Victoria’s Secret Ad

Way back in January, the whole world (well, people on Twitter) got really upset that Bob Dylan appeared in a Chrysler ad during the Super Bowl. He’d sold his soul! A betrayal! Won’t somebody please think of the children?! How could he do this to us? It was all very alarming. And, of course, it all happened once before.
In 2004 Dylan appeared in an ad for Victoria’s Secret, who were selling a new type of underwear. The ad only ran for three weeks, but it was one of the most talked about ads of the year. It generated op-ed pieces in USA Today, in Entertainment Weekly, and, horribly, in Slate (click through for their embarrassing headline – I won’t even dignify it by putting it here). If there had been a Twitter, I’m sure that it would have exploded.
I’m not really sure what to say about this ad. I’ve included the longer version here (there is also a 30 second edit). I like this video because someone has tagged a famous section of his San Francisco press conference (December 1965) to it in a charming fashion. Oh the irony!
So, yeah, it’s an ad for underwear. It features a model in angel wings and underwear. Dylan’s role is to sort of leer at her. They play “Love Sick”. There’s not really any way to make that come across as not creepy. It is sort of creepy. That’s advertising pretty much in a nutshell. Creepy.
A lot of the discussion at the time – and probably still today – focuses on motive. Why would Dylan do this? For the money? Does he really need the money that badly? He tours all the time – he must be making money. For the free trip to Venice? I’m sure Dylan can afford a trip to Venice (his website is acting up – I can’t look up how often he has played there). To ogle a semi-clad model? I’m sure he’s had more than his fair share of those opportunities. To mess with his fans? That would be my own guess, but the fact of the matter is that I have no idea why Dylan does almost anything that he does. This is no more or less odd to me than his appearance on Dharma and Greg, or his beard at Newport. Dylan’s brain doesn’t seem to work in a way that I understand.
So, this is his first ad for a product, and it is for lingerie. It’s a weird piece of the puzzle that is his life.

Stumped by Springsteen

I fell behind on 2003 Dylan for the most frustrating reason – I finally discovered something that I wanted to write about that I couldn’t find a copy of!
Dylan’s touring in 2003 included several shows where he opened for The Grateful Dead and a couple where he opened for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. He played a bit with each, but that’s material that I’ve already covered in weeks past. What was new this year was Dylan joining Bruce Springsteen on stage at one of his shows. Specifically, the final show of Springsteen’s The Rising tour, at Shea Stadium in New York on October 4, 2003. Springsteen and Dylan sang “Highway 61”.
Given the fact that each man has an extensive bootlegging culture around him, and given the fact that the show was in New York, you’d figure that the audio and video would be all over the place. Indeed, there is an incredibly poor quality video of the prior evening’s show on YouTube. So if you can get that whole thing, it should be easy to get this one song. Right? Right?
Yeah, not so fast. Everywhere I’ve turned all week – and I spent about an hour on this yesterday, and about the same again today – I get this:
Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 6.42.30 PM
l can find accounts written by people who were there, but for the life of me I can’t find the video.
That’s okay – I’ve had to write about things where I didn’t have the video previously, but this case is unusual in that I also can’t find the audio. There are Springsteen bootlegs out there (here’s a video of the concert, for instance), but I’m not interested in paying that to hear one song. I tried dipping into the online world of Springsteen bootleggers, but I had no luck in that regard, finding only the commercial bootleg dealers.
It might seem logical that this song would be widely anthologized across Dylan and Springsteen fandoms, but my sense right now is that it isn’t at all. It seems that there was a problem with Dylan’s mic on the first verse that negatively impacted the song, and that might account for the lack of interest in sharing it – not many anthologizers are going to bother to include a partial recording or a poor performance, even if it does have a touch of history about it.
So, this has been one of my few straight failures. Generally I’ve been able to come by almost everything that I’ve wanted (I couldn’t find some of Dylan’s earliest ads), but this time I’ve come up blank. If you’re a Springsteen enthusiast with a deep bootleg collection, let me know. I’ve become fixated on this one.