BOB DYLAN, TEEN IDOL
I saw Bob Dylan in concert twice this week, and at each one I saw something I never thought I'd see: teenage girls. Lots of them. And not just tagging along with their parents, either, but really getting into the music, singing along, getting up and dancing to the fast songs... what's going on here?
Dylan hasn't evolved into a guys' musician in the way, say, Bruce Springsteen has, but he's definitely shed a lot of female fans over the years, especially younger ones. The general under-35 female response when I mention Dylan is "Yeah, I know he's a great songwriter, but... 'Eeeuuuuhhhhh!'" (That's a reference to his Blonde On Blonde-era nasal whine, in case you couldn't tell.) Up until this year, being a Dylan fan usually meant you were either a male music geek or over 40, or both. So what happened?
The answer, I'm guessing, is Dylan's iPod commercial. By seeing his music marketed in the same way as a band a third his age, teens and 20-somethings got hip to the fact that Bob may be an old geezer, but he's a friggin' cool old geezer. So it came as no surprise that the teens' most enthusiastic response of the night came not for the old warhorses (although they dug those too), but songs from his new album, Modern Times -- which, by the way, has become his biggest seller in 30 years.
So let this be a lesson to the record labels. Kids aren't as close-minded or as stupid as the suits in charge seem to think. Let's just hope the right people remember that fact the next time they're figuring out how to market artists who don't appear to fit into the right demographic.