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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Crossing the Line with Sweet Melinda

My good friend Sweet Melinda asked a question.

“Dead Beat, I got a message from the DJ Scott Warmouth who exposed the Bob Dylan/Henry Timrod connection citing all the incidences of "borrowing". I'm not sure what I think now, other than Dylan probably did use the lines deliberately. (But then he's always borrowed) Had you any thoughts on this?”

Well it got D.B. thinking. Henry Timrod is an old forgotten Civil War poet Dylan ’borrowed’ some lines from in his latest cd Modern Times.

D.B. replies, “ I think it's quite deliberate - and I suspect he justifies it by saying that the folk tradition has always brought along new versions of old songs - but usually this is fairly well known - when you just lift a lyric or a line of poetry and say nothing, I think you may be crossing a line -

What about Johnny Cash's infamous "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die" There is a line in a much older murder ballad that Cash once quoted to justify the morality of the line - he seemed to suggest that he was not aware of the line at the time, but I doubt this greatly - hard to admit these things when you have been given so much credit for the 'original'.

Jimmie Rodgers sang “I’m Gonna Buy Me A Shotgun As Long As I’m Tall/I’m Gonna Shoot Poor Thelma/ Just To See Her Jump And Fall”.

So what do you say Dead Beat - a line is a line?

Yes - until you cross it.

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