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Sunday, October 15, 2006
Which popular musician do lawyers and judges quote most? According to a report today on WNYC's "On the Media," it's Bob Dylan (whose lyrics, coincidentally, are the subject of today's "Word" column in Ideas).
The top 10 also include the Beatles and the Stones, Woody Guthrie and Joni Mitchell, and Paul Simon, both solo and with Garfunkel. But author Alex B. Long doesn't just report the rankings. His analysis, online at the Berkeley Electronic Press, also covers the demographics of musical taste:
While it is unlikely that the volume of Tupac, 50 Cent, or Ludacris lyrics will ever rival those of Bob Dylan in legal scholarship . . . "rap music vernacular" will become more prevalent as the legal profession becomes more diverse.
And what makes a lyricist quotable:
[Chuck] Berry has been dubbed the poet laureate of rock 'n' roll, yet his lyrics are rarely used in legal writing. This may be because his poetry is often though of as the poetry of cars, girls, and being young and bored. Important themes all, but only infrequently do they find their way into the courtrooms.
While the music of the Beatles . . . transcends any number of age or cultural barriers, the music of Pink Floyd is not nearly so universally loved. In order to be effective, a metaphor must not only be descriptive, but it must be easily accessible. . . . The "Another Brick in the Wall" reference is likely to be lost on a sizable portion of the readers and may, in fact, be off-putting.