“Early Roman Kings” fiasco!

Alright: “fiasco” is way too strong a word to use for the current situation surrounding “Early Roman Kings,” the first song we have heard from Bob Dylan’s forthcoming album Tempest, but I came up with this title for the post and was so charmed by it that I just had to use it.

As part of the marketing for the new Bob Dylan record, two of the songs are being debuted on a Cinemax TV show called “Strike Back,” which apparently concerns the adventures of an exciting counter-terrorism unit. I don’t have Cinemax, so I don’t know this show from “Mister Ed,” but three cheers for counter-terrorists.

So our first listen to part of a song from the new album comes in a two minute trailer for the new series of “Strike Back.” (A second song, “Scarlet Town,” will debut in an August 17th episode of the same show.) The trailer clip is embedded below.


The indignity of it all needs little elaboration. Trying to listen to the song above the dialogue and incidental sounds of the trailer is irritating in the extreme.

Like me, I think a lot of people on first hearing will be thinking that the song sounds a little disappointing in terms of being another take on “I’m a Man” or “Mannish Boy;” i.e. an old repetitive blues groove where we’d been expecting something different from the new Dylan album. However, on the plus side, and after a couple of listens, I’m noting some pretty sharp and funny lyrics and an overall sense of engagement and energy that is endearing. And all we are hearing is less than two minutes, interrupted by the aforementioned sounds of the TV show.

For a very old form of music, we’re certainly getting some cutting-edge marketing. Anyway, the whole thing should not be taken so seriously, after all. May the Good Lord hasten the day that we can hear the entire album, properly.

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