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Dylan's use of Trad music?

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GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 11 May 00 - 03:06 PM
TheOldMole 11 May 00 - 03:11 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 11 May 00 - 03:18 PM
Midchuck 11 May 00 - 03:25 PM
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Subject: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:06 PM

According to the "borrowing" entry of the Folkie's Dictionary Bob Dylan has based some of his work on traditional tunes.

Is there anyone on-list who knows the Dylan songs in question, and who can verify or qualify the information of the Folkie's Dictionary ? I hardly know any Dylan songs.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: TheOldMole
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:11 PM

"Leaving of Liverpool" became Dylan's ...what did he call it? "It's not the leavin' that's a grievin' me..."

"Joe Hill" became "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine"


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:18 PM

According to the dictionary entry (will that blue clicky come through as intended ? ) "Leaving of Liverpool" became "Fare thee Well Gulf of Mexico".

Have you heard both songs ? Would you say the relationship was (1) obvious; (2) something only a musicologist could detect; (3) nonexistent; or (4) other ?

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Midchuck
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:25 PM

(1)

It isn't true, however, that Dylan pirated all his melodies from folk songs.

He pirated a number of them from commercial country songs.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:32 PM

"Lord Franklin" became "Bob Dylan's Dream," on The Freewheeling Bob Dylan (his second album). He also borrowed the tunes for "Song For Woody" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," but I can't recall from where.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Midchuck
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:33 PM

DTTIAR was formerly a country song called "Understand Your Man," which I don't recall who wrote, but I know Johnny Cash, for one, recorded.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Amergin
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:37 PM

I think he also borrowed Patriot Game for one or so of his songs possibly (but am not sure) Spanish Boots.

Amergin


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:40 PM

Midchuck, thanks for the feedback.

I don't consider it infringement, or so-called "piracy" to copy from the public domain. The P.D. is meant to be copied, after all.

If a songwriter adapts a p.d. melody and then tries, in intention or in effect, to enforce copyright in the underlying melody (not just in the copyrightable adaptations, if any) -- that practice strikes me as ironic.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Midchuck
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:40 PM

No. With God On Our Side. I'd forgotten that one, one of the most blatant.

P.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:40 PM

Amergin, "Patriot Game" became "With God On Our Side". Thanks for the reminder.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:42 PM

Another simultaneous answer -- we're all getting good at this, aren't we?


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Amergin
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:43 PM

Ok, thanks, couldn't remember.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:46 PM

Here are some of the derivations listed in the above-linked dictionary entry:

Bob Dylan's Dream - Lady Franklin's Lament
Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall - Lord Randall
Masters of War - Nottamun Town
Fare Thee Well (Gulf of Mexico) - Leaving of Liverpool
Ballad of Hollis Brown - Poor Man
Farewell, Angelina - Farewell to Tarwathie*
I Pity the Poor Immigrant - Tramps and Hawkers

I'm hoping that there are Mudcatters who have heard both melodies of each pair, and can evaluate the extent of borrowing, as Midchuck did.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:53 PM

Dylan's use of traditional melodies for new songs has long been part of the folk tradition. Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams and lots of others were doing it long before Dylan. Tom Paxton, Richard Farina, Tom Russell and lots of others have done it since.

Pete Seeger quotes Woody Guthrie's comments about another songwriter: "He stole that from me, but I steal from everybody."

In an earlier message, Whistle Stop mentioned Dylan's "Song To Woody," but wasn't sure where Dylan took that melody from. It was Woody's "1913 Massacre."

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Songster Bob
Date: 11 May 00 - 04:36 PM

"Don't Think Twice" is actually not so close to "Stand By Your Man," as it is to a Paul Clayton song called (I think) "Who's Gonna Buy You Ribbons When I'm Gone?" I think Clayton rewrote an obscure country/folk song and Dylan swiped from him. Edd Trickett sings the Clayton song on his latest CD.

Others of many folk-song connections with Dylan (some duplicates from above may occur, I'm not going back to make sure):

Hard Rain's Gonna Fall = Jimmy Randall (Lord Randall) Girl of the North Country = Cambric Shirt Song To Woody = 1913 Massacre (Guthrie) Masters Of War = Nottamun Town (Jean Ritchie) To Ramona = Soldier's Last letter (40s country song?) It Ain't Me Babe = Stand By Your Man (?)(Aha!)

I went to a good discography site

(http://www.discographynet.com/dylan/dylan.html)

And looked at all the titles, but, not being interested in Dylan when most of his records were released, can't mentally hum very many of the tunes, so can't say if this is all, but I'd guess not by a long shot.

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 11 May 00 - 04:55 PM

Here's a web site I found that examines some of these connections in detail.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Midchuck
Date: 11 May 00 - 05:05 PM

Okiemockbird said:

"I don't consider it infringement, or so-called "piracy" to copy from the public domain. The P.D. is meant to be copied, after all.

If a songwriter adapts a p.d. melody and then tries, in intention or in effect, to enforce copyright in the underlying melody (not just in the copyrightable adaptations, if any) -- that practice strikes me as ironic."

When you write a song with a traditional melody and new lyrics by yourself (which in itself is fine with me, done it my own self), and record it, the honest thing to do (IMO) is put the credits on the record as: "Lyrics: (You); Melody: Trad: (orig. title)>" I don't recall Mr. Zimmerman ever doing so.

Maybe I missed something.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 11 May 00 - 05:08 PM

Frankly, I think his use of traditional tunes without giving credit to his sources (folks like Jean Ritchie for "Nottamun Town" for example) was atrocious.

Sandy (still grumpy after all these years, but then, I'm an admitted old folk fogey)


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Peter T.
Date: 11 May 00 - 05:24 PM

It was Dave van Ronk who, on a recent album, referred to Dylan as the Ogden Nash of our time. A little retribution for indignities suffered.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 11 May 00 - 05:33 PM

Midchuck, I suspect we agree for the most part. Your use of the word "piracy" suggested a copyright law context: "piracy" usually means copyright infringement (I think it's a terrible word. Piracy strictly so-called is an atrocious crime. Copyright infringement is simply a violation of an arbitrary regulatory scheme, like moonshining.) I was merely pointing out that, if there is no copyright, there is no infringement.

The question of giving credit is not always clear-cut. At least in cases where there is no chance of confusion (George M. Cohan's use of "Auld Lang Syne" in "You're a Grand Old Flag") I don't see any need for explicit citation. But I prefer, as you and Sandy do, to document my sources clearly. (One gripe I have against the copyright office is that the registration forms don't allow room to do this properly--would it be so hard for them to allow us to attach a single extra page showing the p.d. version of the melody ?--"here's the trad. tune, here are my changes"--their paperwork wouldn't increase by much, and the extent of the copyright claims would be much clearer. End of gripe.)

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 11 May 00 - 05:53 PM

Sandy,

Not that I think Dylan needs me to defend him, but...

If you're going to chastise Dylan for using traditional melodies without attribution, you have to do the same to Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Utah Phillips, Lead Belly, Brownie McGhee, and many, many others.

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 11 May 00 - 05:55 PM

One Dylan biography discussed Dylan's recording of Van Ronks version of "House of the Rising Sun" sans permission, so everybody thinks it's Dylan's arrangement. Van Ronk later said he owed Bobby so much he didn't hold it agin him. So it's interesting to read the above Ogden Nash comment. Can I assume it refers to Ogden Nash as a famous curmudgeon?


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: raredance
Date: 11 May 00 - 10:43 PM

"Blowin' In the Wind" is heavily borrowed from "No More Auction Block". There is an early recording of Dylan doing No More Auction Block where the connection is pretty clear.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: richardw
Date: 11 May 00 - 10:50 PM

Sandy has the gist of it--not giving credit to his sources.

We have just completed a recording project using 1860s music. Much of it was written in the BC goldfields using traditional tunes. But, the authors always said, Air: Green Grow the Rashes Oh; or Tune: The Mousetrap Man.

Dylan's mistake was in never giving credit. But then neither did the folks who wrote the MTA Song,(sung by the Kingston Trio) which is a copy in tune, theme and many words of The Ship that Never returned, written between 1850 and 80.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 11 May 00 - 11:00 PM

When Pete used Jim Waters' tune for the "Great Silkie" for his setting of the poem "I Come and Stand at Every Door," he thought he was using a traditional tune. The moment he learned it was written by Waters, he made a point of informing Columbia and others. Dylan, for all his creative contributions, did claim Words and Music by Bob Dylan on many songs when only the words were his. To me, there is a difference. Guthrie may have been naive in his use of some Carter Family tunes, but often the tunes had not actually originated with the Carter Family either ("Oh, My Loving Fathers," for example, which was the basic tune for "This Land is Your Land"). I don't know the Paxton examples you refer to; Utah Phillips, when we talked with him years ago, was not copyrighting his song material, as he didn't believe in "owning" it (more of a political action than a theft, if the tune was borrowed). Leadbelly was, perhaps, innocently (?) led by example into allowing sophisticated publishers to copyright much of what he sang. Clearly, he claimed authorship of material he didn't actually create, but John A. Lomax, his mentor, was claiming ownership of a lot of traditional material at the same time.

I'll admit it's a can of worms, and I generally try to avoid these discussions, but there was something deliberately deceptive about Dylan's claims of "words and music" on all those early songs (the ones that formed the basis of his storied reputation) that offended my sense of propriety. Still does. How costly would it have been to simply say "tune: traditional; new words by Bob Dylan?"

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: catspaw49
Date: 11 May 00 - 11:13 PM

I get your point Sandy and I agree. There are a ton of stories floating around about Dylan's "drive" to make it big. Plus, its really common to hear someone or another tell of hearing Bob do one for them and immediately recognizing it. Most of this is pretty standard fare in folk, but your point regarding his lack of credit and taking all credit is quite true. I think Bob wrote some great words, sorry he didn't give some credit to the original tune, wherever it cam from.....which reminds me.........

We ran a thread awhile back on "Lay Down Your Weary Tune"....a song I really like and everybody (including me) believed it came from a hymn.......Know anything on this one? Sandy? Mike? Anybody?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 11 May 00 - 11:40 PM

Well, I went and bought a Dylan CD (it was on sale) and the sleeve notes and credits are just as they were in 1963. If you read carefully you will discover that "Bob Dylan's Dream", "Honey, Just Allow me One More Chance", and "Corrina, Coririna" aren't fully original in both words and/or music, but there's nothing in the notes to "Girl from the North Country" or "Masters of War" to indicate Dylan's sources. One must discover those sources for oneself.

I find annoying his affected vocal style and his rhythmic imprecision. He seems good at writing, or in some cases re-writing words, though, and when he works from what I know, or suspect, is a traditional tune, he picks a good one.

The tune to "Masters of War" is certainly "Nottamun Town". It seems very close to what I remember of the Ritchie version, and it's also very close to "Fair Nottiman Town", the version that appeared in Wyman and Brockway's Twenty Kentucky Mountain Songs, Oliver Ditson, Boston, 1920, pp. 6-9, which I quote here. In W&B it was set in D-sharp minor. I've put it formally in D-dorian, but since the air is pentatonic (D, F, G, A, C) it can be harmonized in D-minor (with B-flat) also.

X: 1
T: Fair Nottiman Town
C: Kentucky Traditional. Wyman and Brockway, Twenty Kentucky Mountain Songs, Boston, Oliver Ditson, 1920.
M: 3/8
K: C
L: 1/8
z2 D | F2 D | F2 G | A c c | A2 G | (A c) c |
d2 c/A/ | dc c | A2 G | A G A | c A G |
F D D | F2 G | A G A | c A G | F C C | D3 ||

Thanks, everyone, for the thoughts & comments.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 12 May 00 - 12:02 AM

Sandy,

There are other Pete Seeger songs that borrow melodies from traditional songs and are credited as Seeger compositions. "Quite Early Morning," which takes its tune from "Lonesome Valley," comes to mind.

One of Tom Paxton's uses of a traditional melody that comes to mind is "Katy," which uses the tune from "The Rites of Man."

The period when Utah Phillips was not copyrighting his songs was fairly brief. He changed his mind when he realized that record companies, etc. would just be keeping the songwriting royalty money for themselves. For example, Emmylou Harris' recording of "Green Rolling Hills" at the the height of her commercial popularity would have generated thousands of dollars in income.

Like you, I generally avoid these discussions as well. But I decided to jump in because one person in particular is being taken to task for doing something that was a common practice in folk music long before he did it.

BTW, one of the most gorgeous songs of the last couple of years is "Cut By Wire," co-written by John Gorka and Geoff Bartley. John hasn't released his version yet, but it's on a Geoff Bartley album and also on Mary Black's new album. Its tune is from "Bob Dylan's Dream," I mean "Lady Franklin's Lament."

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 May 00 - 12:03 AM

Thanks my ass T!!!! We all agreed and knew about that one......What about "Lay Down Your Weary Tune?" C'mon now, somebody must have an idea here. Let's not leave it here. I mean like..... Where's the love for the Spaw?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 12 May 00 - 08:36 AM

Thanks, folks, for remidning me that "Song to Woody" is sung to the tune of Woody's "1913 Massacre". Which was probably sung to a tune borrowed from somewhere else, since Woody was as prone to this as Dylan.

I have a great deal of admiration for Bob Dylan, and think the harsh criticism of him for borrowing melodies is unjust. What he has done is common in this genre, and his failure to fully identify the sources of all his melodies is also quite common. Some of them he may have known consciously, some he probably adapted unconsciously, but he probably thought it was no big deal in either event. Frankly, a lot of folk melodies resemble one another closely, whether or not they are identical in all respects. I have seen no evidence that Dylan has tried to assume ownership of the melodies he borrowed and prevent others from using them. That would be unethical, but simply adopting/adapting melodies that were already blowing in the folk winds is not, in my opinion. [Similarly, as far as I'm concerned Van Ronk's arrangement of "House of the Rising Sun" was not so unique and individual that it warranted direct attribution.]

As for Spaw's veiled criticism of Dylan's "'drive' to make it big," I find nothing wrong with that whatsoever. Most of us try to succeed in our chosen careers; more power to Bob for succeeding in his.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 12 May 00 - 08:50 AM

Spaw,

As I sit here at the computer, I just started to sing "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" off the top of my head. In hearing myself sing (something I would not want to inflict on you), it occurs to me that it was probably based on "The Water Is Wide."

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 12 May 00 - 09:10 AM

Sheesh, 'Spaw, maybe everyone else "knew" about that one, but I never heard "Masters of War" until last night. I posted the Lyman & Brockway version of "Fair Nottiman Town" because I thought some might appreciate seeing another variant of that melody.

Whistle-Stop, I don't think many of us, if any at all, are finding fault with Dylan for using and adapting old tunes. As I mentioned earlier, I think that is what those old tune are for: the public domain exists to be copied. But someone who copies an old tune doesn't take anything from himself by being up front about where he got the melody. Instead he gives to all of us a gift of his new version, a gift of respect (since he doesn't seem to be trying to mislead) and, to those who didn't know the old tune, a gift of knowledge about our common musical inheritance.

I get the impression from Oscar Brand's book The Ballad Mongers that there was a period when performers were pressured into claiming full authorship of traditional material, in order to provide an additional layer of legal defence for the broadcasters and others. Brand Wrote:

"If I were to sing 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' on a program, the 'music clearance' department would insist on knowning the name of some book or publisher who would be willing to claim authorship."

I find "musical borrowing" a fascinating area of study.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Barbara
Date: 12 May 00 - 10:08 AM

Back in the 60s I was a big Bob Dylan fan. Later on, when my knowledge of folk broadened, I was shocked to find the earlier versions of songs I thought Dylan had written. I think Patriot Game was the one I found first, and then Leaving of Liverpool.
What troubled me was not just lifting of the tune (lotsa folks do that) but at the same time the lifting of the structure and message of the words, changing only a few (and often ineptly). And I suspect that the tune only changed where Dylan lacked the skill to sing the original.

Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 12 May 00 - 10:22 AM

Barbara, did it trouble you that Dylan re-wrote traditional words at all ? Or that he didn't acknowledge his sources ?

For myself, I think Dylan is to be commended for building on the tradition (even if I don't always like the results), whether it was traditional words, music, or both that he used. But like others in this thread, I have mixed feelings about artists' stealth-development of the tradition. If I build on traditional words and tunes and my music is confined to a small circle where everyone recognizes my borrowings without being told, then citing my sources may not be necessary. But it's hard to keep music "confined". So in cases where I knowingly use old stuff I try to be clear about it. At least, I think I try to.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Steve Latimer
Date: 12 May 00 - 10:45 AM

I have seen many Dylan songs listed as either Bob Dylan/Tradtional or Bob Dylan and the original author if he changed lyrics.

What about blues? I mean how many variations are there on 12 Bar? Very few, should they all be listed as Taj Mahal or Johnny Winter or Stevie Ray Vaughan etc./traditional? I don't think so.

Borrowing traditional melodies is part of the folk process.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Grandma Marshall
Date: 12 May 00 - 11:11 AM

We OLDER folkies was there when Dylan began his life as a performer and his adoration of Woody G. encompassed visiting Woody as he lay dying of Huntingdon's disease. Before he went commercial, Dylan was a folkie. It's sometimes impossible to separate what is in your head as an original tune if you are an active singer/player of music. I hear popular songs (commercial) that are absolute copies (not just a few bars) of Hymns I knew as a child. The important question though is, can an original tune that you create USE another tunes 8 bars legally or is it infringment? That was the old idea: use 8 bars to open your song with, but make sure you don't BORROW anymore! How about this idea: make a song that uses only 8 bars of a number of songs and call it your! Any one going to try this one?


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 12 May 00 - 11:40 AM

Grandma M, (may I call you "Babushka" ?) in the days before musical copyright musicians gleefully rummaged around in each others' work for musical ideas. Nowadays we can still rummage all we like after the copyrights expire. I think this would strike a reasonable balance if the term of copyright in pre-1978 published works weren't set to a ridiculously over-long 95 years.

I'm not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, just private opinion: From what I've been able to discover, there is no "8-bar rule". Almost any copying of what is "original" might be actionable (though in some circumstances, hard to predict beforehand, it might be defensible as "fair use"). This of course, simply raises the question of what is "original". In one legal case, George Harrison was found liable for infringement because of his use of two simple musical motives in "My Sweet Lord". As I read, it wasn't the motives themselves that infringed, but his repeating them a certain number of times in a certain order which was held to infringe on a nearly identical set of repetitions in an older song, "He's So Fine". Maybe the offending passage was more than 8 bars, but the length of a bar is fairly arbitrary anyhow.

What's more, Harrison was found to have infringed unconsciously. So if you have lots of music running around in your head which you draw on, make sure it's public domain music! If it's copyrighted music, make sure you draw only on its uncopyrightable features.

Can you name some of the commercial songs you have heard that are "absolute copies" of hymns? Other than Paul Simon's "American Tune", I mean, (that is the name of the Simon tune in question, isn't it ?) which draws on Han Leo Hassler's "Herzlich tut mich verlanen" as modified by J.S. Bach. And there are the songs from the musical "Godspell" that use old words, though not old tunes: "We plow the fields and scatter", "Day by Day", "Turn back O Man", and "When wilt thou save the people." Those I know about, but if you know of others, I'd be interested in learning of them.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 12 May 00 - 11:54 AM

Sandy,

I don't think I ever mentioned that I used Gordon Bok's traditional P.D. (I hope) tune from "Johnny Todd" when I wrote "That's The Ticket". To me, it was so obvious I had done that that I never got around to mentioning it in the notes to our LP. As an old highschool teacher used to tell me, "Thieme, you're just a slovenly gump." Well, I never did attend much to details. But I suspect that if my lrics had made a large amount of cash for me instead of the zero, zilch, nada amount it has generated, I suspect my name would be in a thread similar to this one. As it stands, I never did protect the song. Just didn't bother. It was, "too much monkey business for me to be involved in." -- to borrow a line from Chuck Berry.

Art


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: zander (inactive)
Date: 12 May 00 - 12:01 PM

When Bob Dylan first came to London he met Martin Carthy who taught Dylan a lot of song which Dylan used as his own , as did Paul Simon. regards ,Dave


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 12 May 00 - 12:04 PM

Maybe I should clarify that I didn't start the thread in order to criticize Dylan for his musical borrowing or his laxness in identifying his sources. I just wanted some help verifying the source-identifications I found on another web site. I'm glad the thread has evolved into a discussion the practicalities and etiquette of musical borrowing, but it wasn't the founding motivation.

A good bibliography of scholarly studies of musical borrowing is here. There's no mention of Dylan (or much of any 20th-century popular music) but you still get some fascinating citations if you type "folk" or "contrafactum" (or "contrafacta") in their site-search engine.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 12 May 00 - 12:56 PM

According to this, Jean Ritchie has collected royalties from Bob Dylan for "Nottamun Town", even though, as I read, her copyright only applies to the additional lyrics that she wrote.

I suspect bonnie Jean is overreaching in her claims.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 12 May 00 - 01:31 PM

Steve Latimer writes: "Borrowing traditional melodies is part of the folk process." Perhaps, when folk music was something passed along by oral/aural transmission and sung on back porches instead of on stages, folks felt free to dip into the melodic stream that flowed around them. that was "borrowing." Taking a tune that is the property of all of the inheritors of the tradition (us), and then claiming ownership by copyright, is NOT part of the folk process. When "art" becomes "commodity," the process is something else entirely and invites exploitation.

I knew I should have avoided this thread!

Sandy (folk fogey)


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 12 May 00 - 02:21 PM

The first person IIRC who took out copyrights on traditional folksongs was John Lomax. To this day I can still remember hearing Michael Cooney playing and singing Fannin Street with twelve-string guitar and sounding anAWFUL lot like Leadbelly and doing a verse which Leadbelly never would have done: If anybody asks you Who composed this song
Tell 'em it was Huddie Ledbetter, he has been here and gone
If anybody asks you Who copyrighted this one
Tell em it was Mr. John A Lomax and his Goddam son


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 12 May 00 - 03:15 PM

Th only thing--apart from the fact that I never cared for Dylan--is that on every Dylan song you'll see a copyright on words and music. Someone pointed out once that Dylan draws on trditional folkmusic the way that small boys draw on bathroom walls.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 May 00 - 03:40 PM

That's a great line Dick...and I like Dylan, but its true....and I'm sorry T, that wasn't how I meant it. My apologies.

The thing is that for whatever reason, probably money, he failed to give credit where due and claimed things not rightfully his. I'd say he was probably the "watershed" there too, since before, eventhough it was done, it was more part of the natural/oral/aural process that Sandy so well describes. He saw Woody do it, but Dylan took it to a new level.

But we're busting his chops on a few issues that aren't really true to me. If you use a trad tune for instance, then the flow and pattern of the words are apt to be similar to the original. Also, the updating of a tale is not unknown and falls in with a normal process. What is tough to deny is that Dylan is one helluva wordsmith, and although he stole and pirated the base for "Bob Dylan's Dream," the song really speaks strongly to many of us from the 60's as we age.

Whatever his original motives and desires were, its obvious after he got to New York that at one point, fame and bucks started to grow into his motives to a much larger degree.

NOW----WHO KNOWS SOMETHING ABOUT THE ROOTS (if any) OF "LAY DOWN YOUR WEARY TUNE?"......Spaw asked again.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 12 May 00 - 03:46 PM

Spaw,

Scroll up to my message of 8:50 this morning.

MR


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 May 00 - 04:18 PM

Well damn Mike...I am sorry. I started where I thought I'd left off before and was actually two posts down from that. Give me the Incredible Dumbass Award. Sorry Mike. Just missed it completely.

Water is Wide is a good possibility I think. If I play with it a little I see how it can work. I'm going to go look for our old thread and throw your idea into it later. Thanks.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Grandma Marshall
Date: 16 May 00 - 07:28 PM

Try some of these traditional tunes on for size (and copied many times into hit songs for certain singers). The Twelveth of Never (Presely) original: The Riddle Song Ain't Gonna Make Was No More--Down by the Riverside just to name a couple. Every composer BORROWS a little now and then. I prefer to steal ancient fiddle tunes of a Celtic nature, slow them down A LOT, find the main tune, maybe change tempo to a waltz and BINGO, I have an original tune---even write lyrics to 'em. I write tunes to old poems. Take a listen to my song called THE SUGARPLUM TREE (words by H.W.Longfellow) tune by me and now it's a lullaby that all my grandchildren know by heart! http://www.geocities.com/ohioweaver.geo


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Jeri
Date: 16 May 00 - 07:56 PM

Personally, if I borrowed a traditional tune, or parts of it, I could not NOT credit the source. I would feel I were stealing/plagerizing. When I write a tune, I frequently worry that it started life outside my head. The bottom line for me is if I say I wrote it, I better damned well have written it or I'm a liar at the very least.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 May 00 - 09:04 PM

John o'Dreams by Bill Caddick uses a tune from Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony. I imagine that's Public Domain now, even in America.

I never ask where a tune comes from when I'm writing a song - it just floats to the surface. Likely as not, some time later I'll decide it's pretty well the same as the tune of some song I've heard. Then I tell someone else that, and they likely tell me "No, it's not", because I'm not that accurate at remembering tunes I've heard.

Songs are there to be used to make new songs. It's not stealing, because the old songs are still there.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 16 May 00 - 09:43 PM

The Weavers.

Paul Campbell.

Words and music.

Sorry Sandy, I have to disagree with you still on this.

Personally Dylan sounds like a colossal prick (just goin' from ALL the books, folks) but he and Albert Grossman didn't do very much different than The Weavers (or Bob Gibson) did. I've always figured that your objections were partly based on hating his "renditions" of those songs.(you're in good company, but I LUVVVVVVED that first album)

I've mended my ways since.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Margaret V
Date: 16 May 00 - 10:03 PM

Just for the record, Spaw, "Bob Dylan's Dream" is pretty powerful and moving even to those of us who were just sprouts in the '60s! Or at any rate, it is to me. . . Margaret


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: paddyc
Date: 16 May 00 - 10:49 PM

Dylan used to hang out with the Clancys in 1960's and borrowed alot of their irish stuff to make his own tunes.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 17 May 00 - 12:28 AM

What was that old saying, Rick, about "two wrongs not making... etc.?" Neither do seven or eight.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 17 May 00 - 12:46 AM

No reason to apologize for holding a different opinion. What kind of discussion could we have without those differences? But, what was that old saying, Rick, about "two wrongs not making a right?" Neither do seven or eight. I am often inclined to despise the commercial music business. Imagine making music to enrich your pocketbook rather than your soul.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 17 May 00 - 08:46 AM

Sandy, I like to think it's possible to enrich both your pocketbook and your soul. This may be an illusion, but I'd like to hang onto it anyway.

Dylan always seems to inspire strong feelings in people. Lots of people don't like his singing, and many feel he has too much "attitude". I also think that some folks resent his success, and there may be a touch of animosity lingering from his treasonous behavior at Newport. For myself, I love his voice, which I find very expressive, and find no fault with his attitude. He "made it big," and he pursued his own vision, and offers no apologies for either. There are a number of other singers and songwriters out there who would have liked to succeed as he has, but didn't. That doesn't mean they were more virtuous than he was, as comforting as that thought might be.

I love simple folk melodies, but let's be honest -- a lot of these tunes are pretty similar when you come right down to it, and it's sometimes hard to tell where one diatonic scale/three chord folk tune ends and another begins. In my humble opinion people should stop worrying about Dylan's use of building blocks from other songs -- unless and until he tries to prevent others from using the same building blocks he has used. If anyone has any evidence that he has tried to stop other people from borrowing tunes as he has, I'd love to hear it.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 17 May 00 - 09:36 AM

I get the impression from a document linked above that it's Jean Ritchie who is trying to leverage her copyright to some new lyrics to "Nottamun Town" into a copyright over the Ritchie version of the melody. I don't know how else to account for her reference to having collected royalties from Bob Dylan, though there may be other explanations (e.g. maybe Dylan sometimes performed Jean's words.)

Those of you who, like McGrath and Grandma Marshall (may I call you "Bábushka" ?) and Sandy believe that "Songs are there to be used to make new songs" might want to reply (on or off forum) to this inquiry which was recently posted to the CNI Copyright Forum.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Bartholomew
Date: 17 May 00 - 11:59 AM

The one thing worse than having someone else get credit for something that you know is yours, is that sick feeling you get when someone points out to you that something you thought was yours actually came from somewhere else. It is so easy to unconsciously plagiarize. And when your focus is on lyric rather than melody, as I believe was true for Mr. Dylan early on, you don't always realize that you borrowed/used/incorporated/stole the melody that fit the words so well.
One other thing that I think should be considered in this discussion is the nature of the music business back in the 60's. Bob Dylan the "singer/songwriter" probably finished the recording, tossed the lyric sheets to Albert Grossman who turned them over to a lawyer who filed the copywrite documents without ever questioning if anyone else should be credited. I doubt that too many people at that time, even true believers, would have imagined that someone 40 years later would be questioning the derivation of the melody line on Farewell Angelina. Although people should not be excused for things done in their name, I also don't think it's fair to assume that Dylan willfully took credit that he knew wasn't his. And at this late date, I doubt that he feels much of a need to correct the record. I'm glad that you guys are doing it, though. I was not aware of the specific derivations of some of these tunes and it's interesting to find out the truth.
As far as Lay Down That Weary Tune - there is a superficial similarity to the River is Wide, but I don't think they're the same song. Of course, I have been wrong before. . .


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 17 May 00 - 05:22 PM

I'm not sure that Bob Dylan himself ever tried to hoodwink anyone about his use of traditional melodies (a lesson he learned from the likes of Guthrie, Seeger, and many others).

I just pulled out my copy of THE FREEWHEELIN' BOB DYLAN, his second album, from 1963.

In the liner notes discussion about Bob Dylan's Dream, Nat Hentoff talks about Dylan getting the idea for the lyrics after an all-night discussion with Oscar Brown, Jr. and goes on to say: "The song slumbered, however, until Dylan went to England in the winter of 1962. There he heard a singer, whose name he recalls as Martin Carthy, perform Lord Franklin, and that old melody found a new adapted home in Bob Dylan's Dream."

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Terry K
Date: 18 May 00 - 12:22 AM

It bothers me that some people seem to think Dylan perhaps should not have released some of his tracks or should somehow not have been allowed to - thus robbing us of them. (A world without "Don't think twice" ? - unthinkable).

I'm for anything that EXPANDs music and against anything that would tend to restrict.

And as for the commercial aspects - does anyone really believe that Bobbie himself had much influence over contract/copyright issues?


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: zander (inactive)
Date: 18 May 00 - 10:23 AM

There is nothing wrong in borrowing tunes or song ideas, this has always happened in folk music either accidently or on purpose it is called the folk process, but when someone knows the origin it is only polite to give credit where it is due. Bob Dylan sometimes did this but not always, Paul Simon was a worse culprit, IE. Scarborough Fair. Best regards to all, Dave


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 18 May 00 - 10:59 AM

I get the impression that some are attacking a straw man. As I read, no one contributing to this thread, with one doubtful exception, has criticized Dylan or anyone else merely for using public domain material. I, at least, consider it commendable of Dylan to have engaged in the so-called "folk process" in this way. My original inquiry was simply to get opinions about Dylan's sources. The thread has since developed to address the etiquette of creative copying, addressing in particular the question of acknowledgement of sources. But I have looked this thread over more than once, and I can't find anyone clearly condemning creative copying per se.

Speaking of creative copying, this page was recently mentioned on a copyright-related web site at Harvard. It demonstrates Handel's use of another composer's melody.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 18 May 00 - 11:29 AM

I recognize your motives in starting this thread, but like all threads it has taken on a life of its own. There were clearly some disparaging remarks about Dylan's failure to credit his sources, and his use of the standard notation "Words and Music by Bob Dylan" on material that was built on borrowed melodies. And of course, it's Dylan, so there were the usual gratuitous references to his "nasal whine" and take-no-prisoners professional ambition. I defended his honor, not against attacks that you launched, but against comments that others made which I considered unfair.

This is called "thread creep" -- happens a lot around here. Some object to it, but I think it keeps things interesting.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,James
Date: 18 May 00 - 11:38 AM

This is a note to Sandy, although I hear undertones of this in other threads..Dylan did use Nottamun Town"s tune and probably her heard it from the singinh of Jean Ritchie. However, Ms Ritchie heard it elswhere obviously ,because it is a very old tune and is one that is used in many traditional English songs. As for his using the tune to The Patriot Game...that is also a very old tune than was comandeered for use . So it is truly the folk process in action rather than "theft". Personally, I love to see a good tune revived.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 18 May 00 - 10:14 PM

I always thought Jean Ritchie's claim to "Nottamun Town" was based on the publication of the song in her Singing Family of the Cumberlands, for which copyright was clearly established when it was published. The Lomax and Warner claim to "Tom Dooley" was, I think, based on a similar claim, since Lomax got the song from Warner and published it long before the great folk scare began. Am I all wet on this?

Also, I thought Dominic Behan was the source of "The Patriot Game." Everyone in the London folk scene of 1958 seemed to consider it "his" song. Can someone locate the "very old" appearance Guest James refers to above?

I'm pleased to learn of Dylan's note on his use of "Lord Franklin" that Mike points to above. I only wish similar notes had been written concerning his sources for those other splendid tunes he came up with. Not to deny him the use of tunes in the public domain, merely wishing that he had given the tradition credit when and where it was due. I'd like folks to realize how beautiful some of our traditional tunes are. It might encourage them to investigate them further.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Syd, Ottawa
Date: 19 May 00 - 12:45 AM

"Restless Farewell" (on "The Times They Are A-Changing") is a reworking of a traditional Irish Song called "The Parting Glass".

Dominic Behan did write "The Patriot Game" - at least he wrote the words. The events described in the song date, I believe, from 1959. I suspect the tune is older and had been recycled from an earlier traditional Irish song.

Syd


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 19 May 00 - 10:33 AM

Sandy, this link gives Jean Ritchie's account of her copyright claim.

My understanding is: since the melody was published in Cecil Sharp's collection, republication of exactly the same melody in a later book doesn't affect the copyright (or lack of it) in the melody.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Mrbisok@aol
Date: 20 May 00 - 06:46 AM

This Dylan thread could form the basis of a PhD thesis. Remember when Martin L. King's PhD thesis was found to contain heavy borrowings? Exposing pop culture ikons is all the rage in our celebrity-driven culture: Idea: make a million: write an anti-Dylan book: "Bob Dylan: Plagiarist."


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 20 May 00 - 12:53 PM

Copying from the public domain is not per se plagiarism. The public domain is meant to be copied. I consider it praiseworthy to copy and/or imitate and/or modify good works in the public domain. "Plagiarism", as I define it, contains a conclusion about the motives of the copyist, not just an observation of the fact of copying. For plagiarism to exist as I define it, there needs to be some deception or bad faith present, not just copying. The position taken by many in this thread, as interpreted through the filter of my definition of plagiarism, is that if Dylan had acknowledged his sources openly, there would be fewer doubts about his good faith or lack of it.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,John Twomey
Date: 21 May 00 - 12:02 AM

I belive that any one who loves music and claims to have no respect for Bob Dylan has serious psychological problems and issues that they haven't dealt with. Anyone who knows even a modicum about traditional music knows that this type of criticism of Dylan is not about music but about resentment and jealousy.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: TheOldMole
Date: 21 May 00 - 12:23 AM

Do people on this thread feel equally angry with Elmore James for "Dust My Broom," with Willie Dixon for "My Babe" (This Train)? With Muddy Waters for "I Can't Be Satisfied"? If not, why not?


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,BluTrane
Date: 21 May 00 - 12:38 AM

No, Ole Mole, those guys were Black,so the white phoneys, I mean folkies, wouldn't be surprised by their theivin ways...they'd rather lambast Dylan for doin what musicians have been doin since the first song was written, er stolen.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 21 May 00 - 12:39 AM

or Blind Willie McTell for "Georgia Rag" (copied from Blake's "Wabash Rag") or Tampa Red (under a pseud) stealing his own "Tight Like That". Or Gene Autrey's astonishingly accurate lifting of a lot of Jimmie Rodgers' songs. Well maybe they might if they knew about it.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,RJE
Date: 21 May 00 - 01:22 AM

I know Bob Dylan personally, and I just called him up on his cell phone and asked him if he ever stole any songs and he said, emphapticaly, that he never stole one f'ing song. He said he didn't even know what copyright meant till his third album and never understood what Public Domain meant till he recorded Diamond Joe and that stuff.He also said you people ought to get a life or write a song of your own or something.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: catspaw49
Date: 21 May 00 - 01:40 AM

Hey, I know the Pope personally and I just called him up on his cell phone and he said it was OK if women entered the priesthood, never understood the significance of "Hail Mary" until he had doled out 34,917 as a young priest, and asked if I could send him a pack of rubbers. He also said that after reading the ridiculous tripe by GuestRJE, he has changed his mind on abortion.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Terry K
Date: 21 May 00 - 07:04 AM

John Twomey - I wish I'd said that!!

And 'spaw, - I wish I'd said that!!


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: bbelle
Date: 21 May 00 - 11:43 AM

Guest,RJE ... since you purport to know Dylan personally, ask him this, for me ... "Did Diamonds and Rust really happen?" Also ask him if he's using an analog wireless phone or digital wireless phone. If he says "digital," tell him to be sure it's cdma technology so his conversations can't be cloned ... Jenny


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Mar 02 - 06:29 PM

I am trying to find the source of the melody to which Lord Franklin (or Lady Franklin's Lament) was written. I know, as you must also, that one of Bob Dylan's early hits used not only the melody but whole lines, i.e. I dreamed a dream and I thought it true of all the friends that I ever knew. I think that Ewan MacColl recorded it. He may have written the tune but it appears that there were earlier versions. Might you have information about this or a suggestion as to where I might go to trace the use of a melody that was probably in the public domain. Thank you. Deborah Parducci dparducci28@compuserve.com


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 09 Mar 02 - 08:20 PM

I don't think I know of anyone who has taken the heart and soul of traditional music and adapted it more faithfully and powerfully to fresh new lyrics and modern images and themes. Dylan's love of traditional music is evident throughout his career and is one of his great strengths. To hear him do a trad song on acoustic guitar is a joy. Some of his concert performances of same are absolute gems. We can all be grateful that he tapped into the folk tradition at an early age, and absorbed it like a sponge...as he also did with country, rock 'n roll, and acoustic blues.

Dylan respects the past and has not forgotten it, but built marvelously upon it.

If, on the other hand, you look at the music videos which are prevalent today you might wonder if the people who made most of them are aware of any past at all...or are just trying desperately to be "cool" in a way that is about as ephemeral, and valuable, as soap bubbles. Give 'em an explosive dance beat, a overwhelming deluge of bass end, and lyrics that are repetitive throwaway garbage...and you've got a hit! Blaugh! It's Desolation Row out there in TV land.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 09 Mar 02 - 09:57 PM

I remember a comment from many years ago about how someone "drew upon folk music the way little boys draw on lavatory walls". Not Bob, of course.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Mar 02 - 12:48 AM

You're repeating yourself, Dick. You provided that same quote (but not in quotation marks) way back on 12 May 00 at 3:15 PM on this very same thread...

Did Bob Dylan kick your dog once or something? You can compare Johnny Rotten to a kid writing on bathroom walls...or any number of heavy metal, punk, rap, and alternative songwriters, who swear constantly onstage to titillate their prepubescent audiences...but Dylan? I don't think so.

I am reminded of Mick Jagger, who once said of Madonna "a teaspoonful of talent in a sea of ambition"...

Now, I'm no Madonna fan, but in both cases I see a quite clever use of words, making a statement that is funny, snide, and has little if any actual bearing on the subject at hand, though in Madonna's case the part about the ambition was quite correct.

If you and Mick got together, I bet you could think up a few more of these devastating one-liners, and with any luck attain a certain form of immortality thereby...at least among a very limited audience.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Mr Red
Date: 10 Mar 02 - 09:31 AM

dick greenhaus
Bitchy, bitchy - but so true.
Mike Regenstreif
Nat Hentoff said it and not Dylan, who took the dosh?
Whistle Stop
If Dylan was borrowing from all around and he never got sued for plagiarism then, I sumbit - ladies and gentlemen of the kangaroo jury, it is a coincidence beyond chance.
call me a cynic, but I read the Kline biog and Woody's autobiography and Woody was ALWAYS referring to his "borrowing" of tunes. So how close, artistically/morally, to Woody did old zimmerframe get?
Roy Palmer sees no crime in "not giving credit" if the record company get all the financial credit.
I say "OK, so we'll be their conscience."
Here endeth my Scarborough (notso) Fair Canticle
AND that's another thing..........


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Pixie
Date: 10 Mar 02 - 09:40 AM

I have a Bob Dylan song book that attributes words and music to "Shenandoah" to Bob......

Pixie


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Mar 02 - 12:46 PM

Yes, and it should have simply credited him with that particular arrangement of "Shenandoah"...assuming he was the one who arranged it.

But so what?

If one of the finest ships in the world pulled into your dock, would you refuse it on account of a couple of barnacles on the hull?

The only reason people bitch endlessly about Dylan is because his contribution to music has been so huge that they are incapable of ignoring him.

If his contribution had been minimal, and his degree of success likewise, you guys wouldn't care enough about him in the first place to bother seeking out minor blemishes to obsess about...and he wouldn't be any threat to your tender little egos, would he?

You're refusing a first class gift horse because it has one or two hairs out of place.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: JudyR
Date: 10 Mar 02 - 06:56 PM

This is an interesting, if somewhat rambling passage by Eric Von Schmidt from "Baby Let Me Follow You Down," the book (1979).

"When we got to my apartment he wasn't much interested in playing; he wanted to listen. So I played "He Was a Friend of Mine,' 'Wasn't That A Mighty Storm,' 'Baby Let Me Lay It On You," and a couple of others. It was something, the way he was soaking up material in those days --like a sponge and a half. Later, somebody said, 'Hey, Bob's put one of your songs on his album.' They were talking about 'Baby Let Me Follow You Down' which had a spoken introduction saying he had heard it from me..'in the green fields of Harvard University.' The tune was the same, and the chores were real prety, but they weren't the same. I don't know if he changed them or if he'd heard a different version from Van Ronk. He also did Van Ronk's version of 'House of the Rising Sun' on that record, which pissed Dave off. The label on the record lists 'R. Von Schmidt' as he composer, but Witmark had copyrighted it under Dylan's name. I figured it was a good plug for me, so what the hell."

"The next time I saw Bob, he said, 'Hey man, that's your song,' or something..and sure enough, I got a contract signed by him listing us as co-composers. It was to become effective when I signed it. I called Manny Greenhill and explained the situation to him. He said, "Whatever you do, don't distort the facts, because you could get in trouble.' So Iwrote Witmark and gave them the 'facts' but explained that if we co-wrote the moment I signed the cntract, then we co-wrote it when the recored was released and royalties should start from there. They wrote back a note thanking me for my trouble and saying that I was right, I didn't have a claim to the song, and they were honoring 'a priori copyright." I figured they meant Blind Boy Fuller's heirs or something, but they were talking about Dylan's copyright. Apparantly they turned around with the "facts" I had supplied them and used them to void THAT copyright. A postscript to this all is that my ex-mentor, Manny Greenhill, now claism that the song was written by Reverend Gary Davis. Well, that's show biz."

Not sure who to attribute this mess to -- maybe not Dylan in the end? But these problems always seem to crop up with Dylan, don't they?! I don't know -- most of the arguments I could have made had been made by the time I got to this thread (and so much better, especially by Sandy Patton), but it seems to me there's just too many instances where Dylan, given a choice, made it in favor of himself (you know, if it walks like a duck, etc.) etc). At best, this convenient habit of taking material without credit is slipshod, at worst, somewhat shadowy and dubious.

Incidentally, Van Ronk WAS resentful of Dylan about "The House of the Rising Sun," I believe. for a long time. When I would hear him talk in the Village in the 70's, he often spoke of Dylan in somewhat mocking tones.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Noreen
Date: 10 Mar 02 - 07:18 PM

Deborah, you have re-opened a hornet's nest here... :0)

It would seem that you will be more likely to get an answer to your particular question by starting another thread, with the song in the title, so I'll do that for you: Source of melody:Lady Franklin's Lament?(Click here) to get to your new thread.

Noreen

(e-mail sent)

PS_ It would have been nice if some of you helpful people had actually read Deborah's question instead of jumping in again with both feet...


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: JudyR
Date: 10 Mar 02 - 07:41 PM

Like someone else said -- forum subjects have a way of taking on a life of their own. I myself was well aware I wasn't responding to her original question. I thought that had been well-covered. Sandy -- sorry for spelling your last name wrong.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Noreen
Date: 10 Mar 02 - 08:02 PM

Judy, this thread had been dormant for almost two years until Deborah refreshed it yesterday with a new request for information about the melody for Lady Franklin's Lament. Little Hawk, at least, must have been aware of that, as he was the first to post after her request. He saw it as another chance to defend Mr. Zimmerman rather than actually adress the question, and others followed along well-trodden lines; that was my point.

No problem- her query is now being addressed elsewhere.

Noreen


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Mar 02 - 08:40 PM

Duh...question? What question? We don't need no steenkin' questions to answer...

Wait a minute, I'll take a look... (consulting thread record above)

Ah yes, okay...well, I really can't help with that particular question, but there were some other posts that got me in gear, so...that's the way it goes.

There's always been a lot of bitching, backbiting, and cattiness in the music industry, just as in the film industry. It's a very competitive racket. Dylan mocked other people, they mocked him. Par for the course. I think what really irritated people about Bob was he kept surprising them, and succeeding at the same time.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: gloopy
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 06:26 AM

Has anybody on this thread listened to Dylan's latest, Love and theft,he has a bit to say about the whole issue, albiet in a typically multi-layered way. Whole verses appear to have been lifted from the blues archives. High Water (for Charley Paton) refers to this in the title, but Paton doesn't get creditted for the lyrics. The predominate musical form is the 12 bar blues, but who would you credit with this. Dylan appears to be admitting both to stealing from what he loves, but indeed loving what it is he is stealing from. He is implying a similar accusation on his "fans" or "rivals" Dylan's reworkings have arguably always been written for an audience who actually know the originals, with no real attempt to hide it. (Bob takes the money thought) I'm sure he, in a way , he is sharing his love with the audience(Read the liner notes to World Gone Wrong if you dont believe me) If he could have copyrighted anything he would have been best served copyrighting his (unprotectable) vocal style, which has been subject to some of the most appalling copies imagining ps another cheeky "steal" is "Saved(by the Blood of the Lamb)" from another song entitled "saved"


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 03:45 PM

Well said, gloopy. Bob does the same thing other folksingers have done since time immemorial. The difference is that when he does it everyone hears about it.

The liner notes to "World Gone Wrong" are the best evidence to support what you and I have said about this whole subject, but why would someone who hates Dylan bother to seek them out and read them? Most people would far rather stay mired in a comfortable and familiar rut of prejudice than exert a little mental effort, do some thoughtful investigation, and dig themselves out of it.

And it's a damn good thing no one has succeeded in copyrighting air and sunlight or we'd all be a whole lot worse off for it.

What Dylan earns money for is being creative in a unique way and entertaining people in a unique way, and you can't put a copyright on that nor is there any need to. When he dies, that particular show is over, and no one can start it up again.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: gloopy
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 05:53 AM

Hey, Little Hawk, Wow, someone here has read the liner notes on World Gone Wrong! Seeing that there seem to have been no accusations of stealing on any Dylan songs from about 1970 onward I assumed everyone had stopped listening! The World Gone Wrong liner notes are articulate and passionate, it seems that even though he felt the was nothing he could do to "improve" the songs on that album, he could still express himself in this other unexpected way, ie critic, and advocate. ps another reworking for ya'll is Blind Willie McTell from St James Imfirmary Blues (Approximately)


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 03:57 PM

Yeah. I think Dylan generally only bothered to rework a trad song if he thought he could do something that was in some way an improvement on the original...or at least allowed him to say something he really wanted to say. If not, he didn't bother reworking it, but did it in its original form, albeit in his own style of delivery.

I've done the same thing myself, rewriting and adapting trad songs to new lyrics and new ideas, but no one objects to it...cos I'm not famous! :-)

Ah...the joys of anonymity... Several of Dylan's closest friends said recently, when asked what one present they would give him, if they could, that anonymity would be it.

Suze Rotolo said "youth, beauty, and no more biographies".

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 06:58 PM

"The Patriot Game" is based on, "The Nightengale," which is English in origin I believe (Irish may claim it, and it MAY be true)! As you know, it begins,

One morning, one morning, one morning in May,
I met a fair couple a-making their way,
And one was a lady, so sweet and so fair
And the other a soldier, a brave volunteer.

Lorraine Wyman collected, "Fair Nottamun Town," in Knott County, in our community. "Uncle" Jason Ritchie (actually Dad's first cousin, but all called him uncle)took her around to find singers, and sang several for her, himself. It was Uncle Jason who supplied his daughter Sabrina and her cousin (my sister Una- students atHindman Settlement School where Sharp and Karpeles were 'headquartering-' with all the lyrics and melody to, "Fair Nottamun Town," and, "The Little Devils."

My motivation for my "family copyrights" is in order to preserve sources of our songs, for folklore scholars of the present and future. I never require money for the use of these songs- only that they credit the source (of course, some do not ask for free usage, nor want it).

As to, Masters of War, I wanted only to ask Bob Dylan (then my friend, in the Greenwich Village folk group of those days)to honor the source of the melody, with something like, "Trad.Ritchie Family, KY." But lawyers take things out of one's hands...however, the "royalties" were a small out-of-court settlement- I never got any royalties since. And "words and music by Bob Dylan" was dropped in connection with the song (where the music should have a credit is left blank). I was satisfied with that, and I believe that Bob acted honorably with me.

I hope this answers all foregoing questions. Sincerely, Jean


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 11:35 PM

Just to come at this from a different angle, let's assume (as I firmly believe) that using existing melodies is an essential part of the folk process. My question is can anyone identify a song that Dylan rewrote that's any better than the one he got it from?

DYlan was and is a consummate success as a pop singer. He's written a couple of very fine songs, some not-too-bad ones and a lot of garbage--a pretty fair batting average for any songwriter. In several cases (Blowin' in the Wind and Don't Think Twice for example) he's done enough re-writing of the source melody to earn a valid copyright (IMO).

He hasn't had much to do with folk or trad. music in a long, long time.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Jack of Hearts
Date: 14 Mar 02 - 04:17 PM

dick greenhaus: "My question is can anyone identify a song that Dylan rewrote that's any better than the one he got it from?"

Dylan's "Fare Thee Well," a rewrite of "The Leaving of Liverpool" is, in my opinion, superior to the original. I suspect that Pete Seeger and Judy Collins might agree because they chose to record the Dylan rewrite rather than the traditional original.

Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" has much more power, impact and continuing relevancy than "Lord Randall," the traditional ballad on which it is based.

There are many other examples and the value of Dylan's rewrites, in my opinion, do not negate the value of the traditional material.

dick greenhaus: "He hasn't had much to do with folk or trad. music in a long, long time."

That statement just shows that dick greenhaus has not been listening to what Bob Dylan has been dooing in a long, long time. When I saw him perform last month, Dylan did several traditional songs including "Duncan & Brady," (perhaps in tribute to the recently departed Dave Van Ronk).

Just a few years ago, Dylan did two albums of all traditional songs. Many of his recent songs are based on traditional styles and many contain references to traditional songs or characters from traditional songs. Listen to the epic "Tryin' To Get To Heaven" and then tell me that Dylan is not completely engrossed in traditional music.

Long ago, Pete Seeger said that he was wrong about being mad at Dylan for the electric set at Newport 37 years ago. It looks to me that dick greenhaus is among the last holdouts still bearing a grudge.

P.S. Lest anyone think that I am disrespecting dick greenhaus by not capitalizing his name, that is not the case. I am just following the style of how he, himself, presents his name in the above message.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 14 Mar 02 - 06:08 PM

Dick - Thanks, as always for the chuckle! You are such a droll fellow. In my opinion Bob's rewrites of trad songs are, with virtually no exceptions, markedly superior to the originals...but it's a matter of individual taste, isn't it?

I like the originals fine. I like Dylan's rewrites far more. They have more meaning, more subtlety, more relevance to our time, and more intensity.

You're basically right to say that he's a pop singer, but he's a very unusual one, since he writes in a more serious vein than is normally seen in pop music.

He's simply a singer, in fact, who cannot be categorized. He sings pop, rock, blues, folk, country, and some other stuff too. The folk people got mad at him way back when after Newport '65, because they thought they owned him and that he would never disappoint them, but keep being their crown prince forever, and keep writing more of the same old stuff forever. When he threw away the folk crown and moved on, it truly upset them. Well, too bad. They didn't own him.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: gloopy
Date: 16 Mar 02 - 08:33 AM

Dylan's latest, Love and Theft is brimming over with lyrical and musical "appropraitions" Apart from the inclusion of the words 'for Charley Paton' in the title of High Water there is no reference to any of this. I guess when you've been subject to the amount of adulation and ridicule (Justified and unjustified)you become disassociated to criticism, at least on topics like this. He'aint changin' his theivin'ways fo'no man gotta problem, take it to the boss


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: sharyn
Date: 09 Nov 05 - 11:55 PM

I opened up this old thread (can of worms?) when searching for commentaries on "World Gone Wrong," which I've just fallen in love with -- the song and the CD.

A comment for Dick G.: it had never occurred to me that "Farewell Angelina" was a version of "Farewell to Tarwathie," melodically. In this case, I have to say, in my opinion, "Farewell Angelina" is far more interesting, lyrically and melodically. And I am a dyed-in-the-wool ballad singer as well as a songwriter (saying so might prevent a few of you from jumping down my throat. Then again, it may not. So be it).


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 10 Nov 05 - 03:33 AM

100, On a Dylan thread, what joy!!


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Snuffy
Date: 10 Nov 05 - 08:34 AM

Sharyna, Sharyna, gal where you bin so long?


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