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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

If you're going to make up quotes, don't make up Dylan quotes

I see another smart young writer from a smart publication has been caught misrepresenting quotes, this time from Bob Dylan. That's never a good idea.

Jonah Lehrer claimed that the quotes came from an unreleased interview done for the film No Direction Home. He said that he'd been given access to this by Jeff Rosen, who is not so much Dylan's manager as his Boswell. An experienced editor would have raised an eyebrow at this point because this kind of thing doesn't happen.

Oddly enough, while artists and their representatives rarely complain about being misquoted, their most devoted fans are often the first to smell a rat. It's these people that Lehrer should have been worried about because they know the most and care the most.

I interviewed Bob Dylan in 1986 for a magazine which was yet to be announced. I got back from New York later that week and was accosted, at a press event, by somebody who said "I understand you interviewed Bob Dylan on Tuesday night".

That was my first meeting with the late John Bauldie, at the time Britain's leading "Bobcat". I was spooked by the fact that he knew. However the more I learned about John's world - and this was in the days before the web accelerated the sharing of information between like minds - the more I realised that there are some artists who are not so much followed as stalked. Dylan is foremost among that group. The stalkers may not know everything straightaway but they get to know everything eventually. Lehrer should have picked somebody else.