July 11, 2011

by Reb Yudel
Dylan plagiarism scandal at Jewish summer camp

For some of us, our central focus at summer camp was the camp newspaper. So it is with particular interest that we read about a rare Bob Dylan manuscript that had come up for auction:

Little Buddy, written for his summer camp's newspaper, the Herzl Herald, in 1957 while Dylan, aged sixteen, was attending Herzl Camp in Webster, Wisconsin, is the story of a boy and his dog. Buddy, alas, comes to a tragic end. The manuscript is signed, "Bobby Zimmerman."
The manuscript has sold for $12,500. But don't think the buyer received an unpublished Bob Dylan song:
As it turns out, however, the lyrics are not Bob Dylan's. Little Buddy was a slightly revised version of a song originally written by Canadian-born country-western star, Hank Snow, and first recorded by him in 1948 for the Canadian Bluebird label. .
The Booktryst site that brings us this news (and photos of the original manuscript if you want to see young Bob's handwriting) insists that
The important thing to take from this is not that Dylan plagiarized
but, rather, that teen-aged Bob Dylan was listening to country music
and confounding expectations long before he was officially confounding
expectations
Maybe.  But as someone fascinated by Dylan's creative borrowings -- his "love and theft" as it were -- it's noteworthy to see a young Zimmerman playing fast and loose with attribution and authenticity.

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