I'm not so sure all songs should go up on the commercial block. I remember playing Sly and the Family Stone to a friend unfamiliar with the group. Upon hearing "Everyday People" he laughed and said "Is that the song from the Toyota commercials?" Ever since then I've felt there was something tawdry about first experiencing a great song through a dumb commercial.
"it's a way of finding out if songs that carry people with them, songs that seem tied to a particular time and place, can survive a radical recontextualization, or if that recontextualization dissolves them."
In '95, Dylan was smack in the hey-day of his Never Ending Tour where, without the benefit of any new material (that would have to wait until '97 with Time Out Of Mind) he turned his old catalog inside out with interesting musicianship and gave some of his best shows since he toured with The Band. Sony's (never ending?) Bootleg Series would do well to mine those special live performances in future releases as they have largely raided the studio vaults by now.
Coopers & Lybrand just helped him prove his point: he was only ever a song-and-dance man. As always, the audience did the heavy lifting.
Great writing! 1995 was one of the most depressing years of my life and I'm glad I didn't see or hear that NBC wrap up.