10.03.2016

Bob Dylan & the American Love Affair with the Road

Celebrating American Pride Through A Chrysler Commercial

I've been thinking about road trips recently. Partially because I recommended them in a recent post and partially because Mike and I recently took one. It had been several years since I embarked on a long car trip and I was reminded of the excitement that comes with hitting the American road.

Vast distances and inadequate public transportation make having one's own wheels a necessity for many Americans, and so many towns and cities have developed and grown with the car in mind. Given these realities is it any wonder that Americans are big fans of the car and the open road?

A Super Bowl commercial from 2014, featuring Bob Dylan, perfectly captures not only the essence of the American love affair with cars but our strong sense of identity and American pride.

It is saying something that this commercial has stuck with me for so long. First off, I never watch football so it while I was at a Super Bowl party that evening it is surprising that I was actually paying attention. Secondly, I, like many music lovers, often groan when we seen an American musical icon "selling out" by promoting a consumer good, especially one as corporate and unappealing as Chrysler.

In the sake of full disclosure I'll admit that I'm not a fan of American cars. Of the two cars I have owned and the future cars I think of buying, I have never owned or considered purchasing an American automobile. Foreign manufactures have gotten so much right in terms of fuel efficiency and car utility, and although some American manufacturers have made positive progress in those directions, I still don't think highly of American vehicles or aspire to own one.

Despite my prejudice against American cars and my stubbornness to come around to them, I love this commercial. Although I was the first to shout "sell out," I can see why Bob Dylan made this commercial.The two minute piece uses just 151 words and a series of images to capture an essence. Each word, thought and image has been put to good use and not a single one is wasted. It captures the American spirit and some of the ideas we pride ourselves in - our firsts, our legacy, our ability to inspire.  It speaks to American's desire for individuality and our strong sense of heart, soul and pride.

While I don't believe America makes the best cars and at many times I find myself frustrated with this country, I'd at least like to believe that the American spirit is live and well and viable. I'd like to think we're a land of open-minded, accepting, communal, diverse, motivated, and lively people. I'd like to believe that collectively we will continue to do great things that build our country and inspire the world. Whether all of this is still the case or not, this simple Super Bowl commercial evokes a strong feeling of American pride and unity, captures the American desire for adventure, and reminds us of our love of the open road and the freedom car travel brings.

As a writer, I am amazed that the Dylan commercial describes an abstract concept so compellingly and thoughtfully in just  151 words and a series of images. I one day hope to use so few words ever so wisely. Below is the script from the commercial and you can view the commercial itself by clicking on the above photo or here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY_T-JIDJ-c. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Is there anything more American than America? 
‘Cos you can’t import a vision. 
You can’t fake true cool. 
You can’t duplicate legacy. 
Because what Detroit created was a first, and became an inspiration to the rest of the world. 
Yeah, Detroit made cars and cars made America. 
Making the best, making the finest, takes conviction. 
And you can’t import the heart and soul of every man and woman working on the line.
You can search the world over for the finer things, but you won’t find a match for the American road and the creatures that live on it.
Because we believe in the zoom and the roar and the thrust.
And when it’s made here, it’s made with the one thing you can’t import from anywhere else: American pride.
So let Germany brew your beer. Let Switzerland make your watch. Let Asia assemble your phone.
We will build your car.