Does Joni Mitchell Really Believe Bob Dylan Is A “Plagiarist”?

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Joni Mitchell is apparently not a huge fan of Bob Dylan, the artist many folks compare her to.

In a 2010 interview with the LA Times, she let loose her words of fire.


“Bob is not authentic at all,” she said after the interviewer compared her to Dylan. “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.”

The two stars have played many shows together, including in 1975 on the Rolling Thunder Revue tour, The Band’s 1976 The Last Waltz tour, at the 1994 UNESCO concert in Japan, and in 1998 shared tour with Dylan and Van Morrison.

Did something happen during one of those tours?

They did share a microphone once, and she said, “[Dylan] never brushes his teeth, so his breath was like … right in my face.”

Another reason Mitchell might lack love for Dylan is that he allegedly pretended to fall asleep and snore while listening to her album Court and Spark — while she was present.


However, a few years after that initial interview with the LA Times, she clarified what she had meant. And she put partial blame on the interviewer, whom she called “an asshole.”

“I hate doing interviews with stupid people, and this guy’s a moron,” she told CBC.

Then she backed up her original comments about Dylan, but this time with nicer words.

“I like a lot of Bob’s songs, though musically he’s not very gifted,” she said. “He’s borrowed his voice from old hillbillies. He’s got a lot of borrowed things. He’s not a great guitar player. He’s invented a character to deliver his songs. Sometimes I wish that I could have that character — because you can do things with that character. It’s a mask of sorts.”

So things don’t seem hostile between the two songwriters, as Mitchell’s first comments made it seem.

But we probably won’t be seeing a Mitchell-Dylan tour anytime soon.

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Caleb Murphy is a musician who writes about music. His writing appears in Consequence Of Sound, Pittsburgh City Paper, and some other cool places. He blogs about music at calebjmurphy.com.
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