Bob Dylan apologises for “error in judgement” in printing false signatures in his book

“Using a machine was an error in judgment and I want to rectify it immediately,” Dylan wrote of the auto-pen controversy.

Bob Dylan has apologised for printing false signatures in his book, The Philosophy Of Modern Song. The musician took to social media over the weekend to address the controversy — which saw him use a mechanical pen to replicate his signature across 900 copies of his book — saying he “want[s] to rectify it immediately.

Dylan said that it was only the 2019 versions of the book which used the machine signature, during which time he was suffering from a bout of vertigo. The condition, coupled with the ongoing pandemic, made it “impossible to sign anything and the vertigo didn’t help,” Dylan wrote. Versions of the book with Dylan’s supposed hand-drawn signature would go on to fetch $600. 

Credit: Simon & Schuster

Simon & Schuster, the publishing house behind The Philosophy Of Modern Song, was initially reluctant to offer refunds once the use of the auto-pen was discovered, but last week conceded that all purchasers would receive an “immediate refund”. Dylan mentioned as much in his statement, writing that “using a machine was an error in judgment and I want to rectify it immediately. I’m working with Simon & Schuster and my gallery partners to do just that.”

Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Dylan continued: “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 signing sessions, and we could not find a safe and workable way to complete what I needed to do while the virus was raging. So, during the pandemic, it was impossible to sign anything and the vertigo didn’t help. With contractual deadlines looming, the idea of using an auto-pen was suggested to me, along with the assurance that this kind of thing is done ‘all the time’ in the art and literary worlds.” 

The singer’s mention of vertigo marks the first time the condition has been revealed to the public. The Philosophy Of Modern song contains 66 of Dylan’s essays about a range of songs from different artists, including Nina Simone, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Bing Crosby and Clash, among others.