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Posted on Dec 7, 2015

Art or Commerce? Or Both? Bob Dylan Box Set presents challenge.

Art or Commerce? Or Both? Bob Dylan Box Set presents challenge.

I admit to a Bob Dylan addiction. Nonetheless I have a mixed, uneasy reaction to the latest box set release. I want it !! I don’t want it.

I’m talking about “Cutting Edge 1965-66”, the box set of 18-unreleased CDs, in a limited edition of 5000. It’s not just the money – carries a big price tag. And the over-zealous promotion, and the “limited edition” appeal is not unexpected: Bob has been a money- making machine for a long time.

It’s probably the idea that so much time needs to be invested – days or weeks to just get through it even once. It seems too big a price to pay.

Dylan said “Don’t look back” and he has kept moving forward for an entire career. So why should we, his most devoted followers, spend all that time to look back at him, even at his most creative? If time were limitless, I’d go for it.

One more thing: I don’t need another artifact on my shelf. Or files on my hard disk, for that matter.

The promo email I  received (below) reads like an late night tv huckster pitch – order now, limited quantity, free bonus if you act now !! Way over the top, Columbia Records.

I don’t begrudge Bob being a money-making machine. Commercial success doesn’t limit his art. He is fulfilling his own prediction: ”

Do you know where I can get rid of these things
And Louie the King said let me think for a minute son
And he said yes I think it can be easily done
Just take everything down to Highway 61.

The world of commerce on Main Street (aka Highway 61) rules and over-rules.  Bob also said,  “Money doesn’t talk, it sneers.”

Really I’m ok with it. The music is amazing. The creativity and genius is there. The impact is for generations.

For those that want it, go for it. I’m stepping back… got to move forward in another direction.

I have listened to the more compact 2-CD highlights selection. Very worthwhile fascinating look into a creative process.
Here is the latest email promoting the mammoth package:

If you own the 18-CD Bob Dylan’s The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12 – Collector’s Edition, the holidays are coming early for you via a special gift from Columbia Records: 208 tracks encompassing more than ten hours of live Bob Dylan performances from his landmark 1965 tours, including 14 complete concerts – both acoustic and electric – and an array of recordings from television shows, hotel rooms, and other live appearances. Only 5,000 copies of the Collector’s Edition have been produced, and less than 600 remain available for sale, exclusively Once they’re gone…they’re gone!
Current owners of the Collector’s Edition were alerted via email earlier and provided with details of how to redeem their treasure-trove of live Dylan performances. New buyers of the set will receive the same details in an email confirming their purchases.

This incredible set 18-cd set encompasses every note recorded during Bob’s 1965-1966 recording sessions, including every alternate take and alternate lyric. All of the previously unreleased recordings have been mixed from the original studio tracking tapes, eliminating unwanted 1960s-era studio processing and artifice. This edition also includes Dylan’s original nine mono 45 RPM singles released during the time period, packaged in newly created picture sleeves featuring global images from the era.

The complete list of gifted live performances is as follows:
February 17, 1965 (Les Crane Show, WABC-TV Studios, New York City, New York)
March 27, 1965 (Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, California)
April 30, 1965 (The Oval, City Hall, Sheffield, England)
May 1, 1965 (Odeon, Liverpool, England)
May 2, 1965 (De Montfort Hall, Leicester, England)
May 5, 1965 (Town Hall, Birmingham, England)
May 6, 1965 (City Hall, Newcastle, England)
May 7, 1965 (Free Trade Hall, Manchester, England)
May 8, 1965 (Savoy Hotel, London, England)
May 9, 1965 (Royal Albert Hall, London, England)
May 10, 1965 (Royal Albert Hall, London, England)
June 1, 1965 (BBC Studios, London, England)
July 24, 1965 (Contemporary Songs Workshop, Newport Folk Festival, Freebody Park, Newport, Rhode Island)
July 25, 1965 (Newport Folk Festival, Freebody Park, Newport, Rhode Island)
August 28, 1965 (Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, Queens, New York)
September 3, 1965 (Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, California)
October 29 or 31, 1965 (Back Bay Theater, Boston, Massachusetts)
October 30, 1965 (Bushnell Memorial Hall, Hartford, CT)
December 4, 1965 (Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, California)

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