legendary – Mysterious and legendary — The Pulitzer Prize-winning musician issued a rare public statement on Friday following a controversy over signed copies of his new book, “The Philosophy of Modern Song.”
Simon & Schuster, publisher of Dylan’s book of essays on more than 60 pop songs, is offering fans the chance to purchase a hand-signed special edition for $600. Accompanying each copy was a letter from Jonathan Karp, CEO of the publisher, which confirmed the authenticity of the signature.
Only, it turns out they weren’t original at all. Suspicious fans began comparing their autographed copies on social media, only to notice that all of the autographs looked exactly the same — quite an accomplishment if Dylan himself had actually signed all or so of the reported copies.
That’s because he didn’t. In what seems like the least Dylan-esque move imaginable, a A long message on Facebook Explaining that he suffered from vertigo throughout the pandemic, which – along with coronavirus precautions – made signing several books a difficult, if not impossible, task. So he used an automaton, a contraption that automatically copies a person’s signature, to sign all those books.
“I’ve learned that there has been some controversy over signatures on some of my recent art prints and on a limited edition Philosophy of Modern Song. I’ve hand-signed every art print over the years, and there’s never been an issue.” However, in 2019 I had a bad case of vertigo and it continued into the pandemic years. It takes a crew of five working in close quarters with me to help enable these autograph sessions, and we couldn’t find a safe and practical way to complete what I needed to do during an outbreak. Therefore, during the epidemic, it was impossible to sign anything and the vertigo did not help. With contractual deadlines looming, the idea of a machine pen was pitched to me, along with the assertion that this sort of thing is done “all the time” in the art and literary world.
“Using a machine was an error of judgment that I want to correct immediately. I am working with Simon & Schuster and my gallery partners to do exactly that.”
Simon & Schuster spoke out about the incident last week, posting an apology on Instagram and offering to provide full refunds to anyone who bought the special edition.
“To those who purchased The Philosophy of Modern Song limited edition, we want to apologize,” Read the note. “As it turns out, the limited edition books contain Bob’s original signature, but in replica form. We are promptly addressing this by providing each purchaser with an immediate refund.”
Dylan, of course, is no stranger to controversy. At times, it seemed as though he was actively courting her, as with his infamous electric group at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, and his appearance at 2004 Victoria’s Secret adand allegations that he borrowed parts from it Nobel Prize acceptance speech from SparkNotes (Who is he Gave by registration after skipping the official ceremony).
But he rarely explained himself or addressed the so-called controversies directly. Confounding everyone has always been something of his forte, and for many fans, this is just one of his many enduring appeals.
An earlier version of this article gave the incorrect title to Bob Dylan’s new book. It is the “philosophy of modern song”, not the “philosophy of modern sound”. This version has been corrected.
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