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An Open Letter to Bob Dylan

February 4, 2014
Please allow me a break from my posts on millennials and mutuality to share this letter to one of my heroes. Dear Bob: Saw you during the Super Bowl on Sunday. Shilling for Chrysler. [youtube=http://youtu.be/KlSn8Isv-3M] Had I had any inkling you would one day serve as a corporate spokesperson – a sure sign that the apocalypse is upon us – I never would have bought all that life insurance. We’ve had our ups and downs over the years. I had heard your name mentioned in my home growing up in the 60s – mostly attached to adjectives like “radical” or “revolutionary.” But it wasn’t until a friend gave me a battered copy of “The Freewheeling Bob Dylan” (released in 1963) that I realized how powerful music can be. From the “protest songs” ("Blowin’ in the Wind", "Talking World War III Blues") to the love songs ("Girl from the North Country") to the best break-up song in history ("Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright"), that album mesmerized me. I carry a CD version in my car just in case I need a fix. I always appreciated your willingness to explore ways to reinvent yourself and your music. I must have heard two dozen versions of “Maggie’s Farm” over the decades – and while I didn’t love all of them, I respected your right to tinker with the tune. I’ve followed you through the good times – the 1974 “Before the Flood” tour backed up by The Band (“But even the President of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked!”), and the bad – your conversion to Christianity and the subsequent album and tour (my college newspaper column that reviewed one of the shows on this tour was titled “It Ain’t You, Babe”). But the singular genius of the “Blood on the Tracks” made up for any experiments gone awry. Until Sunday. Hey, Bob, you might want to re-read the lyrics to “Masters of War.” Not to point any fingers at Chrysler, but I’m pretty sure the company is part of the military industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about and you so eloquently condemned. Look, I get it. Poets and minstrels don’t have 401(k) plans or defined benefit pensions. But really, serving as the front man for Chrysler? Now the only thing standing between us and the end of the world is Neil Young appearing in a Bud Light ad during next year’s Super Bowl.