Writer made up Bob Dylan quotes; resigns from New Yorker

Why make up quotes from Bob Dylan? There are few figures in popular culture of the past 50 years who have given as many lengthy and fascinating and amusing interviews as Dylan has. I guess the obvious answer is that you make them up if you want to have Dylan expressing a thought he never actually expressed. When Dylan is quoted as saying something, it somehow matters to people (even people who aren’t fans), much more so than something said by your common-or-garden celebrity.

Michael Moynihan of The Tablet read Jonah Lehrer’s book Imagine: How Creativity Works, and, being a big Dylan fan himself, he found some of the quotes attributed to Dylan didn’t ring true or familiar. He followed up with Lehrer and was lied to and then eventually the house of cards came tumbling down, as Moynihan describes in his article here.

I didn’t read Lehrer’s book; it wasn’t on my radar. But I know very well how a false Dylan quote can stand out and trouble a dedicated fan.


I don’t mind saying that one of my high points as RWB was when I got the Christian Science Monitor to issue a correction for quoting Dylan as calling himself an atheist.

(You’re welcome, Bob. I guess Michael Moynihan is owed a thank-you note too.)

Addendum: For some, of-course, making up or distorting a few quotes is not ambitious enough at all. We can’t forget that the high minded journalists at India’s The Hindu apparently concocted an entire interview.

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