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Bob Dylan Responds to Jonah Lehrer - VICE Exclusive

"The worst thing that could ever happen to me would be for some egregious and low-moralled hack to pass off his words as my own."

by Bob Dylan
Aug 1 2012, 4:00pm

On Monday, a journalist named Jonah Lehrer resigned from his position at The New Yorker after he was called out for fabricating quotes which he attributed to Bob Dylan. Now, Mr. Dylan responds to his resignation in an exclusive interview with VICE.

I'm telling ya man, you shouldn't make up quotes. Not from me. The worst thing anyone could ever do to old Bob here would be for some slick journalist imposter to try to pass off his words as my own; some egregious and low-moralled hack sat around inwardly creaming himself at having vocalized something Bob would never have said IRL, ya get me?

I guess I coulda said all of those things. I guess I coulda said a lotta things. I guess I did say a lotta things. Sometimes a lotta things need saying. So you say a lotta things. I'm confused, but the point was basically that you shouldn't have made up that quote where I predicted wi-fi. Alright, I may have intimated that something very much like wi-fi was going to happen in the surrounding interviews for my 1967 album John Wesley Harding. But that was just press talk, you know. Banter. Bants. And I believe my prediction explained wi-fi as more of "a system of tubes bearing worldwide messages from all the countries of the globe, sharing ideas and creating meaning in perfect harmony." Not, as you misquoted in your book: “Any wireless local area network (WLAN) products that are based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) 802.11 standards.”

That was mean, man. And my reputation has suffered. People are coming to me now from ISO, asking me to validate global protocols for wireless connectivity. I don't know shit about global protocols for wireless connectivity. I have to tell some of the top research universities in the world to go fuck themselves twice a day now and it's working on my nerves man. I'm jangling.

Of course, if it had been just that, I could have accepted, reconciled, moved on. But we all know it wasn't. You certainly shouldn't have told everyone that I'd said to you I could only fall asleep by masturbating to pictures of former US Foreign Secretary Warren Christopher. Even someone as fact-happy as yourself should have realized it says Tony Danza in the official blog for the new record. And the blurb on the back of your book, "'A shoe-in for the Nobel Prize'—Bob Dylan," was taken out of context. I was addressing a rally of Hungarian neo-Nazis at the time, and you know full well I wasn't speaking about you in particular, man, just any scientist capable of rolling out a worthwhile eugenics program to clean up the streets.

There's this bit that's been bandied about in the press, where you took a quote from Don't Look Back: "I just write them. There's no great message." And added a third sentence of your own: "Stop asking me to explain." Well there was your first beginner's mistake, my friend. Because I never add third sentences to any of my quotes underlining and expanding the two sentences that have gone before them. I let those two sentences stand and fall on their own merit. Third sentences are not what Bob Dylan's about. A third sentence is like a guy with three legs or something.

As much as you've pissed me off, I guess I have some sympathy. I mean, we've all plagiarized shit when we've been in a tight hole. For instance, I made up my entire output from 1975 through 1981 by taking The Best Of Creedence Clearwater Revival and changing every C chord to a D minor. The lyrics I wrote by underlining passages from Sidney Sheldon novels and reading them backwards. No one seemed to give much of a shit, and if I'm honest, neither did I. It was the 70s, you know? We were idiots. We voted for Carter, for Christ's sake. Well, I didn't. I went out grenade fishing that day. But I instructed all the staff in my house to.

As relayed to Gavin Haynes—follow that guy on Twitter: @hurtgavinhaynes

Bob Dylan
The New Yorker
Vice Blog
Jonah Lehrer
making up quotes