The New York Times stirred up a bit of controversy when they reported that a number of lyrics on Modern Times had apparently been lifted by Bob Dylan from Civil War era poet Henry Timrod. This followed the borrowing of several lines on Love and Theft from an obscure novel by Japanese writer Junichi Saga.
Serious fans of Bob Dylan, and of folk and blues music in general, consider this much ado about nothing. This sort of music is passed down through generations like an oral tradition, with each new artist building on what he borrows wholesale from those who’ve inspired him. Dylan has done that from day one, twisting together new songs from the melodies and text of time-worn classics.