Sunday, July 07, 2013

Tweedle-dee Dee—he’s on his hands and his knees

My Papou does battle with the spirit of Robert Johnson (as I said once before)
Saying, “Throw me somethin’, Mister, please”
“What’s good for you is good for me”
Says Tweedle-dee Dum to Tweedle-dee Dee
So today maybe a coherent post. I've been working on a series about Bob Dylan and plagiarism, my ongoing thesis that Bob Dylan stole every line of “Love & Theft”--also his only album with the title in quotes on the cover, and itself a theft of another title, the academic book Love & Theft:Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class. Last week, doing research, I learned from the definitive Bob Dylan trivia and fan forum, (taken from “Desolation Row”--the place where “everybody is making love, or else expecting rain”) that my long-held thesis is commonplace. JohnnieRay says, “Just my contribution to the 'every line in “Love & Theft” is stolen from another source' myth.”

It's just a myth, and you can read my contributions here [Dylan], and last week Bob did battle with the spirit of Robert Johnson, as did my Papou in the above photograph. Robert Johnson stole from the devil at the crossroads—you know that old legend, surely: he went to the crossroads, the place where the devil visits, with only his guitar, and when he got there he traded his soul for the ability to play. And Bob stole from Robert Johnson, and the American working class stole from black culture it attempted to “control and repress” by using blackface minstrelsy.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.
But maybe what we also hand on along with misery is art, and artifact.

A brilliant article by Robert Cohen in the Believer, an issue of which I haven't read cover to cover since my commuting days on the Chicago El, says it better than I ever could:

The Hebrews ripped off the Canaanites. Virgil ripped off Homer, Dante ripped off Virgil, Mathew and Luke ripped off Mark; Shakespeare ripped off Plutarch, Eliot ripped off Shakespeare, Dylan rips off everybody, and—my sweet lord—George Harrison ripped off the Chiffons. And so it goes.”

He ends: “...still impelled onward, I would argue, by the same old longings, the same old methods.”

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