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[Xmca-l] Re: Dylan at the super bowl
Dylan was also excoriated by his folk fan base when he first played electric instruments in the 1960s, so the "sellout" accusation has been offered before. I'm not in the business of telling musicians how to make a living, so am not making that judgment myself. But Dylan has always been an iconoclast.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Peter Hourdequin
Sent: Monday, February 03, 2014 6:31 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Dylan at the super bowl
I also found this puzzling when I read about it today, but I must say that my first reaction was mixed feelings. Patriotism has many varieties, and the "buy American" message is quite different from supporting American imperialism. Back on his 1983 album, Infidels, Dylan took a fairly straight-forward stand on these issues in two songs. On "Sweetheart like you" he paraphrases Samuel Johnson when he sings:
"They say that patriotism is the last refuge / To which a scoundrel clings. / Steal a little and they throw you in jail, /Steal a lot and they make you king. / "
Then on a later track entitled Union Sundown, he writes:
"Well, you know, lots of people complainin' that there is no work. / I say, "Why you say that for / When nothin' you got is U.S.-made?" /They don't make nothin' here no more, / You know, capitalism is above the law. /It say, "It don't count 'less it sells." / When it costs too much to build it at home/ You just build it cheaper someplace else./
Well, it's sundown on the union /And what's made in the U.S.A. /Sure was a good idea / 'Til greed got in the way."
In this light, Dylan's Super Bowl message is consistent with a pro-American worker stance that I think was shared by Pete Seeger as well. Still, shilling for an American automaker on the most sacred day of America's consumerist culture does leave me with mixed feeling about the artist and his role. But since Dylan has been part of American consumer culture for five decades, I think the argument that he is selling out some principle that he once avowed is less than convincing.
> On Feb 3, 2014, at 7:49 PM, Peter Smagorinsky <email@example.com> wrote:
> Apologies to Pete Seeger......
> For those of you who don't follow American football, the "Super Bowl"-the championship game-is the mecca of US advertising. In rather a surprise, Bob Dylan was featured in a lengthy ad for Chrysler, the car manufacturer. It appears at http://pitchfork.com/news/53797-watch-bob-dylan-stars-in-chryslers-super-bowl-commercial/. Here's one media account:
> BOB DYLAN'S SUPER BOWL: Legendary musician Bob Dylan appeared in a Chrysler ad that had been kept tightly under wraps. Dylan walked through the streets of Detroit explaining that the city made cars and that "cars made America." In case you didn't get the point, he goes on to explain in his familiar raspy voice: "Let Germany brew your beer, let Switzerland make your watch, let Asia assemble your phone. We will build your car." It was the second appearance of the night for Dylan, if you count his popular 1960s tune of "I Want You" that played in the Chobani ad.
> Just to be clear: I don't begrudge musicians' efforts to make a living. I've read some musicians' autobiographies, and unless you're an established star or have written something that brings in royalties over time, life is a constant struggle. One of the greatest saxophone players of his generation, Maceo Parker, took a two-year hiatus and worked as a garbage collector to earn enough to support his family (James Brown, his original employer, was notoriously tight-fisted and cold-hearted with his band members). So, when musicians "sell out," often they're just trying to earn a steady living.
> Dylan's a little different, given his songwriting royalties, record sales, and concert revenues. Once a social critic of the first order, he went as patriotic mainstream as possible in last night's ad. Compare to Pete Seeger, who quit the Weavers because he felt they were too oriented to producing a hit.
> I must say, this one puzzled me.