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 02:22 GMT 
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MMD wrote:
But, I think we're losing the point. I was just interested in your point that Dylan's early work could have been done by anyone since what he did was to borrow from existing sources. My point was that the way Dylan did it distinguished him from others trying to do similar, perhaps identical things, and that the way he did it has to be considered art. Others did not, and apparently could not, do what Dylan did. Finally, I was arguing that the issue of appropriation doesn't make Dylan less an artist.

Part of what Dylan did in the 60s was open the floodgates for popular songwriting--you can write about anything, anyway you want etc. So, in that respect I suppose JP has a point, someone would have come along eventually who would've changed songwriting, redefined what a song could be. But you can probably say that about almost anything, so I don't think it's important, he's the done who did it.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 04:38 GMT 
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goombay wrote:
Johanna Parker wrote:
MDD, I just don't think other artists are interesting enough to be scrutinized like that - maybe people do that for other artists, but perhaps not to the degree they do with Bob.

Is it unethical to take from copyright sources on one hand and on the other hand sue others if they take something you copyrighted to yourself? I think yes.


i dont recall bob being sued, nor do i think bob has sued anyone, at least i dont recall.
if bob was this unethical person, he would be filled with lawsuits. cant think of any.


I agree goombay. I don't remember reading about any legitimate law suits about Dylan and copyright infringement. There is often complaint about Dylan's use of Web Sheriff to stop the unauthorized distribution of his music on the internet. But I think that is not meaningfully similar to what we are discussing.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 04:44 GMT 
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Giada wrote:
MMD wrote:
But, I think we're losing the point. I was just interested in your point that Dylan's early work could have been done by anyone since what he did was to borrow from existing sources. My point was that the way Dylan did it distinguished him from others trying to do similar, perhaps identical things, and that the way he did it has to be considered art. Others did not, and apparently could not, do what Dylan did. Finally, I was arguing that the issue of appropriation doesn't make Dylan less an artist.

Part of what Dylan did in the 60s was open the floodgates for popular songwriting--you can write about anything, anyway you want etc. So, in that respect I suppose JP has a point, someone would have come along eventually who would've changed songwriting, redefined what a song could be. But you can probably say that about almost anything, so I don't think it's important, he's the done who did it.


I wonder Giada, if it would have happened any way. There is a way that the kind of historical argument I was making can lead one to become deterministic. It's certainly a fascinating discussion: what if Dylan had stayed in Hibbing or gone to UM and become an English professor or a banker or (as he wanted, apparently) a soldier. Would someone have affected the culture in the way he did? How different would it have been? What would not be possible today -- not just in music, but in our culture, in other cultures? What possible roads did we not go down that might have been better even in some ways?

I am with goombay (if I remember his line correctly from another thread): the idea of Dylan just is...it had to be what it is. He had to be what he is.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 04:49 GMT 

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which brings to my mind.. do you feel that Bob Dylan is just a figment of Robert Zimmerman's imagination, a character hes made up in order to make sense of the sense of what happened when his words hit the page..or do you feel he is one and the same?


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 05:07 GMT 
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Ain't Talkin' wrote:
Johanna Parker wrote:

Is it unethical to take from copyright sources on one hand and on the other hand sue others if they take something you copyrighted to yourself? I think yes.


Just askin'

Has Dylan ever been in a lawsuit with someone he claimed stole his stuff? I don't know.

Wasn't there this guy who claimed he wrote Blowin' In The Wind in the early sixties? At least for a while.
It began like a bragging trip or something but his friends got so convinced that he felt he couldn't back down anymore.
It seemed that at the time some people actually wanted to believe him.

I can't remember if the guy took any legal steps but the word certainly got around.
I vaguely remember him dong some interviews about it but I don't know if Dylan ever said something about it himself.

I remember reading an interview with the guy, years and years later, in which he confessed he still had nightmares about the whole episode :lol:


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 06:51 GMT 
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They were all given the same tools, Dylan and all those around him, when he started out in New York: the times, the mood, the atmosphere, each other, the history, the anthologies, the records, Izzy Young, Woody etc etc. They all lined up on the blocks alongside each other. Dylan's unfair advantage was that he was far more talented than the rest of the field. They all borrowed, just like they always had. But Dylan gave back far, far more than he ever borrowed. He borrowed to become the most significant original out there.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 07:18 GMT 
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Train-I-Ride wrote:
They were all given the same tools, Dylan and all those around him,
when he started out in New York: the times, the mood, the atmosphere,
each other, the history, the anthologies, the records, Izzy Young, Woody etc etc.
They all lined up on the blocks alongside each other. Dylan's unfair advantage was
that he was far more talented than the rest of the field. They all borrowed, just like
they always had. But Dylan gave back far, far more than he ever borrowed.
He borrowed to become the most significant original out there.

= EXCELLENT perspective and POST. .. 8)
:arrow: .. Agreed and Applauded.
.. and to anyone who says it ain't Original because he borrowed
- that's as lame as saying it ain't a hole because you borrowed the shovel.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 09:23 GMT 
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Ain't Talkin' wrote:
Johanna Parker wrote:

Is it unethical to take from copyright sources on one hand and on the other hand sue others if they take something you copyrighted to yourself? I think yes.


Just askin'

Has Dylan ever been in a lawsuit with someone he claimed stole his stuff? I don't know.


He sued Apple for using the name Dylan - does it get more absurd? :lol:
http://www.storiesofapple.net/dylan-sues-apple.html


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 10:27 GMT 
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MMD wrote:
Johanna Parker wrote:
Why is it so bad to think that things didn't spring 100% from his own mind? Of course he's created works of beauty, but he didn't live in isolation, and there are influences all around. I'm not saying I could pick them up do as successful collage work as he did and still does - but I'm sure most people here have read at one time or another how people compared him to a sponge, sucking up influences and ideas from all around him. And he filters them back through his own beautiful artistic mind.

@Giada: Please define 'original', then.


All creative work -- by the great and the terrible -- is a reworking of influences. There is literally no other kind of creative act.
That this is a problem, an area of debate here and among people who pay attention to Dylan, is owing to a Romantic era idea of genius dominating in the pop culture of the American and British 60's that claimed the artist (Dylan) created sui generis (in this theory, the artist is maybe the vehicle of God or Nature) but then creates from out of his/her own mind. This idea of genius is fundamentally ahistorical. It predates the shift in the 19th century to the recognition of our (humanity's) historically affected consciousness -- that what we CAN think is dependent on the culture in which we were raised, on what is possible in that culture. I should note that the idea of 'invention' is relatively new. So too, then, is the distinction between the sui generis invention of the True Artist and the "merely" borrowed. If you look at earlier periods in Western culture, there was only re-working traditional sources. 'Invention' was illicit.

Now, JP, If you are just arguing against the people who believe in a Romantic era idea of genius and creativity, then OK.
But if you are somehow distinguishing what Dylan (and Guthrie, as you say) do from what other artists do (would you say they are more original? That they invent on their own somehow) then I think you are misguided.

Art is reinvention, appropriation.

The only real debate to be had here is an ethical one.

Is Dylan unethical in not acknowledging his sources?
Harmonica and Benny Boy, for instance (and they are the one's I distinctly remember saying something like this), find Dylan's artistic practice unethical. He owes public attribution and acknowledgement. I disagree but fully understand their position.

I (I will not implicate anyone else) think that there is a style in which attribution is not always made, forming a kind of puzzle, but also making a statement that attribution in impossible in that the tradition goes forever backward into the mists of the past. I would admit that I am uneasy with Dylan's allusions when there is a living artist who could use the boost and the money -- as for estate, well, not so much since that involves committing myself to a theory of property and of capitalism I don't feel compelled to accept as natural fact.

Last point, Benny Boy as made appoint that is also valid, but with which I disagree: that if the art relies on one recognizing the references to be enjoyable (as in, "Aha! That is clever, I see what he is doing there.") then it doesn't work as art. That's right. It's just self-indulgent at that point. I don't think songs on LT, for instance, do require that kind of deep knowledge. I think they are beautiful prima facie and that knowing the references makes it even funner. THough not more beautiful, necessarily.


I wholeheartedly agree with this. Excellent post.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 10:27 GMT 
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Johanna Parker wrote:
MDD, I just don't think other artists are interesting enough to be scrutinized like that - maybe people do that for other artists, but perhaps not to the degree they do with Bob.

JP,
Sorry, this is a little long. Just thinking through what you've said.

I've been thinking about this sentence (above) -- I wonder whether you care to take a minute and help me understand it better?

In the mean time, I was thinking about your rejection of 'original' and your preference for the term 'individual'. 'Individual' implies, I think, a separate entity -- something that is the absolute fundamental thing (that can't be broken down any further), the base element. It seems to me that if we take the idea that artists can only take up the tradition, the ideas, elements of their culture and see unseen possibilities in them, then the historical traditions are more fundamental than the individual.

Dylan, surely, is an artist -- in that he created something that transformed his (and our) culture, gave us a new world to live in -- the meaning of things in our lives were transformed by his art, new possibilities, new relationships to things became possible that weren't there for us before. That is, in a a sense, 'original' in that it is the 'origin' of a world. And this is not 'subjective'. It doesn't depend on whether you like Dylan or not. Music, TV, movies, literature, all of it, all creativity (and all cultural production) had to react to the cultural possibilities brought out into the open by Dylan. His songs (the lyrics), his performances, and his persona affected the whole culture. If you don't like Dylan, if you've never heard him, his work still affects you through the rest of the culture (through other creative people in all fields of life). It did more than just state what we already knew. It showed us possibilities that we hadn't recognized from within our world/culture. And now they are givens. His works become the try air that any creative person (and non-creative person) breathes, the material any person works with. Thus, they all 'borrow' from him, consciously or unconsciously.

I think what you meant by the sentence I quoted above was that there aren't other artists (in the sense I describe above) around to be "scrutinized" regarding their sources. That is, there aren't other artists -- though I think you mean in music (?).
Do I have that right? Like I said, I think (as Giada pointed out) that you have to include Louis Armstrong. But there are others that have the kind of broad impact Dylan has had.

Final point in response to your concern with the ethical elements of Dylan's practice: I think part of what people are saying when they defend Dylan's appropriation is that his artistic project changes the value/ the act of appropriation/borrowing, makes it more than just theft. I think that's right most of the time. Sometimes, it's just theft. Why, because it doesn't reach the threshold of art. It doesn't find the unseen possibilities in a work, then express that possibility in a fascinating and transformative way. It just uses something good in a way that trades on it for profit (monetary or reputation/fame).

Well, Maybe we're done with this conversation. But I thought what you had to say was challenging and thought provoking.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 10:34 GMT 
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Jeeps wrote:
MMD wrote:
Last point, Benny Boy as made appoint that is also valid, but with which I disagree: that if the art relies on one recognizing the references to be enjoyable (as in, "Aha! That is clever, I see what he is doing there.") then it doesn't work as art. That's right. It's just self-indulgent at that point. I don't think songs on LT, for instance, do require that kind of deep knowledge. I think they are beautiful prima facie and that knowing the references makes it even funner. THough not more beautiful, necessarily.


I wholeheartedly agree with this. Excellent post.


Thanks. I should also make clear (seeing the post in its entirety again) that I wish I would have seen Giada's correction early enough to edit the post to be clear that Benny Boy levels this criticism at contemporary Dylan writing/composing, as far as I can tell, based on posts of his that I've read. I just wasn't specific enough. I don't want to mischaracterize anyone's positions.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 10:53 GMT 

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MMD wrote:
Johanna Parker wrote:
Because generally it's enough if one person does, why would you want 25.000 people to copy someone? Not that they didn't, anyway.

Wow. Really? So, chrome horse's characterization of your position is right? Someone else would have done it?
You know, there were a lot, a lot, of people actually doing it at the same time, also before Dylan. Same place, same time, same exact source material for most of them: Woody, Cisco, and the Smith Anthology of American Music, same set of source songs they got from one another. Same instruments, same coffee houses, venues. Many the exact same age. Some a little more experienced, some a little less. There were great poets and musicians among them. But...Dylan's songs become the songs of the era, the civil rights movement, sung by African-American choirs in churches, etc.

Look, I'm not really crazy about those early songs -- they're great, I know them well. But they're not my favorites. But still...
I can't think of a single way to defend your position.


The amazing thing about JP is that she comes on like she's the last word in Dylan expertise yet she spends half her time trying to destroy him. Unbelievable. To spend so much time on something and miss the main point is beyond my comprehension. She's supposedly blown away by a guy whom she claims is simply a con artist. Ten to twelve thousand posts later - she still doesn't get it! Wow.

Someone told me JP is German. Maybe it's a cultural thing. She can't accept the fact that a hick from Minnesota just happens to be one of the most gifted people to ever grace this planet. Using other ideas once in a while has zero to do with it. So near but so far.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 11:17 GMT 
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MDD, it's refreshing to get a serious, thoughtful reply to my point of view in this matter, so thanks for that. I'll try to explain it as best I can.

MMD wrote:
In the mean time, I was thinking about your rejection of 'original' and your preference for the term 'individual'. 'Individual' implies, I think, a separate entity -- something that is the absolute fundamental thing (that can't be broken down any further), the base element. It seems to me that if we take the idea that artists can only take up the tradition, the ideas, elements of their culture and see unseen possibilities in them, then the historical traditions are more fundamental than the individual.


Preferring 'individual' over 'original', I was implying that no two people have the exactly same set of influences, not even identical twins. The influence of your upbringing and schooling will never be exactly the same for any two people, as each family member, teacher, friend, etc, will react to the person as a unique being and character - I don't think you can not do this. In a place were everyone gets exposed to the same culture, traditions, media, etc, one will pick and chose according to one's interests, and some things will leave stronger impressions than others. So you come out with an individual take on life, society, etc - as I said above somewhere, take things and filter them back through your own brain. Bob's very good at presenting that which he has digested in this way, in that he reassembles bits and pieces of cultural information into new entities, and he has the platform to do so. We could argue why that is (not many people believed in him after Hammond first signed him) and what went into the building of his legend (he was widely booed in the mid-'60s, and his prolongued silence after the 'accident' seems to have contributed as much to his legendary status as all his words combined). As for the output of his creative artistic mind, in all forms that he works in, there are those that he takes a unique twist to, but also those that he takes pretty much intact out of the work of others and transplants it into his own. By his uniqueness, he choses and reassembles elements, and puts them into a new context.

A very good example for this is what Larry Charles has said about writing the script for Masked & Anonymous with Bob. Apparently, Bob came in with a shoebox full of notes which he dumped on the table - phrases, couplets, lines - which they then started to arrange as dialogue. I read somewhere that those notes where the leftovers of writing "Love And Teft" the previous year, an album which Columbia asked him to come up with so as to not let the career revival after TOOM slide, four years later. In any way, it's well known that "LAT" is a patchwork of recycled lines and melodies, and though M&A is far less known to the general public, work has been done sourcing the dialogue - read scottw's blog. So I take it that Bob reads widely (at least on tour there must be lots of time to spend for someone who doesn't get to go out much), watches movies, listens to music - I think Jeff Rosen runs an archive for him of early filmed blues and roots music that he can access on the road - and jots down notes and then puts them to use in his work.

MDD wrote:
I think what you meant by the sentence I quoted above was that there aren't other artists (in the sense I describe above) around to be "scrutinized" regarding their sources. That is, there aren't other artists -- though I think you mean in music (?).
Do I have that right? Like I said, I think (as Giada pointed out) that you have to include Louis Armstrong. But there are others that have the kind of broad impact Dylan has had.


No, I'd never say there are no other artists! :shock: Of course there are. What I was saying is that from a Dylan freak point of view, it's easy to know of the obsessive scrutinizing of his work. I don't know if the same has been done about, say, the Beatles. There certainly must be books about their lyrics, but as much as with Bob? I never doubted anyone's impact either, all I said was that if we use Bob for an example, it's clear that you can have a huge impact even if large chunks of your creations didn't spring from your own mind.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 11:31 GMT 
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@Mr high horse:

chrome horse wrote:
The amazing thing about JP is that she comes on like she's the last word in Dylan expertise yet she spends half her time trying to destroy him. Unbelievable. To spend so much time on something and miss the main point is beyond my comprehension. She's supposedly blown away by a guy whom she claims is simply a con artist. Ten to twelve thousand posts later - she still doesn't get it! Wow.

Someone told me JP is German. Maybe it's a cultural thing. She can't accept the fact that a hick from Minnesota just happens to be one of the most gifted people to ever grace this planet. Using other ideas once in a while has zero to do with it. So near but so far.


I'm not trying to destoy him, neither could I. His legacy is firmly in place, and rightly so. As to whether or not I "get it" - isn't it a pretty big assumption you should be the one who has the clues? You don't - you hold an opinion in the same way that I do. No more and no less valid.

Yes, I am German - as if that has anything to do with anything. (How's your knowledge of German culture and language coming along?) One thing I hope we can agree on as fact is that US and UK (and generally English language) artists have the advantage not only of a vast native English language audience, but the bonus of another vast audience of second language listeners / readers. It's much easier to become a worldwide phenomenon if more people understand your words, esp if you have a quite acquired taste singing style.

I never doubted Bob's gift, it appears I just define it differently than you do. As for 'once in a while', be so kind and point out an album or book or movie in which he didn't use others' ideas.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 11:37 GMT 

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Johanna Parker wrote:
he was widely booed in the mid-'60s, and his prolongued silence after the 'accident' seems to have contributed as much to his legendary status as all his words combined


Exhibit A in my claim that this wind bag just doesn't get it. His "silence" in the mid 60's is as important "as all his words combined".
Thank you so much JP. You just saved me a lot of words. I owe you big time.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 12:08 GMT 
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So you deny that if the accident had been fatal, his legend would still be firmly in place?
Oh, and you were going to show me some of his original work.... an album he didn't borrow on.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 12:12 GMT 
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You watch, this'll be another one that makes 15 pages of gloop before the weekend's out, if some of these turgid exchanges continue apace- wasted words prove to warn...


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 12:24 GMT 
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Btw, any of you read Goethe?


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 12:37 GMT 

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Johanna Parker wrote:
Btw, any of you read Goethe?


She's very well read, it's well known.

And -

"So you deny that if the accident had been fatal, his legend would still be firmly in place?
Oh, and you were going to show me some of his original work.... an album he didn't borrow on."

No doubt you weren't alive then, and your ignorance is monumental. He was legend and worldwide phenomena BEFORE the accident - his place in history was firmly established.

And I wasn't going to show you anything - don't put words in my mouth. Your nonstop attempts to trivialize the huge contribution Bob Dylan has made to mankind is beyond sickening - especially coming from a supposed expert and fan.

And I'm still trying to figure out who, other than you, decided you were the last word on evaluating Bob Dylan.


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PostPosted: Sun June 10th, 2012, 12:52 GMT 
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Who said I was? I just said I was entitled to my opinion. You're free not to read it - put me on 'foe' in your profile. Where, other than being born earlier, do you take the authority from to tell me what would be the right thing to think? It's telling enough that you should blame what you consider my faults on my origins, and decide to either ignore or try to ridicule my questions for your foreign cultural knowledge that should put you into any position to judge me.


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