Chinese soldiers play soccer in front of Beijing's iconic Worker's Gymnasium, which will host Bob Dylan's first-ever concert in China tomorrow, on April 5, 2011. Last year Chinese authorities refused to allow the legendary protest singer Bob Dylan to play concerts inside China. Chinese censors were wary of his politically charged lyrics, which inspired a generation of Americans in the 1960s and '70s to question authority in a way that is forbidden in China. Officials said the singer would have to strictly abide by an agreed playlist. UPI/Stephen Shaver | License Photo
NEW YORK, May 9 (UPI) -- Legal experts say the song lyrics of Bob Dylan are cited more than those of any other musician in court briefs and opinions, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
Michael Perlin, a New York Law School professor who used Dylan lyrics as titles for more than 50 articles published in law journals, said Dylan is so often quoted due to the impact he had during the young years of U.S. lawyers and judges, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
Alex Long, a University of Texas law professor who has researched the impact of politically charged music on the legal system, echoed Perlin's sentiment.
"Everyone wants to believe that the music they listen to says something about who they are," Long said.
"Being a judge is a pretty cloistered existence, having to crank out these opinions in isolation. Dylan was popular at the time they were coming of age and trying to figure out who they were," he said. "The chance to throw in a line from your favorite artist is tempting, a chance to let your freak flag fly."
The songwriter's work has made it into Supreme Court rulings, once by Chief Justice John Roberts in a 2008 ruling on billing firms hired by payphone operators. He paraphrased a lyric from "Like a Rolling Stone" -- "when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose," he wrote.
Dylan's words again impacted the court last year when Justice Antonin Scalia wrote an opinion criticizing colleagues for failing to rule on a question of employee e-mail privacy, writing: "'The times they are a-changin' is a feeble excuse for disregard of duty."