The essential Bob Dylan

This probably is the last post before Midwinter, and it’s not a “library post.”

Nope, this is about TV and music, sort of.

We tried out the premiere of Love Monkey last night. (Yes, it was on Tuesday–but it was 10-11 p.m., and I just don’t stay up that late. Our S-VHS recorder still works just fine, though–no DVR, not yet…) We loved Tom Cavanaugh (sp?) in Ed, and the premise seemed promising (although it’s odd that it’s on so late), so…

Overall conclusion: We’re not sure. It’s part of the record list for the period in which I’m gone; we’ll give it another try. We’re slow to add new TV shows, but this one may have promise.


Twice in the episode–once as a, shall we say, odd choice as a baby shower gift, once as an offhand gesture as Tom started his new job–there was a handoff/gift of The Essential Bob Dylan. And on both occasions, Tom (who’s supposed to be a great A&R man with a golden ear and encyclopedic knowledge of music and the recording industry) made a comment about “Every song he ever recorded.”

The trouble is, The Essential Bob Dylan isn’t like all those “555-” phone numbers. It’s one of many Sony “The Essential…” twofers (here’s the Gracenote search result, look at Disc 1 and Disc 2–the third link is either wrong or for some bizarre single-disc version), one of the reasons I can’t quite bring myself to boycott Sony entirely.

“The Essential…” sets provide well-chosen, usually well-mastered cross-sections of an artist’s Columbia-related career in two very full CDs, usually 70 to 75 minutes each, typically as many as 20 songs per CD; some stores have sold the sets for as little as $12 to $14, making them incredible bargains for artists that aren’t well represented in your collection. I’ve probably purchased a dozen of them over the years. (The qualifier above is important: if most of an artist’s work was not with Columbia-affiliated labels, you’re only getting an odd chunk.)

But, geez, “every song ever recorded” by Bob Dylan would be a pretty big box set, unless it was released on Blu-ray discs (in which case, with 50GB capacity per disc, you could theoretically put the equivalent of 130 CDs in a two-disc set, and I think that would be more than enough for all of Dylan’s recordings).

And the CD box was sufficiently visible to lead me to believe that it actually was The Essential Bob Dylan. It was the thickness of a typical “Essential” two-disc set.

Why does this matter? Maybe it doesn’t–but suspension of disbelief in a “normal” TV show or movie is a tricky thing. I winced both times Tom made the ludicrous claim. I strongly suspect that both mentions were “in-show advertising,” paid for by Sony; otherwise, a made-up name like “The Bob Dylan Universe” would have avoided the break with reality. Sort of a shame, really.

One Response to “The essential Bob Dylan”

  1. Jason says:

    I intentionally held off on watching “Love Monkey” specifically because of the embedded advertising that Iknew would be coming. I swear that I read a story which talked about the show, and how CBS was going to use it as a way of leveraging musical ads/pushing new groups.

    I at least like my ads to be honest, and not hide behind the context of the show. That’s one of the reasons I can hardly watch anything on Bravo anymore…too many embedded ads.