There wasn't much to talk about in terms of football by the second half of last night's Super Bowl. So the attention turned to the commercials, even more than usual. And one commercial that got tons of attention was an extended Chrysler ad featuring the usually-reclusive Bob Dylan telling us, in as many words — America rules. Buy an American car. Specifically, buy this Chrysler.
For Dylan-philes like myself, this was a somewhat disturbing sight to see. The man who never compromised (which, admittedly, is a romantic myth) was now just another rah-rah American corporate pitch man. But was it really that bad? Can a Dylan superfan actually justify this most egregious sell out?
1. He actually sold out a while ago.
Back in 2004 Dylan teamed up with Victoria's Secret, because nothing sells sexy lingerie like a 60-something dude with a pencil mustache. In terms of selling out, this was an inspired and hilarious choice, but it was still selling out.
2. The Chrysler ad was actually less offensive than the Chobani yogurt ad.
It didn't get as much attention, but if you're going to be mad at a Dylan ad from yesterday, make it the clip that featured an essential “Blonde on Blonde” track “I Want You” in a dumb clip trying to sell you tainted yogurt. When I think of “I Want You,” I want to picture a strung out Dylan in Nashville recording at 3 a.m., not some bear destroying a convenience store. This commercial ruins a classic; the Chrysler ad just adds a little shame to a minor late-career song.
3. It was nice to actually hear his voice!
Anyone who's seen Dylan on his Neverending Tour goes in with some expectations, chief among them: his voice is shot, it's going to be difficult to recognize some songs thanks to new arrangements and he will not address the crowd at all. When have you actually heard the man speak over the past few years, save for Martin Scorsese's “No Direction Home” documentary? Sure, I'd rather hear him say things that aren't straight out of some jingoistic pitchman handbook, but still.
4. The man's defining album is named after a highway, he owes it to the automobile industry.
His previous ad was for Cadillac. He's simply working his way through American car brands, alphabetically.
5. Going corporate is the new going electric.
Or the new going country. Or the new going Christian. Or going Christmas. Just the latest in a career of keeping everyone off balance in an attempt to. . .
OK, I give up. This one cannot be explained away.
It's easy to see without looking too far that not much is really sacred.