Dylan, App Dylan

By: José Manuel Simián

Bob Dylan was the first rock artist to be widely bootlegged. The 1969 Great White Wonder LP inaugurated the tradition of unauthorized recordings by famous rockers who created an alternate canon to their official work. And over the years, the leaks of Dylan’s unreleased recordings kept coming out, sometimes suggesting that he was leaving some of his best songs out of his albums (especially when they were horrible). In 1991, he started his own “Bootleg Series” of rare and unreleased recordings, which over the years has included gems like the recording of that notorious 1966 Manchester concert (where a fan insulted Dylan by yelling “Judas!” for switching from folk to rock and roll).

Last August, Dylan released the 10th volume of his Bootleg Series, giving a new light to his most hated album, Self Portrait. And just to keep the momentum going, a few months later he unleashed the aptly (but not too inventively) titled Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series app. Not that Dylan hasn’t gone down this road before (see his 1995 Highway 61 Interactive CD-ROM), but this app is something else: with a visual time line for each song, video interviews, rare photos and biographical references, it’s exactly what a digital booklet for any album should look like. For now, it covers only Another Self Portrait, but the remaining nine volumes of the Bootleg Series will be added in the future.

The catch? The app comes with only one song—a beautiful demo of the Elvis-themed “Went to See the Gypsy”—and a handful of videos and features. To unlock the rest of the content, like songs from his 1969 Isle of Wight performance, you need to own a legal version of Another Self Portrait. And what if you don’t have one? You can purchase it with just a few clicks, of course.

Nobody ever accused Dylan of not being smart, right?

José Manuel Simián is the Executive Editor of Manero. He used to be a lawyer and is probably listening to Bob Dylan as you read this.