“I Had to Rearrange Their Faces and Give Them All Another Name” The Re-Packaging of Bob Dylan


The autumn of 2007 saw the marketing of Bob Dylan by Sony/BMG like no previous year. Of course promotion has happened every time Dylan releases anything, but this year smacked of product with a corporate touch. Sometime around the end of the summer, visitors to Dylan’s official website, were greeted not by the usual home page but by a page proclaiming in huge letters that essentially took up the entire screen, “Dylan 07,” which turned out to be a new retrospective set spanning Dylan’s career. Actually the album is simply titled “Dylan,” and is available in three formats, a single disc sampler, a 3 CD digipak, and a cloth-bound box set. An I-tunes bonus was a remix by Mark Ronson of the Blonde On Blonde classic, “Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine).” All this was accompanied by invitations to fans to send in stories, participate in a video, and add their own slogans to the cards Dylan tosses away in the “Subterranean Homesick Blues” video. At the bottom of the page was a slogan: EVERYTHING EXCEPT COMPROMISE. To long-time Dylan fans, it seemed exactly like compromise.

On various the Dylan internet forums across the Internet, the reaction was generally negative, with threads along the lines of “Who isn’t buying Dylan O7?” Most fans had everything on it several times over and there were no outtakes or new live tracks included. Only a completist would buy this one. This set was obviously intended for those who came aboard for Dylan’s last studio release, Modern Times.

Not lost in all this was the announcement of a new Dylan DVD, chronicling Dylan’s performances at the Newport Folk Festival, from 1963 to 1965. Filmed by Murray Lerner who directed the ’60s Newport documentary, Festival, this was Sony/BMG’s gift to the fans, as it promised full-length versions of songs briefly sampled in Festival as well as many other not only never seen, but never heard but never heard as well legendary 1965 electric set which not only changed the Newport Folk Festival, but music in general. The track list was eventually leaked before the DVD was released, and the usual forums expressed consternation at what wasn’t included.

Article at CounterPunch

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Peter Stone Brown

Peter Stone Brown is a Songwriter and Journalist.

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