Joni Mitchell: “I like a lot of Bob Dylan’s songs, but he’s not very musically gifted”

Joni Mitchell: “I like a lot of Bob Dylan’s songs, but he’s not very musically gifted”

Joni Mitchell discusses her mercurial career in an exclusive to celebrate her 70th birthday, in the new issue of Uncut (dated December 2013), out now.

The singer-songwriter identifies Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan as her only contemporaries, but also criticises Dylan for not being “musically gifted” and for alleged plagiarism.

“I like a lot of Bob’s songs,” says Mitchell. “Musically he’s not very gifted, he’s borrowed his voice from a lot of old hillbillies. He’s got a lot of borrowed things.”

Addressing her claim that Dylan is a “plagiarist”, Mitchell explains: “It’s not like I outed him. He stole all of his lines out of a Japanese hoodlum’s novel. There was a lawsuit impending, but it got dropped. He told me ‘I haven’t written a song in years.’ I said, ‘What’re you talking about? Who’s writing them, then?’ He came down to craft.”

She claims she's not at all disappointed in Dylan, though, praising him for inventing "a character to deliver his songs… Because you can do things with that character. It’s a mask of sorts… To sustain a gift for a long time is rare."

Mitchell was originally interviewed at length for the Canadian Broadcasting Company, and this will be the first time this incredible, in-depth interview has been published in print.

The new issue of Uncut (dated December 2013) is out now.

Visit our dedicated features section, with plenty of our best long pieces archived there. You can find it here.

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