“Bob is not authentic at all. He’s a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception.”
- - Joni Mitchell
|Bob...before he became 'Dylan', man|
The irony was apparent to those who chose to see the rickety, stove-piped legs that supported the façade. Here was a middle-class mid-western Baby Boomer folky transmuting Woody Guthrie Depression-era socialism into 1960s societal angst. Anti-government. Anti-corporation. Anti-status quo.
However, few entertainers ever had such an intuitive gasp of personal branding as Bob Dylan. In this pursuit, he is a genius. The untamed hair, the defiantly off-key singing, the poison pen lyrics, the confrontational attitude, the up-all-night pallor – Dylan created a powerful, pliable persona that was as original as Old Glory itself, and just as American.
He made it ok for teenagers to be thoughtful, intellectual, and skeptical. Goodbye Frankie and Annette, hello Mr. Jones and our Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.
When he tried to shift his brand - he lost exposure. Finally, he stopped trying. If he couldn’t grow outward, then inward it would be. The angry teen became a millionaire hobo, the squatter’s camp fire now a cluster of stage lights, the rail car a stretch limo with women he would immortalize and forget.
He did a lingerie commercial as it would strengthen, with back-handed condescension, his personal brand. He was right.
We never knew Bob because Bob didn't exist. The most talented poseur of them all – laconic, jaded, detached, trailing in the wake of his own myth with no direction home, like a rolling stone.
|The Bard of Branding|
In the end a beautiful trickster, the Tambourine Man, one who sang the spell as a generation danced around him thrice and drank the milk of paradise.