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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Don't be surprised

Bob Dylan has sold out. Actually, that's (maybe) unfair. Starbucks have announced a deal for the exclusive marketing rights to a new Dylan CD. The release is an early Dylan's recording at the Gaslight coffee house in New York's Greenwich Village in the autumn of 1962.

Dylan has been fighting his public image for more than four decades so what's a mutually acceptable financial agreement with a chain selling average, frothy coffee?

Mike Marqusee writes in the Guardian: "With its corporate regimentation and single-minded dedication to maximising profit, Starbucks is diametrically opposed to the ethos of the Gaslight. In fact its cut-throat policies have pushed independent coffee houses out of business." And yet it likes to portray itself as your one-stop-cosy-shop for all things hot.

Marquess says that, "it's impossible not to marvel at the apparently limitless capacity of corporate behemoths to appropriate the trappings of their opponents - from images of Che Guevara to G8 protests."

Perhaps Sir Bob was in need of some cash. After all, he featured in a 2004 ad for Victoria's Secret lingerie.


Blogger Iqbal Khaldun said...

Yeah sadly not that surprising, as you write. On a number of occasions in the recent past, Dylan has said he's no counterculture revolutionary.

Did you catch Alice Cooper's interview on Denton? Man, what a total paper tiger!

Thursday, June 30, 2005 4:41:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Yep, saw Alice Cooper. I remember reading he loved the Bush doctrine. Seems like Alice has been reading his PNAC briefings. Such hiariously simplistic view of the world. Still, he's a rock God, I s'pose, though never did much for me.

Thursday, June 30, 2005 4:56:00 pm  
Blogger Iqbal Khaldun said...

Yeah it's why pop culture is such a paradox. Music can be a terrific instrument for social change. It can as easily be an empty cash cow for big business. In developed nations it tends to be the latter. But in many other nations big music stars are icons for social movements. Have you seen the excellent Amandla? It's a documentary re the music of the anti-Apartheid struggle.

Thursday, June 30, 2005 7:34:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Have heard of Amandla but not seen it. I think it's been on SBS, or if not, maybe soon...

Thursday, June 30, 2005 7:53:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look beyond Bob to the mesmerising power of the Starbucks marketing lingo. Positively hypnotic.
One of yesterday's heroes has been invaded by the bodysnatchers.
In today's SMH, Starbuck executive Ken Lombard is quoted thus:
'We're focusing on providing our customers with unique opportunities. We want the music customer to think of Starbucks as a destination. [Gaslight Cafe] captures an important moment in the history of the coffee house culture.'
Hello? If you still have your senses after that onslaught, reach for a critical analysis of an increasingly hegemonic language.
The French were smart enough to see it coming, but not smart enough to couch their disdain in language that mere mortals can understand.
Starbucks vs the French at ten paces. The answer, my friend is blowing out your arse.

Thursday, June 30, 2005 8:16:00 pm  

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