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Dylan & Victoria’s Secret

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While watching some of those delightful late night tv shows (Jay Leno and Conan O’Brian) I had an opportunity to watch a delightful commercial. I was just sitting, lounging on the futon in our basement. A rhythm guitar started the steady beat and a rough voice rasped over-top. The pictures on the screen was of a scantly clad woman with wings.

I said to myself, “That sounds like Bob Dylan. Hot Damn!”

I dug into my limited Dylan collection to see if I could identify the song. No mistake. The same song on the commercial is the first track from “Time Out of Mind” titled Lovesick.

Entertianment Weekly has a writer who has some interesting commentary/opinion on this here at their website.

Their basic point is, Dylan to sell underwear? “Is nothing sacred?”

I tend to agree with them to a point. While it is odd and not something I would choose for a Dylan song, the commercial and the song fit together well.

But… but… still! Dylan and… porn! (For that is all Victoria’s Secret commercials are.) Arrrg!


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  • beka

    ok i cannot thank you enough for posting this. i too was watching my favorite Conan O’brien and i saw that commercial and imediatley fell in love with the song. Of course it sounded so mych like bob dylan but he is a little past my time and i’ve not heard of most of his tracks. Anyway i know that a lot of artists are selling out ‘n shuch these days but i feel like the ad was done in a very classy sexy way. Plus i know have a new favorite song by bob dylan because of it.

  • Breonna

    I was watching some tv show when I heard a familiar voice and knew that it was the one, and only, Bobby Dylan. I knew that I hadn’t heard that song before (I only own Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks, The Rolling Thunder Revue Tour, and Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits) and so decided to view the commercial several more times before drawing a final conclusion. I was shocked in a very nonchalant way (does that make sense to anyone else?) that Dylan, of all people, would sell out. But maybe I expect too much from him – unfairly, granted that I am 15 and only just became obsessed with him 3 months ago. However, underwear is the last thing I would envision him promoting.

  • tracy

    SELL OUT? you are talking about BOB DYLAN for the love of god!Even if he used his music to promote dorritos from now on he could NEVER be a sell out, and that commercial is HOT and the song fits perfect, which just goes to prove even more- HE IS STILL THE MAN!

  • M L Squier

    Boo Bob! I never thought you’d do it. Except in a nightmare I once had. (But hasn’t Mr. Dylan already let one of his songs go into a commercial?) Everything’s been sold American [said Kinky Friedman], right Bob?

  • I had no problem with Dylan going electric, but now I know how the old-school acoustic-only folkies must have felt on the day he did.

    Dylan certainly has the right to use his music however he sees fit, but UGH.

    Boo Bob, indeed. Time for Neil Young’s “This Note’s for You.”

  • ASD

    I hate those cheeze commercials that are ruining excellent songs just to promote, but in these case, I have to applaud whoever got Bob Dylan to take the offer (I believe it was not an easy task), and matched that peace of the song with these commercial. It is very sexy… and I’m latino, I know sexy… 🙂

  • Sure it’s sexy and sure it works — that’s why they wanted Dylan, but it’s still a complete and total sell-out. Before you jump on the bandwagon in Dylan’s support, I advise you to settle back, gather your thoughts, read this sobering and impassioned article by John Densmore of The Doors and this beautiful response by Tom Waits.

    Waits words should be engraved in stone: Songs carry emotional information and some transport us back to a poignant time, place or event in our lives. It’s no wonder a corporation would want to hitch a ride on the spell these songs cast and encourage you to buy soft drinks, underwear or automobiles while you’re in the trance. Artists who take money for ads poison and pervert their songs. It reduces them to the level of a jingle, a word that describes the sound of change in your pocket, which is what your songs become. Remember, when you sell your songs for commercials, you are selling your audience as well.

  • Meg

    Geez. Any fan of Dylan knows that he himself has said he sold out– before he got started. He only did folk because it was popular and got him into the public eye. He wanted to plug in from the beginning, so the people whining about his departure from acoustic obviously didn’t pay any attention to his real ambition. It’d be nice if people could get the guy’s story straight.

  • Eric Olsen

    I don’t have a problem with the song being used – nothing is sacred musically anymore and what’s one more venue for a song and some extra cash for the artist and songwriter?

    But why on earth would he himself appear? THAT was the startling aspect. He looks like a Golden Ager gigolo.

  • The Theory

    good lord, why are we digging up these embarrasing old posts? let them rot…

  • Eric Olsen

    Because they started showing the ad again and I had never seen it before – I didn’t even notice the year of the post.

  • c’mon theory, you can take it!

  • Brantley Brock

    Behind it all, this is a very funny joke, and those who would criticize Dylan for what he’s done should lighten up. At a December 3, 1965 press conference in San Francisco, Dylan was asked: “If you were going to sell out to a commercial interest, which one would you choose?” After a brief pause, the 24-year-old Dylan replied, “Ladies garments.” It was funny then, and it’s even funnier now, nearly 40 years later, in light of the Victoria’s Secret commercial. Dylan is an immortal artist of Shakespearean stature who has always walked to his own drummer, and anyone who expects him to nurse a guilty conscience over something so inconsequential and amusing will be disappointed.

  • Really, people, can the pinko stuff. Dylan is not in any significant sense even vaguely “selling out.” He’s still Dylan, and he’s going to be Dylan. He’s not trimming his art in any way to do this.

    Nor is he pimping one of his better songs. He’s maybe getting some exposure for a not too bad track from a recent album, not putting “Blowin’ in the Wind” out for air freshener.

    Dylan’s personal appearance in the ad was GREAT. His old (but incredibly cool) appearance and raspy sound are the grain of sand around which is formed a beautiful little pearl of a commercial.

    I know I’d much rather see this than one more shot of that damned Geico lizard.

  • the above Tom Waits quote just about sums it up.

    i hate it when songs are sold to advertisers.

    but then again, i am a pinko.

    that said, there is something perfectly fitting about seeing dylan’s surreal mug in the middle of those models.

  • Winston Freeman

    Congratulations on being a Pinko, Mark. But the above Tom Waits quote sums nothing up. It is great-sounding rhetoric tailor-made for people who don’t think. Bob Dylan is 10 times the artist Tom Waits is. I don’t feel sold! I only feel pleased that Dylan is getting the exposure he deserves for his newer material. What sums it up is that post by Brantley Brock. Dylan made a joke; it is funny; so the proper response is laughter.

  • It is great-sounding rhetoric tailor-made for people who don’t think.


    Waits made the quote in the context of winning a lawsuit against frito-lay, who tried to swipe Waits voice by making soundalike music to be used in an ad. Waits won.

    sorry if i attach something other than dollars to music. if you can’t take it, too fuckin’ bad.


  • Shark

    Shark’s (Minority) Opinion:

    Dylan is the most over-rated hack whore in the history of Western music. He stole his sctick from a number of people, some well known, some not.

    Does he need the money?


    So a friggin’ underwear commercial just confirms the obvious: he’s more interested in chasing the almighty buck than artistic integrity.

    PS: Is he still a born-again Christian?

    Feh. Whatta dick.

  • Winston Freeman

    Nothing of what Waits says in the above quote applies directly to his case, as you describe it. The poster evidently took it out of context because he believed it applied to the situation with Dylan and Victoria’s Secret. I just don’t think that Waits’ quote applies in practice. It’s a lofty speech, though.

  • McBrady

    Let me just say I was initially shocked at seeing Dylan in an advertisement. However, after reading your insightful comments I have decided its not so bad. Dylan will always be Dylan and do things his way. I always laughed at the folk purists who huffed at the change to electric. This move is similar because he’s pissing off a lot of his fans. At least he’s surrounded by beautiful women. Sorry I can’t say the same for James Taylor with his pathetic MCI commercial.

  • Donna

    Shark wouldn’t know artistic integrity if it harpooned him in the tail.

    And by his definition of “stole,” Dylan really is right up there with Shakespeare.

  • Shark

    Donna, you can argue with my taste, (that’s why it’s called ‘taste’) but ya gotta admit:

    when an artist sells their ‘voice’ to the highest bidder, EVERYTHING HE SAYS IN THE FUTURE IS SUSPECT.

    No matter how you slice it, Dylan is a WHORE.

    (I don’t make the rules; just point ’em out.)

  • none of what Waits says applies to his case?

    he was defending the idea that his own music not be used in an advertising context.

    how the heck does that not apply?

  • and i don’t agree with shark about dylan.

    don’t think he’s overrated, not at all.

  • Donna

    Shark, if you believe that Dylan sold his voice to the highest bidder, then you’re an idiot.

    If you believe that it matters whether what Dylan says is suspect or not, then you’re an idiot.

    You want me to admit to the fact that you’re an idiot?

  • Shark

    Hey, Donna, unclinch for a moment —

    FACT: Dylan sold his voice to the highest bidder.

    Apology accepted.

    Donna: If you believe that it matters whether what Dylan says is suspect, you’re an idiot.”

    Um, Donna, I don’t know how old you are, BUT IT USED TO MATTER A LOT.

  • Donna


    Put another way, what Dylan says has always been suspect, and it’s best that way. It has no bearing on the quality of his art, or his artistic integrity.

    And could you please let me know who else was bidding for Dylan’s voice, and the amounts of their bids, so that I can get my facts straight.

  • Winston Freeman

    You were right the first time, Donna. The fact is Dylan did not “sell” his voice to anyone. He is still firmly in possession of it, and it still sounds great.

  • Donna

    Thank you. That was my point.

  • Eric Olsen

    Dylan has always positively reveled in pissing people off – he’s done it again.

  • Mr. Jones

    Yeah, you can quote Tom Waits, you can say Dylan has not lost any control over his music, he has not sold his voice to corperate America, he is trying (successfully) to piss us off…etc.

    One thing is sure, when he sings:

    “There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief,
    “There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.
    Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
    None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.”

    It does not carry the weight it once used to.

    Say Good-by to “Dylan”

  • Call it a sad farewell…

  • “A sad farewell?” Puh-lease. This is nothing but cheap anti-commercialism from all y’all objecting to this silly little ad.

    Dylan almost certainly did NOT sell to the highest bidder. Victoria’s Secret does good business apparently, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that there are a lot of companies that would LOVE to pay FAR more than an underwear manufacturer possibly could. If Dylan was selling out to the highest bidder, he’d be pimping for GE or Ford.

    Shark, you’re thing about Dylan being overrated is silly. Now, you might argue that he got his schtick from other places -notably Ramblin’ Jack Elliot- but that’s not the point. Look at the SONGS he’s written, and Dylan will dwarf Ramblin’ Jack, Woody Frickin’ Guthrie, and a half dozen other guys combined.

    Mr Jones- you know that something’s happening, but you obviously don’t know what it is. Why would “All Along the Watchtower” not carry the weight it once did?

    Y’all got some cheap philosophical schtick up your collective butts here. It’s an ad for underwear. Feel free to reach for the smelling salts if you must.

    This can’t be the biggest offer he could get. Obviously this particular unlikely sounding idea caught his attention in some way, and sounded like a good idea. It can’t have been whatever few measly bucks they’re paying him.

    Rand knows that I would never claim to understand the inner workings of Dylan’s mind, but the most obvious likely point of this from Dylan’s perspective would be just exactly to tweak this pinko mentality you’re collectively displaying here.

    Good for Bob.

  • McBrady

    “Call it a sad farewell” ? Give me a break. The joke is on you, and all of us for that matter. In 1965 he said in an interview that if he ever did a commercial it would be for undergarments.

  • Mr. Jones

    I’m not trying to make a big deal out of this. It is, as you said, a silly little ad. That being said, when I was a teenager in 1964, a few spokespersons for my generation stood out, Dylan being one of them. We have all “sold-out” in one form or another. Back then, if you told me I’d be working for the government, I’d say you were crazy (I do now work for the government). It is just a little shocking to see a guy with the credentials of Dylan doing something like an undies comercial. I do not know how old you are, but when you place someone on a high pedistal, the fall to reality is a hard one. Life will go on with or without Dylan’s ad, but let me ask you this, if you are telling your children about a hero you looked up to when you were young and suddenly he/she appears on TV peddling adult diapers, how would you feel?

  • Dylan was one of MY teenage heroes as well, but I simply don’t see this as representing any kind of “fall.” I reject the basic premise that doing any commercial automatically constitutes “selling out” or any other kind of offense.

    Now, some uses I find better, some worse. I just HATED the use of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” in the raisin commercials. It was a bad use of a major classic song.

    That’s basically an aesthetic judgment that I’d make on a case-by-case basis. Some commercial uses cheapen a song, some actually enhance it.

    This would be such a case. I know I heard the Dylan album, but it didn’t make any impression on me. This commercial has actually served to bring the song into focus for me where it went right by me before. That’s actually the ad positively SERVING the song in this instance.

  • Brantley Brock

    Good points, Al. If Dylan were to start dealing out his songs to multiple commercial interests, then he would be selling out. To argue that doing any commercial constitutes selling out is a short-cut to thinking. As I noted in an above post (comment 13), I believe Dylan chose to do this particular commercial as a joke that dates back to a tongue-in-cheek comment he made in 1965 — a comment of which some brilliant marketer at Victoria’s Secret probably reminded him. It’s just a joke (and a tasteful one), and it is quite inconsequential to Dylan’s integrity as an artist.

  • Shark

    Big Al, I only said it to be provocative! I thought you’d be proud!


    Here’s my point:

    Unless Dylan needed the money, there’s no reason to associate your ‘poetry’ with hawking a product. Squeal all you want, Dylan lovers, but his poetry is now a component of American Marketing. It turns his words and music into a marketing tool that says HE GETS PAID TO ‘SPEAK’.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, Bob Dylan, for Depends Undies:

    “Yup, I never pee in my pants what I don’t have a Depends on…”

    …even if he doesn’t wear them.

    Ladies and Gentlement, Bob Dylan, for universal love and understanding:

    “Yep, let’s love and understand each other…”

    ~beep~beep! ~INTEGRITY ALARM!!!


    He’s off the *artistic roll call.

    *bill hicks

  • Provocative is cool Shark, but it don’t do you any good if no one is actually provoked. Just trying to do my part.

    but his poetry is now a component of American Marketing. It turns his words and music into a marketing tool that says HE GETS PAID TO ‘SPEAK’.

    Buddy, Bob’s been getting paid to speak since the first coffee house that paid him ten bucks to do a set.

    When he signed a deal with a major record label in 1961, he was DEFINITELY getting paid to speak. He’s never claimed otherwise. And what’s wrong with getting paid to speak? Nice work if you can get it.

    Further, Bob Dylan is all about marketing. Always has been. The whole overwhelming Dylan personae is a huge involved marketing construct- and a brilliant one, I might add.

  • Shark

    AL:Bob’s been getting paid to speak since the first coffee house that paid him ten bucks to do a set.

    There’s a tiny difference in getting paid to perform and getting paid to endorse a product.

    But Al, I do agree that Zimmerman is all about marketing.

    Anyway, I couldn’t stand Dylan BEFORE the commercial, so I don’t really have a dog in this fight.

    Y’all win; Shark loses — Zimmerman stays on the shaky but tall pedestal — and I’m going to console myself by listening to Ramblin’ Jack, Woody Guthrie, and Fred Neil for the rest of the day.

  • hey all.

    so this morning i’m reading the boston globe and there’s an article about Dylan and the lingerie ads….

    and they’re talking about web commentary about the ad:

    ‘Another harumphed that while it was OK to let his song be used for peddling underwear, Dylan “looks like a golden ager gigolo” in the commercial.’

    gee, i wonder who said that?!!!

    anyway, the article can be found here

  • Shark, listen to whatever does it for you. I have my own reservations about Dylan.

    However, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album alone constitutes a greater actual MUSICAL achievement than the combined careers of all three guys you listed.

    He rolled in all kinds of marketing schtick, and people have all kinds of weird little personality things to respond to. Thing is, Dylan has certainly written one of the top dozen or so greatest catalogues of songs of any composer in the rock era.

    He’s more than earned some indulgence.

  • Dylan’s a great artist, but there’s no question he’s a sell-out and a hypocrite in making this commercial. Look at what he said in the liner notes to Biograph, when he bitched and moaned about how commercialism was killing rock and roll:

    You know things go better with Coke because Aretha Franklin told you so and Maxwell House Coffee must be OK because Ray Charles is singing about it. Everybody’s singing about ketchup or headache medicine or something. In the beginning it wasn’t anything like that, had nothing to do with pantyhose and perfume and barbecue sauce …

    The corporate world, when they figured out what it was and how to use it they snuffed the breath out of it and killed it. What do they care? Anything that’s in the way, they run over like a bulldozer, once they understood it they killed it and made it a thing of the past, put up a monument to it and now that’s what you’re hearing, the headstone, it’s a billion dollar business. I don’t know, I guess it’s hard to find flaws with this. Used to be, they were very much afraid, you know, like hide your daughters, that sort of thing … Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry … they all struck fear into the heart. Now they got a purpose sort of … to sell soap, blue jeans, anything, it’s become country club music … White House … Kentucky Fried Chicken … it’s all been neutralized … nothing threatening, nothing magical …. nothing challenging.

  • Shark

    Rodney, thanks for taking the time to find and post that quote. It’s a great quote; too bad Zimmerman forgot he’d made it.

    re: “Dylan’s a great artist, but there’s no question he’s a sell-out and a hypocrite in making this commercial.”

    One outta three ain’t bad.

    PS: I think a men’s underwear commerical using “Blowin’ in the Wind” woulda been awesome. (Run it on FOX during “Married With Children”?)

  • Eric Olsen

    Mark – that’s hilarious! It’s swell to be quoted and all but why wouldn’t the pud LINK to the sites in question instead of using them anonymously – that violates the blogger’s code! Of course the Globe writer is above anything like that.

  • yea, i was only barely conscious when i read that…two sips into my first cup of coffee.

    for a second or two i wondered if i was still dreaming until i remembered where that quote came from.

  • And so the great “Dylan goes elastic” debate rages on. I haven’t seen the ad, and don’t really care until he gets rid of that creepy caterpillar ‘tache. But that’s just me. Who knew Bob was into women’s underwear.

    As for the off the Hicks Institute Artistic Roll Call, does this Willie Nelson can do Victoria’s Secret commercials, because I think they would be really good.

    Y’know cause lingerie models and Willie Nelson are two good tastes that go together.

  • Scott Warmuth

    Did anyone notice that when the Boston Globe quoted Brantley Brock on this blog quoting Dylan at the 1965 press conference they changed Dylan’s actual reply to the question “If you were going to sell out to a commercial interest, which one would you choose?” from “Ladies garments” to “Ladies undergarments.”?

    Was this just unintentional sloppy reporting or an attempt to make more pithy copy? At any rate the Globe’s incorrect “undergarments” line seems to be being picked up by other media outlets.

  • Brantley Brock

    Hey Scott,

    I certainly noticed it! I think that McBrady, in comment 34, might have confused the matter by using the term “undergarments.” The Globe journalist, not knowing which was correct, and too lazy to do the research, may have simply decided to take some poetic license.

  • Antfreeze

    I’ve gotta go with Al on this one. the Bob seems to enjoy making little forays into other areas, like acting occasionally. The man can’t possibly need the money so “selling out” doesn’t really apply. I agree that this commercial was probably just done as a play on his earlier comment about advertising for womens clothing. When someone of his stature still plays over 300 dates a year I don’t think you can say they’re interested in much more than creating and performing good music. The proof was there in his recent cover of the Rolling Stone. Long right hand fingernails, short on the left hand. The man is a guitar player, singer, and america’s greatest songwriter.

  • Antfreeze

    The commercials that really bug me are the ones where some of the performers are dead so they don’t get to vote or profit. I always imagine Bonzo using that fucking Cadillac like a drum kit, just beating the royal crap out of it.

  • ya

    making a comercial doesn’t mean you’re selling out, and once you get a l;ittle older than 15, you’ll see selling out isn’t as important as you think.

    also, i don’t think there’s anyway to compare Dylan and Waits fairly. they’re from two different realms. Tom Waits speaks of the the things Dylan leaves alone, and Dylan speaks of the things Waits isn’t interested in.