The times, they are indeed a-changin’ and the songwriter who once was super careful to hang on to his own copyrights in his seventh decade apparently decided to be careful no longer.
Universal Music Publishing announced Monday that it has signed a “landmark agreement” with Bob Dylan for his life’s work “from 1962’s cultural milestone ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ to this year’s epic ‘Murder Most Foul’.”
“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,” said Jody Gerson, chairperson and CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group in a statement.
Born Robert Allen Zimmerman to a Jewish couple in Duluth, Minnesota, Dylan began his musical search for meaning as soon as he set out on his own in September 1959, while starting University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
But it wasn’t until the early 1960s that Bob Dylan began to make a name for himself playing at folk clubs in Greenwich Village; and in 1965 he raised eyebrows with an electric set at the Newport Folk Festival.
In 2016 Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature but declined to attend the ceremony to receive the award in person. Instead, he asked US Ambassador to Sweden Azita Raji to deliver the speech he wrote, at the Nobel Banquet. In that speech, he explained: “getting to make a record and then hearing my songs on the radio … that was really the big prize in my mind. Making records and hearing your songs on the radio meant that you were reaching a big audience and that you might get to keep doing what you had set out to do.”
More than 600 of Dylan’s copyrighted songs, written over a span of six decades, are now owned by the company.
Last month a set of Dylan documents, including unpublished song lyrics and the songwriter’s comments about anti-Semitism, sold at auction for nearly half a million dollars, NBC News reported.
“It is no exaggeration to say that his vast body of work has captured the love and admiration of billions of people all around the world,” said Lucian Grainge, Chairperson and CEO of Universal Music Group in announcing the deal.
“I have no doubt that decades, even centuries from now, the words and music of Bob Dylan will continue to be sung and played – and cherished – everywhere.”
Whether or not that is true, of course, is Blowin’ In The Wind.