This Writer Wins the Prize for Best Bob Dylan-SparkNotes Coverage

A few song lyrics, re-imagined

There’s been no shortage of Bob Dylan Nobel Prize speech coverage this week. Thanks to the keen eye of writer and blogger Ben Greenman, followed by the perspicacious digging of author and Slate contributor Andrea Pitzer, the world now has ample evidence of one of the most prodigious uses of a SparkNotes study guide. For a 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature acceptance speech.

For Fishbowl’s money, the best commentary of the week about all this belongs to a rather unlikely candidate: Dr. Cory Franklin, a physician based in Wilmette, Ill. and author of the 2015 book Cook County ICU: 30 Years of Unforgettable Patients and Odd Cases. In his Chicago Tribune riff, the M.D. notes previous instances wherein Dylan has been accused of plagiarism. One song allegedly contained the work of Civil War-era poet Henry Timrod; another sourced Japanese writer Junichi Saga.

Franklin then gleefully re-magines the lyrics of nine Dylan songs, based on this week’s events. Here’s what he leads off with:

“The Times, They Are A-Changin’,” 1964

Come writers and artists / Who create with your pen / And don’t scrutinize too closely / Your chance won’t come again / I’ll just use your material / Is borrowing someone’s words such a sin? / And there’s no tellin’ who I will borrow / For the author now / Will be forgotten someday / For Nobel Prizes are for tomorrow

The rest of the good doctor’s ditties are equally fun. Tribune editors may have done Franklin a bit of a disservice with the headline; “9 Bob Dylan Songs, Revisited” in no way properly teases the fun that lies ahead.

Barnes & Noble paid $3.5 million for SparkNotes in 2001. This week, they got at least that much in free publicity.