Hogan's Alley

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Times They Are A-Changin'

On my trip this weekend to the Washington DC area I caught on TV, several times, a commercial for Kaiser-Permanente Health. Since there is no Kaiser facility in the NY area the commercial has never appeared here.

The commercial shows a middle aged man struggling to accomplish physical tasks, he then begins to work out and improvement is seen. The jarring thing for me was the sound track. It was Bob Dylan singing his 60's anthem, "The Times They Are A-Changin'".

I don't begrudge any artist making a buck from his creative fruits. I have enjoyed commercials featuring the music of the Stones, the Who, etc. Yet somehow hearing this particular song in a commercial was a bit of a shock. After all, this song was arguably the central protest hymn of the 60's. It energized me and many of my generation to take action on the civil rights front and in the anti-Vietnam War movement.

I couldn't locate a copy of the ad on the web, but my research did show that this pairing of Dylan and Kaiser first appeared in 2004. At that time it was noted by several commentators. I just missed it since it apparently wasn't covered in the national media, except for Time.

The most humorous comment was made in Time by Albert Brooks in 2005 when a second campaign using the song was launched. Speaking about his generation, his key quote:

I was feeling OK about us, I really was, that is until Madison Avenue stepped in and told me the truth. Aging is like going through a funnel. You start out with so much room, spinning so fast, wondering just how far you can go, but in the end you wind up going through that hole. That little hole. And since you can't take it with you, Kaiser Permanente wants it. I just wish Bob Dylan had held out a bit longer. I don't think Kaiser deserved that song. I think he should have saved "The Times They Are A-Changin' " for Depends.