A few hours after Prince’s flag flew on Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl stage, another elusive Minnesota musician was paid tribute by another grinning Pepsi pitchman. The icon was Bob Dylan, the tribute payer was Jimmy Fallon, and the occasion was political—surprisingly so.
For the post–Big Game Tonight Show, Fallon appeared in Dylan drag—curly wig, indoor sunglasses—at the Orpheum Theatre, a venue Dylan once co-owned. With harmonica and guitar, he launched into a version of “The Times They Are a-Changin’” lyrically updated for 2018. “Come gather round people wherever you roam, and admit that our country don’t feel like our home,” Fallon began. “If a tweet to you is worth favin’, then lift up your voices and put down your phones, for the times, they are a-changin’.”
From there, he unspooled a list of hot topics and liberal takes: #MeToo (“Believe me when I say that we believe you”), athletes’ anthem protests (“Perhaps they’d stand up if you reached out your hand”), and Donald Trump (“Weak is the man who calls truth ‘fake news’”). Nothing Fallon said wasn’t something Democrats haven’t already been screaming on a daily basis—well, except for a random crack about Mel Gibson. Yet he did crystallize one way in which the times may be changing: with regards to his own outspokenness.