Super Bowl: How Bob Dylan Jumped From Counterculture Icon to Car Salesman

Bob Dylan
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Bob Dylan has moved from “Positively 4th Street” to absolutely Madison Avenue.

By appearing in a longer-than-usual commercial for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles during the Super Bowl Sunday night – and allowing the use of his wordy 1966 single “I Want You” in a separate spot for Chobani yogurt – has cemented an idea that few would have ascribed to him when he first came to prominence in the 1960s: He’s for sale.

“You can’t import the heart and soul of every man and woman working on the line.” Dylan said Sunday night in the latest of a series of Chrysler Super Bowl ads meant to spark pride in America and the cars it makes. “Let Asia assemble your phone…We will build your car.”

Dylan’s likeness and music have appeared in advertising several times in the recent past – he most notably allowed Pepsi to do a mash-up of his “Forever Young” with a new version by in the 2009 broadcast of Super Bowl XLIII. So it’s not as if jaws should drop at the sight of seeing the man who once railed against “”Advertising signs that con you/Into thinking you’re the one/That can do what’s never been done/That can win what’s never been won.” But his appearance in such a significant commercial effort marks once and for all the fact that this one-time counterculture figure has been completely absorbed by the stuff he once seemed to keep at a tremendous distance.

Indeed, advertisers would do well to enlist Bob Dylan. “Having earned his stripes resisting ‘the man,’ he has now become a cultural icon representing unqualified authenticity,” said John Covach, director of the Institute for Popular Music at the University of Rochester. “Partly because his music is no longer current pop, there is no risk of fans perceiving him of being co-opted by big business. His position in music history assured, Dylan stands as an image of integrity, independence, and authenticity in a way that only a person with a long and established presence in pop culture can. I think fans will love seeing him. There will be no question of sell out, as there was at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, for instance. Dylan means quality.”

That’s a lesson many marketers have already learned. Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie retailer owned by LBrands, first tapped into the cult of Dylan by using his 1997 song “Love Sick” in a 2003 commercial – then upped the ante a year later by having the musician himself appear cavorting with models in a spot that debuted during Fox’s “American Idol.” Dylan is “so iconic and so arresting” said Ed Razek, the company’s chief marketing officer, told The Wall Street Journal at the time.

Since that time, Dylan has appeared in an ad for General Motors’ Cadillac, driving an Escalade. He lent Apple a boost in 2006 by allowing his silhouette – once a hallmark of the popular consumer-electronics company’s advertising – to appear in a spot for iTunes. Part of the appeal for him came, no doubt, from the fact the ad featured a song of his then-current album release, “Modern Times.” Most recently, he granted Jeep, also owned by Chrysler parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the right to use a rare 1962 recording of his version of “Motherless Children.”

Where the act may once have been seen as “selling out,” now it is often a means of survival. Put bluntly, with radio formats so narrow and music videos so out of vogue, musicians often have a tough time getting their work heard. For Dylan, an artist whose time in the spotlight was most intense in the 1960s, the feat is more difficult, even if he does continue to release albums that gain plaudits and criticial acclaim.

Creative Artists Agency, which represents Dylan, was unable to make executives available for immediate comment, and a representative for his manager, Jeff Kramer, did not respond to an email seeking additional information about the singer’s decision to work with Chrysler.

Dylan is not alone. The Who has allowed several of its most recognizeable tunes to appear in commercials. Wilco let most of the songs on its 2007 album, “Sky Blue Sky,” run in spots for Volkswagen. Even Billy Joel, whose songs have not been typically been fodder for marketing, let his 1977 hit “Just The Way You Are,” appear in a 2013 ad for The Gap. Perhaps the fact his daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, was singing the song helped him make up his mind.

Still, many of Dylan’s contemporaries stick to the belief their songs are made for a higher purpose than selling soda, cars or bras. “Ain’t singing for Pepsi/Ain’t singing for Coke/ I don’t sing for nobody/Makes me look like a joke.” Neil Young sang in his 1988 single, “This Note’s For You.” R.E.M., Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty also sit among the rock statesmen who eschew advertising. In 1987, Petty sued B.F. Goodrich for using a song in a tire commercial that sounded suspiciously similar to his tune “Mary’s New Car.”

Following those sentiments, some Dylanophiles are dismayed by his new commercial alliances, even if they aren’t his first. “While countercultural personalities have been used to sell products as far back as the 1960s, the idea of Dylan doing so was almost unfathomable,” said Jerald Podair, a professor of history and American studies at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. “Somewhere, Woody Guthrie, Dylan’s inspiration and muse, is shedding bitter tears.”

John Baky, a curator of a collection of Dylan material housed at Philadelphia’s LaSalle University, is among those who once expressed outrage at Dylan’s advertising pursuits. “I’m going to have to go blow my brains out,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 2004 upon hearing of Dylan’s appearance in the Victoria’s Secret spot. These days, he is more sanguine.

Those who express outrage don’t really understand the artist, Baky suggested in the hours leading up to the 2014 Super Bowl. After all, he has promoted himself and his music in eyebrow-raising ways for years, including documentary films, one of the earlier musician web sites and partnerships with The Band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and The Grateful Dead. “If the 100 million pairs of eyes are smart they will just sit back and enjoy his Super Bowl commercial for what it is – vintage Bob. And truly, I bet he really doesn’t care what anyone thinks,” said Baky. “That is why Dylan can be important to us and worthy of America – one way or another.”

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 95

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Mick McNulty says:

    Bought a Dylan song some months ago – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door – can’t access it on Windows 7 but can access many covers. You’re a sell-out, Bob. You became the man.

  2. Mike C. says:

    In the 60’s he was adamant about not being a “topical” singer even as he was singing topical songs. But he clearly did not want top be a movement leader. He can always be counted on to do the unexpected. It bothers me that he sell these products, but he certainly has every right to do it. What bothers me more is that by doing it he has to read these ridiculous scripts like “What’s more American than America?”. He’s Bob Dylan, for Christ’s sake! He has the gravitas to read it and say “Who wrote this crap? – Rewrite it!” And nobody is going to question him. That’s what bothers me most – not that he would endorse some product – but is he willing to read anything they give him to read? That’s how it came across to me.

  3. Richard O. says:

    What Dylan represented for many of us was a certain kind of authenticity. What is authenticity? That’s a long story, but it certainly has something to do with communicating somethintrue to yourself. Commercial advertising, by its very nature, is inauthentic. Chrysler is not interested in ‘American pride’ but in selling cars, It is inauthentically using the value of American pride and support for the American worker in order to make a profit. This is what is so sad.

  4. Papa G says:

    My favorite Dylan lyrics
    “If you’re lookin for a better set of wheels
    I will stand upon my head to get all deals
    I will stand upon my head til my ears are turning red
    Go see Cal! go see Cal! go see Cal!!!

  5. Papa G says:

    It’s Bob Zimmerman and his dog Spot!!!

  6. Papa G says:

    Would you buy a used car from this Man?

  7. Claudia R says:

    The title of the article is a sign of the author’s cluelessness. Dylan a counterculture icon? How long did you hybernate – 45 years? And anyway what’s wrong in supporting one’s economy and pushing Americans to buy their cars and hopefully also other products? Where is the contradiction, where is the betrayal of any ideals? Other artists when they go on tour have not one but ten major sponsors and Dylan never has any, how come nobody praises that kind of integrity?

  8. Aaron says:

    If any of you actually cared about the movement of the 1960s, then you’d feel disappointed, too. I feel like a lot of the people here were long ago exposed as frauds that never actually wanted change, and instead just wanted to smoke pot, get laid, listen to records, and then vote for Reagan. In that sense, it makes sense that you’d be quick to laud Bob Dylan for defending giant corporate America and jingoism… as it probably brings you some comfort and self-assurance regarding your own hollow and conviction-less journey through life.

    • dmacnlx says:

      Actually Aaron, I don’t think many people are ‘lauding’ Dylan for appearing in this ad. Although I’d be interested to hear how Chrysler line-workers feel about it. I doubt anyone thinks its an amazing piece of art. It is just a dumb ad after all. The title of the article is misleading, because he didn’t ‘jump’ from counterculture to car salesman. It was a long and artistically meandering path that Dylan’s taken over more than 54 years. Also, it doesn’t appear that he’s ‘defending giant corporate America and jingoism’ any more than he is defending working class America. Actually, the ad seems to be attempting to instil some degree of pride in American manufacturing. Is it really that horrible if not just the workers, but also Dylan, and the yes, the corporation benefit from this? Or maybe it would be better to just dump Chrysler’s last remaining American employees just in order to ‘hurt’ big business? I understand and share the anger people have for large corporations. But hurting Chrysler doesn’t help matters. And tell a Chrysler employee that you’re anti-Chrysler. I’m sure he’ll really feel like your behind him. Yup, you’ve got his back alright. But anyway, on to my real point…
      Clearly, a large proportion of people connected with ‘the movement of the 60’s’ either changed, or moderated their stances – or got sick of rigid idealists dictating that one’s support of specific causes meant they must strictly, absolutely adhere to ALL values and goals of ‘the movement’. Its because of such narrow-mindedness, and the imposition of complete moral authority that people (Dylan included) would say ‘fuck this’, or at least: “I can’t listen to this anymore’.
      Some felt very passionately about civil rights, but still thought it would be nice to make a good salary. Some were absolutely opposed to the atrocities of the war, but didn’t see anything wrong with working for an investment firm, and maybe even someday driving a nice car. Maybe one or two just needed a job at Chrysler, started hanging out with people from work, and adapted their views to some degree. And yes, maybe lots just loved music, and liked to get stoned and hang out with girls. You label and judge them ‘frauds’. Well, maybe they weren’t overly passionate, but they were still a visible (if latent) support for the causes you care so deeply for. No wonder they abandoned the cause and/or the culture when they realized that any deviation from the standards set by you and your fellow judges of human worth would lead to them being deemed a traitor to your neatly packaged bundle of causes. But I’m guessing no one really wanted to listen to lectures and judgments with regard to how they should live their ‘hollow’ lives
      For you to point your finger at anyone who merely dares to defend Dylan’s choice to appear in a dumb ad clearly demonstrates why so many people walked away from your movement. For you to convince yourself that we are deriving “…self-assurance in our hollow…conviction-less journey…” from a commercial shows what a spiteful, disdainful view you have of anyone who doesn’t fit your very limited paradigm of a full, meaningful life. I have absolutely no issue with posters who were disappointed with Dylan’s appearance, and I enjoy rational debate, but you ‘Aaron’ have clearly appropriated the right (need?) to judge anyone who doesn’t share your small minded view of the world. I thought the movement of the 60’s was one of inclusivity, but I guess that was just for appearances, because your statement makes it very apparent that only those who bought into (and sold) the ‘whole package’ were worthy of holding whatever title it is you think you deserve. Or maybe inclusivity and understanding were just something you were never particularly passionate about. Hey actually, by your own standards, wouldn’t that make you a fraud?

      • GM and Chrysler employee thousands of auto workers. That means their families are provided for. The American auto industry is unionized. If the auto industry were not unionized I would bet that Dylan would not be promoting Chrysler’s cars. You may not like “corporations” but they employ men and women and Dylan is promoting “Made in America.” Thats a good thing!!!!

      • Aaron says:

        I think you make a fair point. But, look at it from the perspective of someone who actually thought the movement was serious, and actually was willing to give one’s life to the creation of a new and fairer culture. The inclusiveness that you refer to I think was a fairly simple question of “are you in or are you out?” I wasn’t doing background checks on these individuals and making sure they fit my every criteria, but I did take their word for it that we were all on the same side.

        If time has absorbed those ideals, then there’s obviously nothing I can do about it. Practicality demanded as much of many. Whatever “battle” that may have been fought clearly was lost before it really began, and it’s hard to spite people for still trying to make a decent life for themselves in the aftermath.

        Still, though, I think that’s different than looking at those ideals, and then discarding them with a snarky “haha… you didn’t think we actually meant it, did you??” Because the truth is, they said they meant it, and yes, I believed them. If Bob Dylan wants to wink at the camera, laugh, and call himself a song-and-dance man that never actually stood for anything, then I don’t know how to interpret that in a way that allows me to still respect him. The same generation of people that I once thought actually understood what we were fighting for seem to now just think it was all a trivial game of cool music, cool dudes, and corporate nationalistic pride. That’s not what it was about to me.

        Honestly, how would you feel? How would you feel if you were really willing to give your life for something, standing alongside people who energetically expressed to you that they would do the same – only to find out a few decades later that they were now happily promoting the other side without any qualms or regrets? Only to find out they never really meant it anyway and didn’t give a crap one way or the other?

        Bob Dylan is just some guy, and I guess I don’t really care if he deserves my respect or not. But I’m disappointed in the people I once felt an allegiance with, if they cannot even seem to remember what our principles were supposed to be, or how much they all once said it mattered to them.

  9. Dan the Man says:

    Stop including REM as a band that eschews advertising. Am I the only person who remembers “I Am Superman” being used by IBM for their Lotus R5 tv commercials?

    • Dylan never advocated socialism, which was the core thesis of the SDS. Read the Port Huron statement. Dylan never trusted leaders, of any stripe, including those on the left. Not knowing him personally, I suspect Lincoln, Martin King, Malcolm X,Mandela, and Gandhi are a very small and exclusive coterie of political figures that Dylan admired.

      • Denise says:

        Yeah, just keep on building cars. Let’s march in lock-step right into oblivion.

        Dylan’s counterculture anthems were about rejecting ingrained ways of thinking and being that were damaging to culture and life.

        We don’t need any more goddamn cars. We need to be doing other things.

    • Brian Steinberg says:

      Dan the Man: You might recall that “Superman” is actually a 1968 song by a band called Clique and R.E.M. only covered it. The version used in the Lotus ad was not the REM version, I believe, but a cover version. The band does not own the licensing rights to the song

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t get the argument that selling out to corporate sponsors is the only way to remain financially viable for an old coot operating in digital times. Bob Dylan must be at least 70 years old which, for most people means retirement, as in, live off the pension you earned from decades of hard work. Great that he’s still making new music, but does he have to sell out to pay his bills?

  11. another robert says:

    Lighten up people. It saddens me so many of you get your ideology from a pop singer, and that you speak about Dylan the character as if that somehow equals the actual man and you know what motivates him. Sell out? please…isn’t a pop singer by definition one (remember, pop is short for popular)? He’s an artist, one I find compelling. Maybe less so when, as some of you would have it, he was ‘shilling’ for God in the late ‘70s; moreso when that expressive voice (note I didn’t say pretty or sweet), blends with evocative lyrics and highly-crafted music and melody. He wrote and sang ‘em, and I bought, ruminated on, and was otherwise engaged by his work – and that is more than enough, he doesn’t owe me anything else. My father isn’t a pot smoking war protester any more, doesn’t mean he’s a sell out or vapid, only that his focus shifted.
    Everyone changes…life would be exceedingly boring if this wasn’t so. Yet Dylan, or whatever name he goes by when the lights dim, isn’t allowed this most basic freedom? How cruel.

    • Ask the auto workers if he is selling out?

    • Paula Tyndale says:

      I’ve been an avid follower of Dylan’s work since Like A Rolling Stone and Gates of Eden came out together on one 45 record and simply blew us away with its depth and artistry. Am very familiar with the music and with the films and consider “Masked and Anonymous” an important one, even though the critics looked down on it. THIS ad, though, is just too much of a let-down. Talk about lack of artistry. Lack of self-awareness! They made you look like a clown, physically. Have some dignity in your aging……. it’s pathetic. Actually, if we had had YouTube when Bob was in the early stages of his career, we’d all have KNOWN all along that he was quite an asshole. Videos of him and John Lennon hanging out at parties & on a limo ride show him at his drugged-up obnoxious worst. It’s such a shame when creative genius is combined with moral weakness to this extent. USING what is sacred to advance your personal ego. Always watch out for the karma that comes along with that choice.

  12. Dylan’s been “completely absorbed” by advertising because he lent his voice and images to a very “Dylanesque” ad touting American pride and Chrysler, and a 48-year-old song to a yogurt commercial with a bear dismantling a general story while the song plays in the background?? Oh, brother.

    The man’s still making new music (his last album Tempest, from Oct. 2012, was a real nice gem), he’s still touring almost unceasingly, he’s expanded his artistic expression to painting and sculpture, he’s been a DJ and commentator on his “Theme Time Radio Hour,” … I don’t think he’s been completely absorbed by anything except being the original, expressive artist he’s always been seeking various outlets. (Even when he was completely absorbed as a born again Christian, 1979-1982, he made some of the best contemporary gospel songs I’ve heard.)

    It’s kinda funny in a way … in a mid-1960s news conference when he was at the height of his “counterculture” fame, he was asked something to the effect if he ever did make a commercial, what would it be. He said it’d probably be something like “women’s underwear,” and everybody laughed. Forty-some years later, here came Victoria’s Secret and Bob.

    Dylan, I think, always spoke truth through his seemingly off-the-cuff and even smart-ass remarks to the news media back then. Such as when he said he considered himself just a “song and dance” man. Again, everyone laughed, but deep down, I really think he meant it. He never took himself as seriously as others seemed to take him. Maybe that’s also why he survived and continues creating. That’s why I loved his “Theme Time” radio show, and anything else he does. It must be so extraordinary to be in his shoes, to basically do whatever you want because you’ve earned the right by being such a creative force for over a half century. Not all of it’s been great music, or film, or very “commercial.” But I’m taking his advice to hang on to whatever he tosses out, and let’s hope that the “roof stays on.”

  13. Al says:

    There sure sounds like a lot of people in here yelling “Judas!” He’s heard that before…

  14. dmacnlx says:

    Any ‘dylanophiles’ who are shocked or dismayed that Dylan did this ad aren’t really all that familiar with the artist. As far back as the mid-60’s, he was going out of his way to escape the trap of being labeled a ‘protest singer’. He has clearly stated that he wrote his songs in the moment, and while the emotions and motivations were genuine, they were also situational, and that his songs (protest songs, or otherwise) should be able to stand alone, without him having to be a spokesman for some movement. Its always surprising to see Dylan in an ad, because he only does one every few years – but it shouldn’t be shocking to anyone other than those who think the only contribution he made to our culture was ‘Tambourine Man’.

    • Fine. Lemme put it this way: listening to Dylan shill for Christ-ler is just as insulting, stultifying and worthless as, say, Jay Leno shilling for Christ-ler.

      Except Leno has one of those ’64 jet turbine cars, so he actually has a reason to be nice to Chrysler.

      Oh, but I forgot, so does Zimmerman…big corps like Chrysler provided him with large targets for his biting sarcasm and withering commentary about the abysmal state of UhmeriKKKan culture in the 60s…gave him something to write about. So I guess he has reason to like Chrysler as well…

    • AK says:

      You might be making a valid point. I do not have a thorough knowledge of Bob Dylan the person, I suppose. Most of what I think of him is based upon much of his early music, and the movement he was associated with.

      I think the point I was trying to make is that he has not just “selling out”, but is seemingly directly contradicting the messages he was once believed to be making. There is a difference between saying “don’t label me as a protest singer” and saying “I actually believe the opposite of the things I said in those protest songs”.

      Has he ever actually conveyed THAT message before? Because I guess I do find it somewhat surprising.

      • AK says:

        Hmm… yeah… I appreciate your insights on this, dmacnix. It’d be nice if the internet more often actually discussed the issues at hand.

        It seems you’re making the point that Bob Dylan probably never actually stood for many of the sentiments that people came to associate with him. Given the fact that he made this Chrysler commercial (to go along with the other things you’ve said about him), I guess I’d have to think you’re probably right.

        So, then, I guess therein lies the disenchantment. I’m much too young to be a hippie, and I’ve come to accept I’m no expert on how the world should be run… but still, I feel like there was something at least a little magical about the sentiments of that time period. It was not about American labor, or the positive socioeconomic impact of a surge in Chrysler stock… I thought it was about people saying they were tired of killing themselves for a business society that didn’t care about them… and about people that would no longer kill each other to keep that machine going. There was a sentiment of unified compassion and understanding in there somewhere that I’d like to think a lot of people can still relate to.

        Perhaps Bob Dylan did not want to become a flag-bearer for all of this… but he did. And if he found discomfort with that particular spotlight, then I guess that’s fine. But for him to then willfully look back on the cultural legacy he’d been given, and then seemingly spit on it. Well… it just seems like that is kind of a sad moment for the whole movement, and a very low point in the long legacy of Bob Dylan’s public life.

        Maybe it was wrong for protesters to ever think of him as a hero, but this seems like the action of an anti-hero. He’s looking down on the protesters now from the top floor of Chrysler Corp., and trying to convince the consuming public of Chrysler’s inherent goodness because of their national association. It’s garbage. If that’s really what Bob Dylan has actually always stood for, then it seems that many people’s respect for him was probably misplaced… does it not? That seems somewhat significant…. and I guess kind of sad. I dunno. Paul Simon is still cool, right?

      • dmacnlx says:

        I doubt he ever said, ‘I actually believe the opposite of the things I said in those protest songs”; but respectfully, there are a lot of assumptions with regard to what he supposedly said in his songs. Dylan became the face of a social movement. He was uncomfortable with it, and he was genuine enough to clearly state that he didn’t feel strongly enough to be that flagbearer. That doesn’t mean he didn’t care, or that he believed the opposite of his lyrics – but it does indicate that he was honest enough to know that he didn’t want to be locked in to a rigid statement of values. This, along with the need to move forward musically/artistically were reasons for turning to electric music – he wanted to distance himself from the imposition of a set of values which he empathized with – but didn’t want to be enslaved to. As far as the content of his lyrics, he wrote many great songs with regard to civil rights, but I don’t recall many that mentioned the evils of large companies and capitalism. For the most part, that was projected upon him by those who wanted him to be the symbol for their cause. I don’t disagree with those here who feel that big business, and Chrysler in particular, has done a lot of harm to society, but if they are at least continuing to manufacture/assemble even some vehicles in the US, then can we fault Bob Dylan for collecting a paycheque and possibly hoping that him endorsing Chrysler might help keep even a few more jobs in North America? One thing for sure – boycotting Chrysler isn’t going to create more jobs, but maybe making an ad that could in some small way serve to instil some pride (and revenue) into a dying industry could help not just the corporation, but also the people who need those manufacturing jobs.

  15. radiodurans says:

    While I could legitamately see the view for Dylan’s Victoria Secret and Pepsi commercials as “sell-out” on some level, I think the Chrysler commercial is a coming to the defense of the American blue-collared working man and woman. Chrysler is an iconic yet endangered American symbol. Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Jim Morrison, John Lennon . . . they all had relationships with Chrysler vehicles. As far as those other “less admirable” commercials . . . Dylan probably perceives them as another medium to get his music out there and keep his songs in public consciousness. It should be remembered they are his songs, and he should be free to do what he wants with them, whether we agree or not. I do wish he would avoid doing silly things like re-releasing his songs to extend copyright and allow his songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind” to go into the public domain as his hero Woody Guthrie did with his songs. Woody’s copyright disclaimer is the most noble statement about the use of his music: “Anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.”

    • AK says:

      It’s possible I’ve somehow always completely misunderstood what Bob Dylan stood for, but I disagree that Chrysler embodies any of his previous principles. There is a very solid line that is drawn between the perceived oppressed (alienated, underpaid working people), and the perceived oppressors (like Chrysler, for example). Unless Chrysler turned into a fair-minded commune recently, then they are a gigantic corporation that has profited off of the deficits of others for decades. Standing up for Chrysler Corp. is very much not the same as standing up for its blue-collared employees.

      The left-wing of the sixties was at least partly about realizing that the battle lines that divided people were NOT the borders of our countries, but the lines drawn between the exploited and the exploiters. The message was that a struggling blue-collar worker of America shared an allegiance not with his employers, but instead with the struggling workers all around the world that shared their plight.

      Everything about what Bob Dylan says in this commercial is the opposite of the movement he has been associated with. He is treating giant capitalism as heroic, and subtly treating the people from other countries as enemies. Honestly, I find it really gross. People who compare this to plugging in a guitar at a folk festival are completely not getting it.

  16. Mary S says:

    Kathy Parrent, are you also going to ask Bruno Mars, Bruce Willis and all the other stars who were associated with the game give their money to charity? Are you a fool???
    By what right do you think you can demand that Dylan not receive compensation for this ad??
    I will not even begin to speculate about what kind of looney-tune you might be.
    Of all the holier-than-thou attitudes and suggestions I have seen or heard, yours takes the cake!
    If you’re in the mood to make demands, tell Congress to reinstate the Unemployment Insurance benefits for those who lost their jobs and can no longer afford to support their families. Or to reinstate all the SNAP benefits they have cut from Veterans, the elderly and the young.
    But leave Bob Dylan alone!!! I loved the ad and was happy to see him and hear his voice……….

  17. Denise says:

    The commercials stank, the game stank, and Bob Dylan stinks. And so does car culture and big oil. The times, they aren’t a-changin’.

  18. jay v says:

    These “sell out” comments make me smile (knowingly), Dylan had been called a sell out at every release and stage of his career, the examples are too numerous to mention (you know what they are), see a pattern here, Bob Dylan does the unexpected, and this surprises/dismays you … please, wake up.

  19. sierrabloom says:

    Bob Dylan will always be one of the greatest musicians and songwriters ever. Too bad the Fiat’s a deathtrap.

  20. I love Bob Dylan’s music, and I’ll never apologize for that. But I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand this. Yeah, he’s been unpredictable he’s been in the past. I get that. But now he’s not only supporting the kinds of people he’s been criticizing from the start, he’s saying we should do so as well because…”American Pride?” That kind of propaganda would have been prime fodder for 60’s Dylan to rail against. I get he wants money, everyone does, but one would think he’d be more choosy about where he places his support. Also, as a side note, the Who comparison is not valid. Dylan did more than give his music to this company; he gave his voice, his face, his influence. Allowing a song to be used in marketing in no way implies special support for the company. Appearing IN the commercial and telling us Chrysler embodies “American Pride” is something altogether different. I love you, Mr. Dylan, but come on. Don’t leave us all in the dust.

  21. Connie Brewer says:

    I LOVED Bob Dylan’s commercial. Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan, & he always will be. He’s the greatest & can do anything he wants to!

  22. Debbie Moore says:

    Is there anything more Japanese than Japan? Is there anything more Russian than Russia? Typical of the insightful(sic) lyrics of Dylan

  23. Robert W.Cox says:

    well, you can criticize Dylan for a lot of things but criticizing him now for selling out, means you never paid any attention to him in the beginning. His goal in life was to be either bigger than or as big as Elvis.Ok that was the first clue that he was on a pathway to success. Second, he was very much aware of selling his records in a very competitive Pop culture market that did not want folk or folk blues singers preaching to them. If you rad Tarantchula, (misspelled) back in 1972, you would know that Dylan was focused on succeeding as a pop recording star. Pop stars advertise for mega corps for mega bucks, that is what they all do. In their world that is the cool hip thing to do. And they all do it. Myley Cyrus is currently posing nude in W magazine. Justin Beiber is drinking acting stupid and getting threwn in jail, why? for publicity. Because you and I and especially you, because you are a media person, want something to entertain us as we procastinate our lives away never going for it to end up like say Michael Jackson or Bob Dylan. But if you were him, well do you know what a drag it is to see you?

  24. Doug Lais says:

    Dylan is doing what he’s always done, breaking out of any mold his fans or his unfans try to put him in. If you don’t like it, call him whatever you will, but you’re just one of the voices he leaves in the dust. You’re helping to keep the legend alive.

  25. Bob’s a song and dance man, so take it easy greasy.

  26. Doug says:

    Dylan does whatever Dylan wants to do. Anyone who doesn’t understand that hasn’t been paying attention. The reason he holds the place he does in the American psych is because he has never, ever let anyone else define who he is or who they think he should be. Get over it.

    • Adrian says:

      I find your comment interesting. You are simultaneously summarizing “the American psyche” at the same time that you are criticizing Americans for not conforming to your summation. If you are such an expert on the place Bob Dylan holds in everyone’s mind (including, presumably, my own), then why is everyone not already “over it” in the manner that both you and your logic seem to demand? Is it that I had simply forgotten why I might have respected Bob Dylan, and therefore needed you to remind me?

      That doesn’t seem right.

      It seems that if you are holding the “American psyche” as an important barometer of meaning, then perhaps stop telling America what it believes and actually pay attention to the feelings some people are expressing.

  27. Adrian says:

    Everybody is completely missing the point. He didn’t sell out here because he was a shill for a company (which he has done before), he sold out here because the entire piece is about supporting and celebrating big corporate America. That is NOT “vintage Bob”, it is absolutely perpendicular to the stances upon which he has built his legacy. Selling lingerie for money is completely different than telling us that Chrysler (and the jingoism it apparently embodies) stands for something we should support.

  28. Dylan has earned his place in this present world of shallow endeavors and crass commercialization of our society. He is more “American” than Chrysler/Fiat, Ford, and GM. A true American Icon from the ’60’s whose music and lyrics still resonates with all of us who lived during these times. Maybe he did it for the money, but I would bet he did it to express his true feelings for the common American worker. Listen to his lyrics, his songs of protest during the Vietnam War. I don’t care if he makes a boatload of money making a commercial. He still cares about us and our country.

  29. Art Foxall says:

    They tried to beat him down for going electric… “It’s just music” he said… And he continued to play his music his way… He was and still is in a business, he like everyone else, including Mr. Steinberg, have to pay the rent, put food on the table and cover his body with clothes… Despite what most people would like to think, more people than not, will do what they have to do to cover their bills… And although Mr. Steinberg and other people like to think they are above it, we are all whores for the almighty buck… So get off you high hourse and admit, if Variety didn’t hire you to write for them you would be out there whoring your work for the almighty dollar, just like the rest of the human race… Get over yourself… If I offered you a couple million dollars, how fast would you sign on the line???

  30. Robert says:

    He took the money,simple as that…a sell out is a sell out

    • another robert says:

      the guy is a millionaire many times over and he is after all a ‘pop’ musician (which, by definition means popular appeal justified by the ability to sell records). No sanctimony from me, kind of like him being more visible as his career winds down. If this makes the younger generation try to learn who the hell he is and what he has meant, fine by me.

  31. Let the chips and thrips fall where they may. The bugs of fat will steal all voices in the end and the steel manufacturing of Bobby songs will only take what’s given, as recompense for democratic failure and industrial abuse. The little bitty and ditty margins of gain signal and portend a perpetual and inevitable movement towards ends that none seem to be able to comprehend, but all can eviscerate and eat. Eat up people, for tomorrow we die.

  32. “Having earned his stripes resisting ‘the man,’ he has now become a cultural icon representing unqualified authenticity,”…

    And having “starred” in a Chrysler ad, he pissed all that authenticity away in 60 seconds…see how easy that was, Bob?

  33. Ryan Kelly says:

    Like it or not, advertising agencies are becoming the new labels. And this system gives artists more control. — “How Selling Out Saved Indie Rock” —

  34. Joe Milanese says:

    People disapprove of Dylan? He must be crestfallen!

  35. Nancy says:

    I believe Jimmy understands that our economy is groaning along with minute increments of growth and the theme, “buy American,” is a good one. He, himself is an American icon, and having his voice encouraging the Nation to think about the our economy before making a purchase of a car, is as American as him singing, “The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.” I hope for our economy’s sake, his message is not, “blowing in the wind…” The answer simply stated is buy American!

  36. boschboy says:

    Bob Dylan doesn’t do what Bob Dylan does for Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan does what Bob Dylan does because Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan!”

    • Sarah says:

      Yep… and no one ushered a sound when he released his xmas album a few years ago and gave all the proceeds to Feeding America. What we have here is envy… that such a man can do exactly whatever he wants.

  37. jim fouratt says:

    It not like he needs the money..maybe he just needs a reality check!

  38. What puzzled me was that Fiat/Chrysler didn’t hire a music figure from Detroit. If you want to push Detroit-built cars, why use a guy from Minneapolis?

  39. steven waibel says:

    Glad I seen it that was the most entertaining & biggest thing that was on,including the Super Bowl!!!

  40. Chris says:

    Bob sure has softened his stance on which products, or whose products, should be made here vs. overseas…listen to “Union Sundown” on the Infidels album and hear the difference.

  41. Sean Griffin says:

    The bizarre thing was that Dylan was hawking Chrysler cars using a Buy American theme. Chrysler is owned by Fiat, which is an Italian corporation. Its vehicles are assembled in Mexico, Canada and the United States from parts assembled from Latin America, Asia and the United States. Even Hondas have more US content.

    • Bingo! Thanks Sean! What irks me is that the tangled web is mostly intentional. It’s a big”shell” game where only those few that can keep their eye on the bean, as it gets shuffled between the shells in masterful ways that are both complex and clandestine, can even begin to see through the clever sales pitch or even be cognizant of what exactly is being sold. The worst part is that the sale gets made and we will only find out what the profits were actually used for when it’s too late to do anything about it. People like Bob should be more careful what they lend their image to and are seemingly in support of. Unless of course they themselves are as greedy and selfish as the ones they help to promote.Mr. Zimmerman once inspired me musically but now he has gotten my blood boiling once again only this time it’s political. Let’s fix the country before we worry about fixing it’s promotional campaign.

  42. They all end up selling out. Yeah, he wrote some great lines/songs but evidently the meaning of those songs/lines have a shelf life. Really bummed out.

  43. MCJones says:

    Fact is that most foreign cars are manufactured in the U.S. while most domestic cars are manufactured in Mexico. You want America to build your car- buy a Japanese car. If you want your money to stay in the U.S. buy used. I find it disingenuous to say he is selling America when in fact he is telling us to not buy American beer, or American watches… We are in a global economy, to say “buy american” is like saying, buy California, and with that logic, buy San Francisco, and then buy Inner Sunset- if we had that mentality no one would own a car, a phone, or a beer. Globalization makes everyone more well off.

  44. Mike says:

    This whole thing has me confounded…. Did he do it for the money? Did he understand the context of the ad? What was the conversation behind the scenes leading up to this commercial?

    I am left to believe that the greatest American songwriter made a decision to partner with a corporation to sell a product. Maybe he truly believes in Chrysler products? Does he own one? Neil Young has been trying to launch a car business for the past decade.

    We need to know the backstory. Dylan needs to discuss why he ventured down this road. The guy is 72 years old and probably can’t/doesn’t want to travel the world in a bus any longer to keep the spigot flowing.

  45. Jelena Pavlovic says:

    So what? I see this as an add for the auto industry that may bring new jobs ’cause many people lost theirs. I personally believe that money is the core of all evil, but have to work and support myself.

  46. Dylan isn’t selling cars, he’s selling America. Didn’t you listen to the words? Didn’t you watch the imagery? You almost forgot the thing was a commercial for Fiat/Chrysler cars…and began to think of it as promoting US…I hate Chrysler cars, most American cars in fact, and even I sat there and said…”America..Fuck Yeah!”

    That ad told a story…a story Dylan has been promoting for decades…the honor, worth and pride of the common man and the heart of this country; Sorry the close minded missed it….

    • gleapman says:

      How is telling people to ‘let Germany brew your beer’ honoring ‘the common man and the heart of this country’? This is just crass commercialism. Oh, sorry. I guess you meant crass commercialism is the heart of this country. I can’t argue with that. The heart attack is coming. This time around Dylan will be part of the cause, not part of the solution.

  47. Geri says:

    Omg. Let’s all calm down. How many of you look at life the same way you did fifty years ago. Bobs message is so much more reassuring than what’s being shoveled at us from our government folk. Read it the way you need to. How you see it is who you are. This goes for everything in life. By the way, i am 68…been there, done that and watched the man “grow”. Commercial was very inspiring. So lighten up….

  48. steve cranshaw says:

    Everybody has an opinion. Mine is simply; Dylan is/was ‘different’. Depressed that he’s selling cars.

  49. Nancy Allen says:

    Jeff Kframer? Uh, that would be Jeff Rosen. Just sayin’…

More TV News from Variety