Last September Bob Dylan lashed out at those who noticed similarities between his work and others’. Dylanologists will know that he’s been dogged by accusations of plagiarism at least as early as his Freewheelin’ days and they will accept and point out that the appropriation of idiom and folk tradition is what the pop culture process is all about. But Dylan’s full songwriting claim for his recent “Soon After Midnight,” in which he purloins the entire chord structure of the Bobby Fuller Four’s “New Shade of Blue” is kind of eyebrow-raising, and I’m surprised that only a few muffled “wussies” (Bob’s words) in comments sections of the online wilderness have taken notice of this. “New Shade of Blue” songwriters Bobby Fuller and Mary Stone have both passed on, but giving them a bit of songwriting credit where it’s due shouldn’t strike anyone as being an unnecessary gesture.
[P.S. Remember when Dylan gave Rod Stewart the business over “Forever Young”? Quoting myself: “In 1978 Stewart would get in trouble … when his ‘Forever Young’ irritated Bob Dylan, whose own ‘Forever Young’ was an obvious influence. So the two mammoths ended up splitting the royalties, which was no compensation for those of us who were irritated by the song in general.”]
The Bobby Fuller Four – “A New Shade of Blue” (1966) (excerpt)
Songwriting credits: Bobby Fuller and Mary Stone
Bob Dylan – “Soon After Midnight” (2012) (excerpt)
Songwriting credits: Bob Dylan