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Thinking Aloud About the Recall

The Continuing Ventures of ZimmerMan*

Our musical post trend continues:

Bob Dylan's Love and Theft is a great American recording working and reworking history, fable and most of the popular musical forms of the early 20th century. And it makes me laugh.

The album also conceals a mystery about its person: there is now little doubt that Dylan slyly interwove phrases and references from Confessions of a Yakuza, a Japanese novel by Junichi Saga, into his lyrics. Dylan has, of course, been lifting material openly from Shakespeare, the Bible and innumerable other sources for years, but the Saga references are are both unacknwoledged and much more obscure. They hide themselves within their songs like figures in a carpet.

The San Francisco Chronicle offers the most extensive rundown I've yet seen of where and how material from the novel has been infused into the songs. The use that Dylan has made of Saga's material is too subtle and artistically interesting to be dismissed as "plagiarism."

[*The title of this post refers to a pair of National Lampoon comic book parodies from 1972 and 1974, which I was happily astounded to find reproduced here and here.]


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