Joni Mitchell is having trouble seeing both sides now when it comes to Bob Dylan. Most music fans consider the twosome among the most influential and seminal artists of the last 50 years, and place Dylan at the absolute pinnacle of the singer/songwriter pantheon. Mitchell does not hold him in such high regard.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times that ran April 22, Mitchell called Dylan a fake. After the reporter, Matt Diehl, commented that both Mitchell and Dylan had altered their given names, Mitchell blasted Dylan with both barrels: “Bob is not authentic at all. He”s a plagiarist and his name and voice are fake,” she said. But she wasn”t done yet. “Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I.”
She further goes on to explain that her name is simply a nickname derived from her given name, Roberta Joan Anderson, combined with her married name, from when she married Chuck Mitchell. Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman.
Mitchell doesn’t clarify the plagiarism accusation, but a number of outlets have connected the dots to a New York Times 2006 article that notes the similarities between Dylan’s lyrics on “Modern Times” to those of confederate poet Henry Timrod.
Mitchell didn”t reserve her vitriol solely for Zimmy, oops, we mean Dylan. Commenting that Rolling Stone named her “Old Lady of the Year” in the ’70s for her alleged number of lovers, she added, “Grace [Slick] and Janis Joplin were [sleeping] with their whole bands and falling down drunk and nobody came after them.”
On a side note, at least Mitchell”s affairs of the heart inspired some wonderful music. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young”s sweet “Our House,” was allegedly written by Graham Nash about his relationship with Mitchell, while her songs “Car on a Hill” and “Help Me” are rumored to be about her affair with the Eagles” Glenn Frey. “A Free Man in Paris” is about David Geffen.
In the L.A. Times piece, the only person getting away unscathed is Jimi Hendrix, whom Mitchell calls “the sweetest guy.” As far as the rest of us Americans, Mitchell, a Canadian, doesn”t seem to have much use for us for the last 30 years. She says her later work “is set against the stupid, destructive way we live on this planet. Americans have decided to be stupid and shallow since 1980. Madonna is like Nero; she marks the turning point.” Ouch.
According to his representatives, Dylan was unavailable for comment. Mitchell”s rep did not respond to a request for a comment. Perhaps Mitchell”s words speak for themselves.