Sunday, November 06, 2005

Bob Dylan, business, and blogs

Bob Dylan, Business, and Blogs

John O'Leary has an interesting post, dated Novemeber 3, 2005, on the Tom Peters! blog, entitled "Creative Destruction".

It's about the recent PBS Martin Scorcese documentary on Bob Dylan "No Direction Home".

The only marketing minds I trust and respect unreservedly are:

* Tom Peters

* Christopher Locke

* Seth Godin

* Al Ries

* John Hagel

Check out the post, and my reply posted as a comment to it.


Creative Destruction

Folks I know are still abuzz over the Martin Scorsese documentary on Bob Dylan, No Direction Home, telecast a few weeks ago on the Public Broadcasting System.

It's no surprise that my musician and actor friends have been energized by it, but business clients, too?

What gives?

Maybe it's because so many leaders in business are baby boomers and Dylan was a major contributor to the soundtrack of their lives in their formative years. But more importantly, the film is a powerful reminder that it sometimes makes business sense to blow up what you're successfully doing and start over.

No Direction Home accurately portrays Dylan as a pioneer/mutineer who kept burning his bridges and creating new markets as he moved on.

Initially he branded himself as a traditional folk singer, then as a singer of self-penned topical protest songs, then as a stream-of-consciousness psychedelic poet, then as a rock star—before retiring, temporarily, in the late 1960s.

Want to see creative destruction in action?

Witness Dylan "going electric" at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 (and in other concerts for the next two years) with a noisy band of rock musicians—a move that ENRAGED many of his core customers.

Yet Dylan picked up new customers with every reboot. He'd be loathe to call it a business strategy, but it was certainly a successful one.

Something here for us to learn?

John O'Leary posted this on 11/03.


Now here's my rushed response, not even picking up on the central concept of "creative destruction" and "reinventing oneself", two topics I typically favor.


My VTG blog deals primarily with blogology and web usability issues, yet I was compelled to post about the Dylan Scorcese film broadcast on PBS.

I was stunned by the effect the Dylan documentary had on me. I immediately emailed my best friend in Hollywood, Bennett Theissen, and told him it was like a seminar.

Like a seminar. Fascinating to hear you write that many business people were inspired by that Dylan film. It is a charismatic non-conformist we look up to, Bob Dylan, the troubadour of troubled times.

Every business person needs a favorite poet, favorite protest singer, favorite subversive ideology, favorite social cause.

Mammonism is debunked by the Supreme Reality of the Blogosphere: the Rise of Individual Voice.

Two Way Interactive Conversation is a close second in importance, but Independent Thought/Individual Voice is the highest reality.

I will do a post quoting this one today.

Posted by Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate at November 6, 2005 12:55 PM

[REPLY by John O'Leary, to entire comment thread under this post]

"Low talent big media push?"

According to almost any songwriter, musician, or music critic you talk to, Dylan at his creative peak (say, 1963 to 1966?) along with the Beatles was the biggest creative force in popular music in the last half century.

Every critics’ poll I’ve seen reflects this.

Dylan’s freewheeling lyrical style (alternately acerbic, mystical, impressionistic) single-handedly altered the direction of the Beatles’ creativity (especially John Lennon's) and the pop music landscape in the sixties.

Almost no pop music artist dared to perform socially relevant music or sing blatantly poetic lyrics B.D. (before Dylan).

Dylan’s influence can be heard in the singer-songwriter movement beginning in the 1970s, all the way to rock/hip-hop stars of today.

No Dylan = no Bono, no Eminem.

Dylan’s lyrics are the subject of college courses (even at Harvard) and 34 books.

Google turns up 170,000 results for "dylan lyrics."

No other single pop/rock music performer, from Elvis on, has been subject to as much academic analysis and scrutiny. (Now whether one LIKES his songs, his singing, his politics, his religious views, etc. is a different matter.)

Posted by John O'Leary at November 6, 2005 01:15 PM



bigshoulders said...

interesting reading. i'm not a dylanologist, per se, but i have loved his music (and his storied musical journey) ever since i really discovered music.

steven edward streight said...

Dylan is way better than 98% of other music artists, but I lost interest in him after the "Desire" album.

Now, I'm going back and re-discovering his work. Very impressive. My favorites are "Blood on the Tracks", "Blonde on Blonde", "Hard Rain", "Self-Portrait", "Empire Burlesque".

But I need to re-acquire such LPs as "John Wesley Harding" and others I used to like a lot.

Such amazing lyrics. "Blood on the Tracks" songs make me cry, there are some astonishing love songs in that LP.