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Marshall Fine Headshot

Bob Dylan, Corporate Shill

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2014-02-07-bobdylanchrysler200commercialsuperbowl300x250.jpg

I don't want to make too big a deal about Bob Dylan appearing in a Chrysler commercial during the Super Bowl and yet, I'm afraid, it is a big deal.

It followed closely on the heels of the death of Pete Seeger, who helped start the whole folk-music groundswell that buoyed Dylan to critical acclaim and, almost as quickly, to the top of the pop charts. There are many things that connect Seeger and Dylan, not the least of which is their admiration, even idolization, of Woody Guthrie.

And as I watched the commercial -- "Is there anything more American than America?" Dylan gnomically asked -- I thought, would Woody Guthrie, voice of the working man, have done a commercial for a major multinational corporation?

No, of course not.

Keep in mind that, just a few minutes earlier, one of Dylan's songs, I Want You, had served as background for a Chobani yogurt commercial. Still, there's a difference between a Dylan song as background -- and the man himself, looking into the camera and shilling for a car company.

Facebook and Twitter were full of apologists for Dylan, talking about how he's always marched to his own beat, how this is his celebration of being an American (as though capitalism is an inherently patriotic calling), how he's supporting an American company that had struggled and survived (thanks to the Obama administration).

Sorry, I don't buy it. Everybody, it seems, has their price.

And yet, there are those who didn't - and don't (at least until they do).


This commentary continues on my website.