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T Bone Burnett’s one-off high quality Bob Dylan recording sells for nearly £1.5 million

By | Published on Friday 8 July 2022

T Bone Burnett / Ionic Originals

T Bone Burnett has now officially put out the first release on his new high quality analogue audio format Ionic Original – a new recording of Bob Dylan performing his 1962 song ‘Blowin In The Wind’.

I know there are a lot of Dylan completists out there who will be dying to hear this new recording in all its high def glory right now. Well, bad luck, there was only one copy and it’s already been sold I’m afraid, so you’ve officially missed out. Also, it went for nearly £1.5 million, which I’m going to guess is a little out of your budget for a single audio track.

The sole copy of the recording was shifted at London auction house Christie’s yesterday for £1,482,000 – well above the upper end estimated sale price of £1 million.

Burnett announced his new audio format earlier this year, talking up all the innovations in analogue audio he had been busy working on. It was confirmed at the time that Dylan would be the first artist to release music on the new format, although details were a little sparse.

“It is archival quality”, he said of the new format in April. “It is future proof. It is one of one. Not only is an Ionic Original the equivalent of a painting, it is a painting. It is lacquer painted onto an aluminium disc, with a spiral etched into it by music. This painting, however, has the additional quality of containing that music, which can be heard by putting a stylus into the spiral and spinning it”.

Now, when we originally read that, we assumed that Burnett calling this new audio format “one of one” and “the equivalent of a painting” was just a weird way of saying “it’s dead good, like”. But no, we were sitting here reading between the lines when we should have been looking right at them. Because what he said is what he meant. There is only one copy of each release because he sees these things like paintings, ie a one-off artistic creation.

“Marshall McLuhan said that a medium surrounds a previous medium and turns the previous medium into an art form, as film did with novels, as television did with film, as the internet has done with television, and as digital has done with analogue”, he said in a statement following the sale of the Dylan recording.

“With Bob Dylan’s new version of ‘Blowin In The Wind,’ our first Ionic Original archival analogue disc, we have entered and aim to help develop a music space in the fine arts market”, he went on. “I trust and hope it will mean as much to whomever acquired it today at Christie’s Exceptional Sale as it does to all of us who made it, and that they will consider it and care for it as a painting or any other singular work of art”.

Whether or not the buyer has enjoyed, is enjoying, or will enjoy this super high quality, super expensive audio recording is something we do not know, and may never know. Unless, of course, like Wu-Tang Clan’s single-copy album ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’, it has fallen into the hands of a controversial figure who then uses it as part of a plan to try to become a real life comic book villain.