NYCD: The Blog

Friday, November 17, 2006


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.


Blogger Michael in New York said...

Modern Times is Dylan's bestseller in 30 years? How so? Right now, it's at #76 on the Billboard charts and has gone gold (sold 500,000 copies, of course). The RIAA site doesn't say anything about it even going platinum, that I see. And of course "the best-selling album in 30 years" could be awarded (sort of) to any album that goes platinum, since gold or platinum is as far as any albums' gone since 1976's Desire, Blood on the Tracks before that and only two hits collections that have gone 5 times platinum. I'd say if it goes double platinum (very doubtful) you could make that claim. Otherwise, it's done what virtually every Dylan (and Streisand) album does: gone gold or platinum.

1:47 AM  
Blogger NYCD Online said...

M.I.N.Y., I must admit I forgot the platinum "Slow Train Coming" from 1979. But you have clearly forgotten the 15 or so albums of new material 'twixt then and now which didn't manage to sell in their entire shelf lives the 320,000 copies "Modern Times" moved in its first week alone. Even his more successful albums like "Oh Mercy" and "Infidels" didn't move the numbers this one has. For a more recent comparison, "Modern Times" sold more than twice as many in its first week as "Love And Theft" did. (And I didn't see any teens at his concerts in 2001-02, either.) Coincidence? I don't think so.

7:35 PM  

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