Japanese author says book inspiration for Dylan songs

— A Japanese writer said Tuesday he was flattered to learn that passages from one of his books apparently found their way into Bob Dylan's lyrics.

In the song "Floater" from his 2001 album, "Love and Theft," Dylan croons: "My old man, he's like some feudal lord, got more lives than a cat." He also sings, "I'm not quite as cool or forgiving as I sound" and then, "Sometimes somebody wants you to give something up, And tears or not, it's too much to ask."

On page 6 of Junichi Saga's 1989 book "Confessions of a Yakuza," the protagonist recalls: "My old man would sit there like a feudal lord." Later, he says: "I'm not as cool or forgiving as I might have sounded." On page 182, he says: "Tears or not, though, that was too much to ask."

It was unclear whether Dylan intentionally lifted any material. Dylan's publicist in New York had no immediate comment Tuesday.

A month ago, Saga, a 62-year-old physician who has written 15 books, had no more than a vague idea of the legendary singer-songwriter.

"I had heard his name before, but I wasn't familiar with his music," Saga said in a telephone interview from his home in Tsuchiura. "I'm ecstatic that such an influential singer was inspired by what I wrote."

Saga, whose book appeared in English in 1991, said he heard about the similarities between his work and Dylan's about a month ago from a reporter from The Wall Street Journal, which reported the story Tuesday.

The practitioner of Chinese medicine said the revelation was surprising.

"My book hasn't even sold that well, and it's out of print in Japan," said Saga. He estimates the book, which was also translated into German, French and Portuguese, earned him about 1 million yen, or $8,475.

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