Bob Dylan and Paul Clayton

Bring You Chickens

One of Bob Dylan’s greatest songs is “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” (1962). Apparently, Dylan learned the tune from Paul Clayton’s song “Who’s Goin’ to Buy You Ribbons When I’m Gone?” (1960). And Clayton seems to have gotten at least the lyrical idea for his song from an older song called “Who’s Gonna Buy Your Chickens When I’m Gone.”

Here’s a passage from Spitz’s biography of Dylan:

A more delicate wrinkle arose of the authorship of “Don’t Think Twice.” No one complained about the lyric; it was so damn original that folksingers admitted losing sleep over it. But the melody had a familiar ring to it. Word began to spread that Bob had lifted it almost note for note from Paul Clayton’s ballad, “Who’s Gonna Buy Your Ribbon Saw.” That in itself wasn’t a contemptible offense. By definition, folk music encouraged an element of borrowing from sources to preserve…

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