In what may be the largest purchase of a songwriter’s work ever — over 600 songs — Bob Dylan has sold his entire song catalogue to Universal Music Publishing, announced Monday, December 7th. Dylan’s career spanned over 58 years; he kicked it off in 1962, and shortly after he would become a voice of a generation. The deal was struck directly with Dylan himself, who has ever since had impressive control over most of his work. A specific price for his entire catalogue was not announced, however, reports suggest it amounts to a grand total of at least $300million. According to The New York Times, Jody Gerson, the chief executive of Universal’s publishing division, remarked, “To represent the body of work of one of the greatest songwriters of all time — whose cultural importance can’t be overstated — is both a privilege and a responsibility.”
Not only is Dylan revered as one of the, if not, greatest songwriters ever to have lived, but he is a cultural icon and a hero to millions. His legacy doesn’t stop in the realm of music though; Bob Dylan, first and foremost, was a poet, and in 2016, he was rightfully but yet controversially so, awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Many criticised the decision to award Dylan this prestigious, and vaguely-academic prize. Puritans were livid with the fact that a musician trespassed into their territory. Nevertheless, the support was inevitably overwhelming; which is no surprise as Dylan is infamous for doing things his way. Not only would he usually succeed, but in the process, would also win the hearts of his haters. A quote comes to mind by Johnny Depp’s character from the film, The Libertine: “In my experience, those who do not like you fall into two categories: The stupid and the envious. The stupid will like you in five years’ time. The envious, never.” To top it all off, the troubadour didn’t even show up; case in point. His decision to not go can probably be ascribed to the fact that ultimately he is a descendent of Woodie Guthrie — a true rebel spirit. Ultimately, he very humbled to receive the award and in an acceptance speech read on his behalf, stated: “I am speechless”.
Bob Dylan has always had a propensity to do the opposite of what the public wants him to do. On July 25th, 1965, Bob Dylan went on stage at the Newport Folk Festival, and presented himself as fully transformed; where honest and piercing eyes penetrated the audience—as he strummed his acoustic guitar—were now replaced with a more of a rock n’ roll demeanour; donned with black shades, and an electric guitar, he sneered at acceptance. Many in the audience were infuriated and some screamed at the singer, as Dylan shouted at them “How does it feel?” Whenever he would reach the chorus of Like a Rolling Stone. According to Time Magazine, Dylan asked, “I try my best to be just like I am, but everybody wants me to be just like them.”