Known Johnson

July 29, 2008

Dylan wants to be Trent Reznor, misses the mark by so much

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 4:47 pm

Bob Dylan is releasing another in his ongoing series of official bootlegs in early October, this one focusing on the period from Oh Mercy through Modern Times. Sweet! says I, as I’m getting a little tired of the archeology – I like Dylan’s more recent output the most. Blasphemer, I know. Sorry – aside from Highway 61 Revisited, Blood on the Tracks and, for some weird reason, New Morning, I don’t really care all that much for his older stuff.

I’m getting off track. There is to be a two disc version that culls material from not only the studio sessions for those albums but also live material but . . . and this is where I fume a bit and start drumming my fingers on the desk to indicate my displeasure, for a mere $111 more, fans will get a third disc of material and a couple books of photos and other junk. Seriously. Go read.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – you’re thinking about how I bought that deluxe edition of Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts I-IV earlier this year, aren’t you? There are some differences here. First, Ghosts could be had in its entirety free. FREE. The Creative Commons license on it entitled anyone to make a copy of the whole damned thing and give it to anyone for any reason. Not sell it, but give it away. (And yet people chose to pay to download it, or, even better, buy the expensive boxes. Cool.) The box simply gave you nice packaging – there is very little in the box itself that is not widely available on the internet. Multitracks? You can find ’em, but they’re in the box. The box was simply something for fans to buy as a statement of interest. You bought it because you wanted it, and I wanted it unlike pretty much any other music-related thing I’ve ever seen. I bought it. I love it – I love walking in and seeing it every day. It’s a beautiful thing.

The thing with it is there is no “dangling carrot” – I bought it knowing there was nothing extra to be gained by buying it. All of us who bought it did so with the same knowledge. Making that kind of decision is tremendously freeing. It feels wonderful to not feel like you have to buy something to get the extras. It was bought to have, plain and simple. Dylan and/or his people aren’t seeing this.

I don’t blame him for not offering the material for free, but I do blame him for standing behind this ridiculous pricing scheme. There is no justification for this. Make the box available for die-hards if you want, but make available a simple three-disc version for a bit higher price for people like me who simply want the music. I don’t care about the 150 page photo book of singles. I don’t need it. That, to me, appears to be the one and only unique feature of this set. What else is pushing the cost up so high? I know it’s not the extra CD itself. Packaging? Put the extra disc in a cardboard sleeve and stick it in the little box that the set will come in, as other bonus discs have been inserted in the past. Nothing extravagant need be done to include the music of the third disc. But we’re apparently not going to get it . . . unless a certain big-box store with a blue and yellow color scheme and a price-sticker for a logo might happen to have a plan to include it as a bonus. You never know. But if so, they’re being remarkably gross by not telling people that it will be available in a cheaper version – there are die-hard Dylanophiles who want this disc who will go out of their way to get it, but don’t really care about the expensive package.

I imagine, and hope, that if it doesn’t work out that there is a store-exclusive on this third disc, that the third disc’s contents are spread far and wide across the internet the minute they become available, and it would be even more fulfilling if, in addition to mp3s, lossless formats like FLAC files were utilized so that no quality is lost. It would just be so satisfying to see a greedy campaign like this deflated like it should be. If it were to be done right, they could count on a majority of Dylan fans happily handing over money for three discs of this material. As it is, I see a lot of angry fans decrying yet another wrong-headed move by an out of touch older performer. Maybe it’s early enough that it’ll get through and a cheaper three-disc package will suddenly appear – you know, “Oops, we forgot to mention this one . . .” Kind of like Neil Young and his big Archives box set proclamation: “NO CDs, just Blu-Ray and DVD.” Except now that the internet has gotten through yelling about being forced to buy Blu-Ray players just to watch his music, a very minor addition to the press release came out this week and included the original version of the set – CDs will now be released, probably because people yelled about it for the past three months. You know, kind of like this: “Neil Young, we like LISTENING to your MUSIC. We don’t want to LOOK at you.” Let’s see if something similar happens with this Dylan thing.



  1. […] is looking very familiar to the Dylan debacle I mentioned last week, only not as ridiculously expensive. And, man, they’re really hurting […]

    Pingback by David Gilmour wants to be Trent Reznor, ends up looking more like Bob Dylan — August 6, 2008 @ 5:17 pm | Reply

  2. […] comes this annoying, but funny bit of truth about that ultra-expensive three-disc edition that I ranted about a while back: Allegedly, when a journalist asked someone from Dylan’s “camp” about the […]

    Pingback by Bootlegging the bootleg — October 29, 2008 @ 12:13 pm | Reply

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