Tom Leonard in New York — April 23, 2010
The Canadian singer-songwriter, lambasted Bob Dylan as a “plagiarist” and a “fake” in a rare interview.
Mitchell, 66, attacked her fellow folk musician after an interviewer for the Los Angeles Times casually noted that both had changed their names, in Dylan’s case from Bobby Zimmerman.
“Bob is not authentic at all. He’s a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake,” she said, not appreciating the comparison.
“Everything about Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I.”
Her plagiarism accusation may be linked to a controversy in 2006 over Dylan’s album Modern Times. Critics claimed his lyrics borrowed too heavily from the writing of the Confederacy poet Henry Timrod.
Dylan, an American Civil War buff, made no acknowledgement to Timrod in the album’s sleeve notes.
He was also accused of borrowing the words of other writers in previous album lyrics, including a dozen passages allegedly lifted from a gangster novel written by an obscure Japanese writer.
In her interview, Mitchell also attacked her contemporaries Grace Slick and Janis Joplin, claiming both in their heyday were “[sleeping with] their whole bands and falling down drunk”.
She criticised Madonna’s cultural influence, saying: “Americans have decided to be stupid and shallow since 1980. Madonna is like Nero; she marks the turning point.”
Mitchell did, at least, have something good to say about Jimi Hendrix, who she described as “the sweetest guy”.