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Freewheelin’ Dylan

Bob dylan, thanks to a generation of ex-hippies and peaceniks now spending the last stretch of their professional lives as ad execs and other responsible tax-paying citizens, has been a byword for counter-culture.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2009 12:24 IST

Bob dylan, thanks to a generation of ex-hippies and peaceniks now spending the last stretch of their professional lives as ad execs and other responsible tax-paying citizens, has been a byword for counter-culture. While some remember Dylan betraying the ‘folk music cause’ by ‘going electric’ and thereby embracing rock music and moving out of the shoebox marked ‘protest singer’, many of us still hold on to his music and words as poetic gestures against complacency and authority figures.

Well, now it turns out that the most iconic counter-cultural ditty of them all, Blowin’ in the wind, has got its writer’s green signal to be used as a soundtrack in a series of British supermarket advertisements. Does that shock you? Does the news make you start putting all those Dylan CDs in a biodegradable box and replacing them with multiple copies of albums by ‘Let’s Save the World’ Coldplay?

Well, then you’re just being silly and dogmatic about what Bob Dylan is. This isn’t the first time that Dylan has ‘disappointed’ his devotees. Apart from the ‘Judas’ moment when he turned to the electric guitar in 1966, his cavortings with scantily clad women in a Victoria’s Secret ad caused much grief among the polo-necked crowd. The truth is the singer-songwriter is much less predictable than his admirers would like him to be. Which makes him not so much a counter-cultural figure but a counter-counter-cultural one. Or should that be counter-counter-counter-cultural? Or....