x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dylan, edited slightly

Attempting to pass your own words off as Bob Dylan's is probably not the brightest idea a young journalist could have.

He's responsible for some of the most famous song lyrics of the 20th century. "A hard rain is a-gonna fall"; "Blowin' in the wind"; and "I shall be released".

Bob Dylan is often credited with being one of music's finest wordsmiths, an inspiration to the likes of John Lennon, Bono and many other rockers. Outside of music, meanwhile, Dylan's reticence is legendary.

Either way, attempting to pass your own words off as Dylan's is probably not the brightest of ideas. Sadly, it didn't stop one otherwise talented author from trying, with unsurprising results.

Last week, Jonah Lehrer, a prominent writer for the New Yorker magazine, resigned his post after admitting that he had fabricated certain Dylan quotes in his bestselling book Imagine: how creativity works. After denying allegations of wrongdoing, Lehrer was forced to come clean on Monday.

There are echoes of another case: Johann Hari of The Independent had to give up his 2008 Orwell Prize for journalism after admitting to plagiarising quotes.

It's not clear why they do it. But what is certain is that in the age of the internet, there is nowhere to hide. The times, they are a-changin'.