Following last week’s tribute to Pete Seeger, here’s another American folk legend with a Marilyn connection. Bob Dylan – perhaps the most influential singer-songwriter of the 20th century – has appeared in an ad for Chrysler, screened during last night’s Superbowl. (You can watch it here.)
To the tune of his song, ‘Things Have Changed’, Bob muses on what it means to be American; accompanied by a montage of iconic images, including a laughing Marilyn, filmed at a press conference in 1956, when she returned to Hollywood after a year’s absence to star in Bus Stop.
While some of Dylan’s fans aren’t too thrilled with the advertising deal, it’s a lovely tribute to Marilyn and a timely reminder of all the things that made America great.
Monroe fans may be interested to know that Dylan has expressed his admiration for ‘our girl’ many times.
Once asked who he’d like to interview Dylan replied: `A lot of people who aren’t alive: Hank Williams, Apollinaire, Joseph from the Bible, Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy, Mohammed, Paul The Apostle, maybe John Wilkes Booth, maybe Gogol. I’d like to interview people who died leaving a great unsolved mess behind, who left people for ages with nothing to do but speculate.’
And this quote is a favourite of mine…
‘People like to talk about the new image of America, but to me it’s still the old one – Marlon Brando, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe … I like to stay part of that stuff that don’t change.’
Speaking with Interview magazine in 1986, Bob listed Marilyn’s breakthrough role in The Asphalt Jungle (1950) among his top five movie performances by any actress. Many years earlier, Marilyn had named it as her personal favourite.
Dylan also wrote a poem about Marilyn, after seeing a photograph of her home on the day she died. It is published in his 2008 book Hollywood Foto-Rhetoric, a collaboration with photographer Barry Feinstein:
death silenced her pool
the day she died
her little toy dogs
but left no trace
Finally, Bob and Marilyn are both featured in Gregory Blann’s ‘1962’, published in Roger G. Taylor’s 2006 book, Marilyn in Art.