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New Yorker writer admits inventing Bob Dylan quotes

Wednesday 1 August 2012

New Yorker writer admits inventing Bob Dylan quotes

New Yorker writer Jonah Lehrer has resigned after being caught inventing Bob Dylan quotes for his book Imagine: How Creativity Works.

Lehrer was outed by Tablet Magazine's Michael Moynihan, who became suspicious regarding certain quotes that were attributed to Dylan. The main quote that alerted Moynihan was from Dylan's infamous 1965 press conference in London - captured on the brilliant Don't Look Back documentary – in which Dylan verbally destroyed a flailing Time Magazine journalist. The quote attributed to Dylan in the book was: "I just write them. There's no great message. Stop asking me to explain."

The footage (watch here - if you have never seen this, it's possibly Dylan's finest moment in a lifetime full of them) clearly reveals the actual quote to be: "I just write them. I don't write them for any reason. There's no great message. If you wanna tell other people that, go ahead and tell them. But I'm not gonna have to answer to it."

Reading both quotes in your head using the Dylan voice will provide further evidence that only one of those could have come from Dylan.

When approached, Lehrer told a dubious Moynihan the quotes came from archival footage provided by Dylan's representatives; he later released a statement admitting to the artifice.

"I told Mr. Moynihan that [the quotes] were from archival interview footage provided to me by Dylan's representatives. This was a lie spoken in a moment of panic. When Mr. Moynihan followed up, I continued to lie, and say things I should not have said. The lies are over now."

Moynihan also discovered quotes where Dylan discusses the writing of Like A Rolling Stone were invented, while other accurate quotes were wildly miscontextualised within the book.

It's been a bad few months for Lehrer, who was recently caught recycling his own work for various publications. Houghton Mifflin has halted e-book sales of Imagine.

- Nathan Jolly, The Music Network