Interactive Dylan video takes surreal roll through TV land

Cutting-edge new video for the 1965 Bob Dylan song "Like a Rolling Stone" lets you flip through TV channels as a host of recognizable characters lip-synch their way through the iconic song.

Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited
Columbia Records

Almost 50 years after Bob Dylan released "Like a Rolling Stone" as a single, the song is finally getting an official music video. And as one might imagine from a song about alienation and aimlessness, it features a cartoon cat and the host of "The Price of Right."

The vid, which went live on Bob Dylan's official Web site Tuesday, employs interactive technology to let viewers flip though 16 faux TV channels in real time. The channels feature snippets from real shows -- ESPN sports updates and History Network programs, for example -- alongside others that mimic reality TV shows like "The Bachelor." All the while, recognizable TV personalities such as Drew Carey, comedian Marc Maron, and the cast of "Pawn Stars" mouth the words to the classic song.

Scattered among the 21st century images, the video flashes vintage footage of Dylan and historical images from his years as a cultural icon. Hitting up and down keys on a keyboard lets viewers change channels as often or little as they want, meaning no two people will experience the interactive video in the same way.

Make of the pastiche what you will, but Dylan's confrontational '60s lyrics mouthed from shiny cable TV sets make for a fascinating juxtaposition of counterculture and 21st century pop culture.

It's wonderfully absurd to see a smiling Jonathan and Drew Scott of HGTV's "Property Brothers" checking out marble countertops with potential homebuyers while lip-synching "How does it feel to be on your own, with no direction home, like a complete unknown?" Or an uber-cheerful man and woman on a shopping channel hawking a dustbuster while mouthing, "You're invisible now. You got no secrets to conceal."

Produced by digital-media company Interlude, the Dylan video coincides with the release of the "The Complete Album Collection Volume 1," a 47-CD boxed set by Columbia/Legacy Recordings.

As it and other interactive music videos demonstrate, we've come a long way since the early days of MTV videos.

A promotional film for the Arcade Fire single "Reflektor" lets you help design the visual effects with a wave of your mobile device. A music video for the duo Big Data stars your own Facebook profile . Zoom in on an area of an interactive Google world map, and the backdrop in a Lissie Maurus video changes according to the local weather.

But "Like a Rolling Stone" sung to the scroll of a stock ticker? Something's happening here, Mr. Jones.

"Like a Rolling Stone," as sung by two shopping channel personalities. Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

About the author

Leslie Katz, Crave's senior editor, heads up a team that covers the most crushworthy (and wackiest) tech, science, and culture around. As a co-host of the now-retired CNET News Daily Podcast, she was sometimes known to channel Terry Gross and still uses her trained "podcast voice" to bully the speech recognition software on automated customer service lines. E-mail Leslie.

 

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