Decoding Dylan: Bob Dylan’s ‘Da Vinci Code’ Revealed
Researchers say they’ve uncovered more than 1,000 items lifted from other authors in Dylan’s ‘Chronicles.’ And that’s just the beginning.
For half a century, fans of rock’s enigmatic poet laureate have picked apart his words—and even his garbage—searching relentlessly for hidden meaning. Now a small band of Dylan sleuths led by an Albuquerque disc jockey may finally have found the key … but, to what?
“Dylan has hidden many puzzles, jokes, secret messages, secondary meanings, and bizarre subtexts in his book,” Warmuth asserted in the essay. “Dylan borrows from American classics and travel guides, fiction and nonfiction about the Civil War, science fiction, crime novels, both Thomas Wolfe and Tom Wolfe, Hemingway, books on photography, songwriting, Irish music, soul music, and a book about the art of sideshow banter.”
“He dipped into both a book favored by a nineteenth-century occult society and a book about the Lewinsky scandal by Showgirls screen writer Joe Eszterhas,” Warmuth wrote.
But while the scholarship was solid, it has been slow to gain acceptance. “Some people argue that those searching for these borrowings are engaged in a sort of ‘gotcha’ game — finding these things and leaving it at that with no further analysis beyond, ‘Well, Dylan’s a thief,’” says Kinney. “But Scott [Warmuth] is trying to take it to the next step by digging into why Dylan uses the borrowed phrases that he does, and how he uses them. And that’s the most interesting work to my mind. It really could keep people occupied for a hundred years.”
By Chris Francescani