Cord LA Playlist Monday: Dylan’s Roots

Hello internet! I’m Chris Piccaro, a music supervisor at Cord. As anyone in our LA office can tell you, I am a huge fan of Bob Dylan (I am known to binge on his music which usually stems from re-watching D. A. Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back). I also love to explore and research the origins of things, especially songs and lyrics. A natural combination of these two loves has led me to dig out the origins of Dylan’s earlier work. I’ve amassed a playlist (currently 3.5 hours, 58 songs and growing) of various Dylan songs preceded by the song I believe to be the origin. For you, dear readers, I have condensed it to a more consumable 1 hour starter kit. Many of the origin songs predate recorded music, so I found the earliest recordings Spotify has available.

Topically speaking, it’s interesting to learn that Dylan has claimed these compositions as 100% his own (check for yourself on SESAC’s repertoire search), although he’s sometimes credited as an arranger (I presume this is the case if the song had clear ties to a song that was in the public domain when he recorded his version). Musical copyright protection has changed a lot in the 50+ years since Dylan started writing songs (from blues musicians finally claiming their original compositions to the more recent “Blurred Lines” case). It makes me wonder: if Dylan released these songs now, how would the rights be handled today?


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