The big new story this week, of course, is the selling of Bob Dylan's song catalog to Universal Music Publishing for (reportedly) $300 million! (A nice chunk of change for a lifetime of work that contains over 600 songs ... which works out to be about half a million dollars per song, of which maybe only 25% of those will be familiar enough and marketable enough to capitalize upon ... still quite an investment ... for what will hopefully become a very lucrative return.)
Most would probably agree that these songs will continue to generate MANY millions more in the years to come, long after all of us are gone. (Every future generation of Bob Dylan's family should be set up for life!)
Dylan has always been considered a modern day poet ...
But how will these songs now be used in order to reap the benefits of new royalties?
Forgotten Hits Reader Chuck Buell fears for the worse ...
Are we about to become inundated with Bob Dylan sung television commercials ... for potentially EVERY product under the sun? Will some of the most prolific and insightful lyrics of all time now be used to hawk mouthwash, deodorant and life insurance? Or will someone like Sirius / XM pay dearly to create The Bob Dylan channel so that these songs can live on forever in their proper context and continue to pay tribute to the genius who created them?
Word is that Bob Dylan brokered this deal himself ... and it is interesting to point out that the deal doesn't include any NEW material that Dylan may write from this point forward.
Now some might say, "What's the difference? His best years are behind him ... How much more impact is he going to have? ... For $300 Million, he doesn't ever have to write another word again!!!"
And there may be some logic to that way of thinking ...
Except for the fact that Dylan's latest album "Rough And Rowdy Ways," topped the chart earlier this year ... and recent songs like "Murder Most Foul," a 17-minute gem about the Kennedy assassination, have been all the buzz of late. (Dylan was also awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature a few years back ... and the success of his last LP made him the ONLY artist in history to score a Top 40 Album of new material in the '60's, the '70's, the '80's, the '90's, the 2000's, 2010's and now the 2020's ... that's a seven decade run!!! ... so he just may be hotter than ever!)
That plus the fact that new generations will continue to discover his music for decades to come ... long after all of us are gone ... sparking new collections and releases and downloads that could go on (via whatever medium will exist in our future) forever more.
He has already influenced more of our rock idols than one can count, challenging them to push the envelope just a little bit farther as a means of enlightening their audience.
Still, there are some concerns ...
From Forgotten Hits Reader and Contributor Chuck Buell:
Bob Dylan has sold his entire song catalog to Universal Music Group, which means that more than 600 of his copyrighted songs written over nearly 60 years are now owned by them.
I’m afraid that could mean licensing for commercial use will soon follow.
If so, it shouldn’t be long before Twenty-something Ad Agency Creative Types who don’t have a clue what each song really means will lift portions of them for use as background music in TV Commercials!
For instance, don't be surprised if you should hear ~~~
“Blowing in the Wind” for Trane Air Conditioning
“Like a Rolling Stone” for Travelocity
“Mr. Tambourine Man” for Gibson Musical Instruments
“Rainy Day Women” for L.L. Bean Women’s Rain Coat Line
“Positively Fourth Street” for Garmin GPS Navigation Devices
“Lay Lady Lay” for Sealy Mattresses
I think if, and when, Dylan were to hear any such kind of blasphemy of his songs, he would quietly exclaim in that signature voice of his, “It Ain’t Me, Babe.”
Personally, sometimes I feel it’s sad to see “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”
~ CB ~
I've stated numerous times before that I never really quite "got" the whole Bob Dylan thing ... and believe me, I've tried ... MANY times. I have always felt that I needed a deeper appreciation and better understanding of all that he has given us ... but for some reason, this music has just never really clicked for me.
I think a big part of that may be the delivery ...
Other than the occasional exception ("Lay Lady Lay," "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"), I've always had a hard time listening to his voice.
That being said, there are any number of Bob Dylan favorites of mine as sung by OTHER artists. (So much so that we once did an entire week-long series about it in Forgotten Hits many years ago.)
In fact, I've often thought about running that series again ...
It dates back to 2004 ... (Say What!?!?! Can you believe it?!?!?) ... several years before we finally got around to creating a website ... back in the days when Forgotten Hits was only distributed by email ... so it would take a little bit of work to recreate it ... but if time permits, I just may try to pull this all together for after the first of the year ... so stay tuned to Forgotten Hits for updates.
Meanwhile, congratulations, Bob Dylan ...
What a career!!!