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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bank Jingle Appalls '60s Faithful

TORONTO -- The times indeed have changed.


Outraging some members of the '60s generation, a major Canadian bank is using Bob Dylan's 1964 protest anthem, "The Times They Are A-Changin'" as the theme for its current marketing offensive.


Fans are aiming their wrath not only at the Bank of Montreal but at the hippies-generation folk singer himself, for letting the song go commercial.


The bank is using the song "to help it do what it has always done -- make money," an Ontario reader, Patricia Woodhatch, wrote to the Toronto Globe and Mail. "The real villain is Bob Dylan, who traded in a generation's memories when he allowed the song to be used as an advertising jingle."


The bank, No. 3 in Canada and No. 10 in North America, won't say how much it paid for rights to the song. But executives were unapologetic Wednesday when asked about the ads during a news conference.


"We have done massive amounts of testing, and the reaction is overwhelmingly positive," said bank chairman Matthew Barrett.


An ad shown widely on Canadian television over the past week depicts a throng of children marching through the countryside while Dylan's originally strident song is turned into upbeat, feel-good music.


John Haslett Cuff, a television critic for the Globe and Mail, wrote in a scathing column this week that the bank "has Disneyfied Dylan."


"The notion that such an amoral, ultra-conservative establishment institution would use a civil-rights era protest song to peddle its so-called services, and in the process sanitize a generation's profoundest memories, is disgusting," Cuff wrote.


Dylan's publicist, Elliot Mintz, said Dylan has never referred to "The Times They Are A-Changin'" as a great protest anthem.


"For Bob, it was just a song he wrote," Mintz said in a telephone interview from California.


"One of the cornerstones of the Dylan experience is controversy," Mintz said, recalling various phases of fan uproar when Dylan first used an electric guitar, performed at Las Vegas, and did a country-western album.