Even though (maybe especially because) he apparently plagiarized parts of it from SparkNotes, of all places. Thus saith Slate:
In Dylan’s recounting, a “Quaker pacifist priest” tells Flask, the third mate, “Some men who receive injuries are led to God, others are led to bitterness” (my emphasis). No such line appears anywhere in Herman Melville’s novel. However, SparkNotes’ character list describes the preacher using similar phrasing, as “someone whose trials have led him toward God rather than bitterness” (again, emphasis mine).
And so on. For Dylan, plagiarism is beside the point. He isn’t just another songwriter; he is a force of nature. Here he is singing “North Country Blues” at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963, when he was all of 22 years old. He tells us all we need to know about offshoring and alternative energy sources and the working stiff:
I once took a course from a Nobel Prize winner. But this is the only Nobel Prize winner I’ve seen playing electric guitar while people shouted angrily at him for betraying folk music.
Here’s just one example of why Dylan deserves the Nobel Prize:
Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow
There are, of course, hundreds more.
Here’s an article about a moderately interesting study showing that people who get upset about grammar errors are, you know, kind of jerks:
Scientists have found that people who constantly get bothered by grammatical errors online have “less agreeable” personalities than those who just let them slide.
And those friends who are super-sensitive to typos on your Facebook page? Psychological testing reveals they’re generally less open, and are also more likely to be judging you for your mistakes than everyone else. In other words, they’re exactly who you thought they were.
So, my wonderful kid is home for Easter, and he says: “I think I’ll go lay down.” What is a father to do? Constantly correct your kid’s grammar, and maybe he’ll think “Maybe I’ll lay down somewhere else next Easter.” Ignore his errors, and you are obviously failing as a parent. My response was to sort of mutter the correct usage and hope my kid learned something.
Of course, the lay/lie distinction is clearly on its way out. I just bought a Fitbit. Good for me! Here’s a paragraph from the manual:
While it may track stats such as steps and floors when placed in a pocket or backpack, it is most accurate on the wrist. For all-day wear, your Charge HR should usually rest a finger’s width below your wrist bone and lay flat (as you’d normally wear a watch).
Should I worry about Fitbit’s quality control if they let that use of “lay” into their documentation? Probably not.
Anyway, I’ll give Bob Dylan the final word. I have a feeling that Dylan knew the difference between “lay” and “lie” perfectly well, but just liked the sound of “lay” better. Geniuses can do that.
To get us all into the holiday spirit, here is the video for Dylan’s “Must Be Santa”:
As a bonus, here’s a reindeer we saw at the Church Street Market in Burlington, Vermont last weekend:
Am I the only one who is a little creeped out by this? Dylan himself doesn’t looks particularly happy:
Here he is in 1964 singing “With God on Our Side”:
Didn’t seem too happy about America back then. Here he is croaking “The Times They Are A’Changin'” at the White House:
Yes, the times sure have changed.