Local Current Blog

Chinese tech company puts Bob Dylan lyrics inside potato chip bags

These Bob Dylan-themed potato chip bags have started to gain buzz on social media, but don’t get your hopes up for “Lay’s, Lady, Lay’s” snacks.

Instead of chips, each of the bags solely contains a different booklet of Bob Dylan lyrics translated in Chinese. Together, the eight booklets make up a Chinese version of Bob Dylan’s The Lyrics: 1961-2012, which was released in October 2016.

The project is the brainchild of the Chinese tech company Tencent. According to its website, the company hired 15 poets and musicians to translate Bob Dylan’s lyrics. Afterwards, they say on their website, they chose potato chip bags to market the booklets because they’re so ubiquitous, making Dylan’s poetry more accessible. (Thanks to MPR News intern Danielle Wong for assistance with translation.)

Consumers can either find all eight of the chip bags to own the entire collection, or order the booklets together online, which come packaged in a cardboard box styled like a vintage suitcase.

Lastly, the company offers a time machine-themed display case, which comes with five sets (40 booklets total) — perfect for five or more Dylan fans, the company points out. Other suggestions for the display case include putting it your living room, office, bookstore, coffee shop or a bar.

Weirdness set aside, a video on the website conveys a serious appreciation for Dylan’s lyrics. Translators discuss Dylan’s genius, and address how his often political messages can be challenging to listeners and readers in China, where the government tends to keep a tight lid on expression. They also speak about the difficulties of translating some of Dylan’s American slang.

Sure, it’s all a little strange. But the times, they are a-changing.