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Bob Dylan's Genius

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by Jon Friedman
February 2, 2014 10:04 PM
2 Comments
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Bob Dylan, Made in America Icon

Did you see Bob Dylan's commercial for Detroit and Chrysler tonight during the Super Bowl broadcast?

Maybe not.

But did you hear about it?

Of course, you did.

And that's the whole point. Bob Dylan has a genius for making an impression. He could be the head of marketing for my company, any time. Dylan is a master of re-invention. For more than 50 years, he has been confounding people with the introduction of a New Bob Dylan. Now he has emerged as a Made in America icon.

Who is talking about Seattle's one-sided victory in the Super Bowl? The game wasn't compelling. Dylan's commercial was.

Whatever he does or says, the man has impact. People are always talking about him.

Based on what I'm reading on social media sites, a lot of people are bewildered by Dylan's decision to appear in commercial blatantly supporting the fortunes of the U.S. auto industry and the city where cars are made, Detroit.

It's understandable that people are confused. They're also very angry at Dylan for "selling out." Of course, they are.

Dylan has profited before by selling his songs in TV commercials, so this is not new. I used to wince when pop stars sold their songs for commercial purposes, too.It appalled me. But by doing this, the songwriters are keeping the songs alive and introducing them to a new audience. And if they're making a pile of money in the process, so be it.

Dylan has long had a love for Detroit. He had relatives there as a kid. His favorite baseball team is the Detroit Tigers. When he was a kid, Detroit was a big deal, for a kid form tiny Hibbing, Minnesota. Of course, Dylan supports Detroit.

So, go ahead, America. Go ahead, Facebook Nation and Twitter-sphere. Knock Dylan all you want. The man knows exactly what he's doing. 

You might say, he was never known to make a foolish move.


Jon Friedman is the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)Invention, Shunning the Naysayers, and Creating a Personal Revolution" (Penguin, 2012

http://www.amazon.com/Forget-About-Today-invention-Revolution/dp/0399537546






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2 Comments

  • Linda W | February 3, 2014 11:30 AMReply

    Enjoyed this essay on Dylan/s commercial. Having raised our family in Hibbing, I was reminded of how aware people in Hibbing and the rest of the Range are of Detroit, Pittsburg and where ever the iron that is mined here ( and provides the livelihood for most of us) is sent. We are aware of how they are doing, because we see it in this mine closing this line for one month or two or a year, wondering if unemployment will last, if the merchant will be able to let you charge until they call you back to work. The trickle down affects every one of us. We know that when the mines have been closed too long to watch for the friend or child who may have suffered the frustrations of a desperate head of the family. Made in America is a concept that is worthy of more thought and discussion. Bob Dylan always confounds me, but I'm glad he does.

  • hans altena | February 3, 2014 5:21 AMReply

    As a European I can only support your view. Detroit now must go to the heart of any one, a city so big and important now in awful decline. And sure, what an act Dylan throws in the face of the US once more, showing its power and corruption...

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