Bob Dylan has thoughts on the impact streaming has had on music. You might just have to read them a couple times to fully grasp them.
Dylan said that streaming has made music “too smooth and painless” in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, published on Monday and timed with his new book “The Philosophy of Modern Song.”
Here’s his full, wide-ranging answer:
“Everything’s too easy. Just one stroke of the ring finger, middle finger, one little click, that’s all it takes. We’ve dropped the coin right into the slot. We’re pill poppers, cube heads and day trippers, hanging in, hanging out, gobbling blue devils, black mollies, anything we can get our hands on. Not to mention the nose candy and ganga grass. It’s all too easy, too democratic. You need a solar X-ray detector just to find somebody’s heart, see if they still have one.”
In 2020, The New York Times interviewed the singer-songwriter — who rarely gives interviews — for a piece titled “Bob Dylan has a lot on his mind.”
Dylan, who is 81 years old, is the 46th best-selling music artist of all time in the US, according to the Recording Industry Association of America’s tally of total certified album units sold, which includes digital figures.
Dylan has over 9 million monthly active listeners on music streaming platform Spotify. His latest album, “Rough and Rowdy Ways,” was released in 2020. In 2022, he sold his back catalog of recorded music to Sony Music in a deal that Variety reported was worth between $150 million and $200 million.
Dylan’s seen the music industry, and how listeners consume music, change drastically over his six-decade career. He released his first, self-titled album in 1962. At the time, people could only listen to music over the radio or on vinyl records; music cassette tapes weren’t introduced until the later 1960s.
Dylan also compared technology to “sorcery” in his chat with WSJ.
“It’s a magic show, conjures up spirits, it is an extension of our body, like the wheel is an extension of our foot,” Dylan said. “But it might be the final nail driven into the coffin of civilization; we just don’t know.”