Dylan-Joni Mitchell feud

by elmergantry

Rather surprisingly, much of the commentary on Joni Mitchell’s (admittedly over the top) remarks on Dylan and plagiarism tends to skate over the fact that they were probably influenced by a statement which Dylan himself made to her. She referred to these in an interview she did with Morrissey some time ago:

” I know Dylan said to me at one point that he, you know, he couldn’t write anymore, and I said, “Oh, what about this and what about that?” And he said, “Oh, the box wrote it.” I said, “What do you mean ‘the box’?” He said, “I write down things from movies and things I’ve heard people say and I throw them in the box.” I
said, “I don’t care where you got your bits and pieces; you still put them all together.”

The important line here, I think is Dylan’s plain admission that his borrowing began at a point where ‘he couldn’t write anymore’. This admission of suffering from writer’s block is very different from his claim in the Rolling Stone interview that ‘borrowing’ is simply something songwriters do…

Unlike Woody Guthrie, for example, who often borrowed the melodies for his songs from people like the Carter family, but generally wrote his own lyrics to those tunes,in recent times Dylan has appropriated both words & music…