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Dylan returns to coffee hubs

Washington, June 29: Bob Dylan is back in the coffee houses where he began as a troubadour, this time making money by selling recordings of his first concerts in New York’s Greenwich Village when he was 20.

A year after his infamous “Hey, Mr Lingerie Man” advertisements for a luxury underwear company, Dylan has made another lucrative deal to give customers of Starbucks Coffee the opportunity to buy his 1962 Gaslight Cafe tapes.

The tapes have traded as bootlegs among collectors for four decades.

The finances of the contract are being kept secret, but with the success last year of his television commercial for Victoria’s Secret, in which he appeared with the half-clad model Adriana Lima, Starbucks is reportedly paying him several million dollars.

Die-hard Dylanologists remain puzzled as to why their hero, already fabulously wealthy, still needs to cut commercial deals. But the singer, who played Maggie’s Farm on electric guitar at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival to cries of “heresy”, obviously relishes the idea of upsetting purists. He remains one of rock’s most astute businessmen, and once charged critics '100 to watch his 25th anniversary gig at Madison Square Garden in New York.

While the Canadian singer Neil Young famously recorded: “Ain’t singing for Pepsi, ain’t singing for Coke, I don’t sing for nobody, makes me look a joke,” Dylan was allowing The Times They Are A-Changin’ to be used in an advertisement for the Bank of Montreal.

Now, in an encroachment on the turf of traditional music retailers, he is allowing Starbucks to sell, along with the lattes and frappuccinos, Bob Dylan: Live at the Gaslight 1962.

The 10 tracks are taken from three Dylan performances at the Gaslight Club. They include the earliest surviving recordings of A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall and Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, along with a third original song, John Brown, together with his versions of traditional ditties such as The Cuckoo and Barbara Allen. Now, Sony BMG has re-mastered the recordings.

Ken Lombard, an executive of Starbucks, which has the rights to sell the CD for 18 months, said: “We’re focusing on providing our customers with unique opportunities.

“We want the music customer to think of Starbucks as a destination.

“This album offers a unique perspective on Dylan when he was an emerging artist. It also captures an important moment in the history of the coffee house culture.”

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