“Bob Dylan is a Plagiarist and a Fake.”

Here’s something. Joni Mitchell was being interviewed by the LA Times in conjunction with actor John Kelly, who portrays her in a play called ‘Paved Paradise: The Art of Joni Mitchell.’

Everything seemed to be going great until page two, when the interviewer drew a comparison between Ms. Mitchell née Anderson, and one Robert Dylan née Zimmerman:

LAT: As well, you’ve had experience becoming a character outside yourself [Mitchell caused controversy when she appeared as an African American male on the cover of her 1977 album, “Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter”].The folk scene you came out of had fun creating personas. You were born Roberta Joan Anderson, and someone named Bobby Zimmerman became Bob Dylan.

JM: Bob is not authentic at all. He’s a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I.

As for my name, my parents wanted a boy, so they called me Robert John; when I came out a girl, they just added two letter A’s to that. Then I married Chuck Mitchell; I wanted to keep my maiden name — I had a bit of a following as Joni Anderson — but he wouldn’t let me.

Oh. Well. What immediately comes to mind is, who knew Joni Mitchell was so grudgy?

But then there is the artistic inspiration that can come from such a revealing remark. And so, 68Comeback Theatre presents to you, the readers, our new play-in-two-lines, entitled: Wherein Bob Gets the News.

(Person speaking to Bob Dylan, running into the room, newspaper in hand, breathing hard as though he/she had run a long way to get there) “Bob, Bob, did you hear what Joni Mitchell said about you? She says you’re a plagiarist and a fake!”

(Bob Dylan, looking up from building a birdhouse or something) “Hunh? Who? Oh, her?” (goes back to whatever he was doing).

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    • Tom
    • April 26th, 2010

    She’s been a curmudgeon for years; I think she never got over the grievous insult of Chalkmark in a Rainstorm not outselling Thriller.

      • 68comeback
      • April 26th, 2010

      Sure, okay, but what did you think of the play?

    • Tom
    • April 26th, 2010

    Too derivative of Tom Stoppard.

      • 68comeback
      • April 26th, 2010

      Okay. Fair enough (takes moment to write Tom’s name down on ‘the list’). Let’s seeee…how about Dylan’s interlocutor is carrying an iPad, via which he e-mails the same question?

      Dylan does not answer the question because he never receives the e-mail, but he looks up at the same time it would otherwise have appeared in his inbox and says, “I got a million friends!”

    • Rachel
    • April 26th, 2010

    I loved your play. Really rang true for me. And I love that she said that. I don’t have anything against Bob Dylan per se, I’m just totally digging everything about Joni Mitchell right now and hating that bastard she married. I just got to a heartbreaking juncture in *Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and the Journey of a Generation* this morning, so it’s awesome to see her grumbling loudly and shit talking people.

      • craig
      • April 27th, 2010

      I didn’t know that about Joni Mitchell and, me being a man, the thought had probably not ever crossed my mind until I read it. I thought the way it read in the printed version was kind of weird and I wondered if that exchange, and the abrupt change of topic away from it, were how the interview actually went.
      I like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell the same way as I like anyone who had produced a body of work before I became conscious of their existence. Mine is the liberty of picking and choosing. I like that she said that about him, but it’s also a well-established point. Looked at from just the right angle, maybe it’s something that’s directed more toward the interviewer, where it’s all in the subtext, ie., ‘Oh aren’t you clever! I changed my name, just like Bob Dylan changed his, except while his was pure artifice and personal choice, mine was NOT.’
      I’m feeling like writing a prequel to the play, involving Steve Earle.

    • Rachel
    • April 27th, 2010

    Nice prequel! I hadn’t heard that Steve Earle quote before, it’s great. Re: Chuck Mitchell, to be fair, the book is circumspect about the exact degree to which he could be considered a bastard. But I’d say at best he was controlling and condescending. At worst, he was domineering, belittling, and he forced her to give her baby up for adoption. And I haven’t even gotten to the part where she divorces him yet.

  1. April 30th, 2010
  2. May 24th, 2011

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