It's widely believed that the Bob Dylan song "4th Time Around" was inspired by "Norwegian Wood" by The Beatles. However, music producer Al Kooper claims that John Lennon heard live renditions of "4th Time Around," earlier. Is Kooper's claim true?

In this video (at 44:25) of an interview with producer Al Kooper, Kooper tells this story:

When we were running it down I said to Bob flat out, I said, "don't you think you're going to get a little shit about this from The Beatles?" and he said, "No, I think I should've given them shit about Norwegian Wood." So I think it's the other way around. They heard [4th time around] live... and I think they took that song and stole it from him.


Norwegian Wood was recorded by The Beatles in October 1965.

4th Time Around was recorded by Dylan in February 1966 (and released in May). I can't find any information regarding whether Dylan played this song live at any point before October 1965.

However, it is possible that Al Kooper is mistaken about why Dylan said "I should've given them shit about Norwegian Wood." Lennon and McCartney were starting to grow into more complex melodies at the time of writing the song, and many fans and musicians drew parallels to Dylan's work and felt The Beatles had been inspired by Dylan. That Dylan felt The Beatles were copying him would be enough motivation to "give them shit".

Rather than Norwegian Wood inspiring 4th Time Around, which was recorded later, Dylan's song seemed to have been written as a warning to Lennon away from co-opting Dylan's style and devices.

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    So... this is basically just speculation. It's interesting speculation, but it doesn't add any new supported facts. It would be improved significantly by evidence to support "many fans and musicians drew parallels to Dylan's work and felt The Beatles had been inspired by Dylan", and/or other indications that Norwegian Wood was in some way more like Dylan's earlier work than it was like the Beatles' earlier work. – Ben Barden Sep 21 '17 at 13:20
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    It's a summary of the respective wiki articles and their sources - some of which analyse the songs in more detail than I'd care to write. The only speculation I can see is Kooper's miscomprehension. Ultimately, the question was if John Lennon wrote Norwegian Wood after hearing 4th Time Around - the current evidence shows that Norwegian Wood was written and recorded before 4th Time Around, so it is unlikely unless someone can place Lennon at a Dylan gig playing a song he wouldn't record for months – user2276 Sep 21 '17 at 14:43
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    Yeah, but "was there a Dylan gig playing a song he wouldn't record for months" was basically the gist of the original question. Also, wiki articles in and of themselves aren't generally taken as strong evidence around here. If you could pull in (and, preferably, quote) a few of those sources with credible statements supporting the analysis you claim, that would fix the issue. – Ben Barden Sep 21 '17 at 16:04

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