Today’s Wall Street Journal brings us the latest news of Bob Dylan:
As part of a move to bring Mr. Dylan’s music to new audiences, the enigmatic singer-songwriter, one of the last cultural figures from the 1960s to continue to live outside the boundaries of mainstream pop culture, is making his first appearance as a celebrity pitchman — for Limited Brands’ Victoria’s Secret.
A mustachioed Mr. Dylan, 62 years old, appears in a new television ad for the sexy chain’s “Angels” line while models cavort to a remixed version of his 1997 song “Love Sick.” Mr. Dylan spent two days on a shoot in Venice after Victoria’s Secret approached his label, Sony’s Columbia Records. The concept was suggested by Leslie Wexner, Limited Brands’ chairman and chief executive, says Ed Razek, Limited Brands’ president and chief marketing officer.
The article provides much material to mull over for those of us who know every syllable of Mr. Dylan’s canonical works. We appreciate the use to which the Journal’s headline and caption writers have put their knowledge of the key works: “Bob Dylan Gets Tangled Up in Pink/Victoria’s Secret Campaign Drafts Counterculture Hero; Just Like the Rolling Stones.”
Readers unfamiliar with such canonical works as “Mr. Tambourine Man” will not readily think of advertising or product placement possibilties in reading an utterly brilliant verse such as this one from that song:
Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind,
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves,
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach,
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.
The Journal’s article on the Victoria’s Secret advertisement concludes on an appropriately quizzical note:
Mr. Dylan’s actual presence in an ad is more striking than most. “When I think in terms of Bob Dylan, I’m not seeing a pin-up personality,” says Tom Julian, a trend analyst with Publicis Groupe’s Fallon Worldwide. “You are getting an image of Bob Dylan tied with supermodels. The feeling is, ‘Huh, what does that mean?'” The laconic Mr. Dylan wasn’t available to comment, and his manager, Jeff Rosen, referred inquiries to Columbia Records.