Why Joni Mitchell Called Bob Dylan ‘Plagiarist’

While the folk scene was boiling with creativity, the ’60s were surely a time to be alive for any fan. You could’ve easily walked into a Greenwich bar and witnessed a young Bob Dylan chant peace anthems with his bagpipe-like voice, as once described by Joyce Carol Oates, while Joan Baez stood alongside and accompanied him.

On the West Coast, folk rock was also thriving as the Byrds had taken the lead, and similar tunes could also be heard through the more experimental works of Jefferson Airplane. The American music scene, by all means, had different elements across its borders, and perhaps that was what made thousands emigrate to the country with hopes of becoming the next great sensation.

Joni Mitchell was among those who landed in the U.S. along with her hopes of leaving her troubling past behind and starting out a blank page after having her fair share of personal problems back in Canada, and sometime later, she did get what she wished for. Against all the hardships, she became a fresh breath of air for the folk scene, forming her own creative tabula rasa and painting all over it with her original tunes.

When it came to originality, it was quite challenging to compete with Joni, as she always seemed to come up with new tracks of her own, and that surely helped her stand out from the rest of her peers. After all, the folk scene already had some accomplished singers, and a rocker had to be original if they wanted to make a name for themselves.

So, when Joni, who knew how important it was to be original, thought that a fellow folk icon faked their way into the rock scene and accused them of being a creative thief, it was like the duel of two legendary gladiators as Mitchell didn’t hold back while criticizing that so-called ‘friend.’

Don’t get me wrong; the rocker rarely holds back when slamming her fellow rockers since even a close friend, Prince, couldn’t escape her controversial opinions about him, so when it came to unleashing all her annoyance for that one rock icon, who she also called deceptive, it was in true Joni-fashion that her words ranged harsh.

So, Mitchell was talking to LA Times in 2010 about her peers in the rock scene when the topic came to the other rockers’ authenticity. The host made the mistake of comparing her to Bob Dylan, and that was when Joni let go of her words’ leash, starting by stating that she and Bob had nothing in common since he had no authenticity.

The singer discussed how she viewed Dylan as a creative thief, calling out to him for using a fake name and trying to sound like something different from who he was. She even called her fellow rocker a deception, accusing him of having no originality to his name.

Joni on being compared to Bob and why he was a deception:

“We are like night and day, [Dylan] and I. Bob is not authentic at all. He’s a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception.”

So, in a competitive scene where all rockers tried to outdo one another and thrived in creative work, Joni thought Dylan was fake and had nothing original about him. The singer didn’t take it well to be compared with Bob, refusing to be considered on the same page as him when it came to originality since she didn’t believe he had anything authentic.