Bob Dylan reached the top of the U.S. pop albums chart for the first time in 30 years Wednesday, becoming the oldest living person to launch a new disc at No. 1.
The 65-year-old rock poet’s latest album, “Modern Times,” sold 192,000 copies in the week ended Sept. 3, his best sales week since tracking firm Nielsen SoundScan started using its point-of-sales data to collate the charts in 1991.
Johnny Cash and Ray Charles both had No. 1 albums in recent years, but they were released posthumously.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled that fans have responded to it so enthusiastically by putting Bob at No. 1, which is where he belongs” said Steve Barnett, the chairman of Dylan’s Columbia Records label.
Dylan last reached No. 1 in 1976 with his album “Desire,” which led the field for five weeks. At the time, he was on his Rolling Thunder Revue tour and winning publicity for his protest tune “Hurricane.” His other chart-toppers were the 1975 classic “Blood on the Tracks,” and 1974’s “Planet Waves.”
Internationally, “Modern Times” opened at No. 1 in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, according to Columbia.
In Britain, it debuted at No. 3 with the best one-week sales tally of Dylan’s career, 55,000 units, the label said.
Dylan has been on a creative and commercial roll since 1997, when he released “Time Out of Mind,” a darkly comical look at death. It opened at No. 10, selling 101,600 copies, and went on to win the Grammy Award for album of the year. His 2001 follow-up, “Love and Theft,” opened at No. 5 on sales of 133,760 copies. Each has gone on to sell about 1 million copies in the United States, the label said.
Critics have heaped praise on “Modern Times.” Rolling Stone magazine said his three latest albums “stand alongside the accomplishments of his wild youth.”
Dylan has undertaken some unorthodox efforts to promote the new album. He is currently featured in a TV commercial for Apple Computer Inc.’s popular iPod digital music player, and he enlisted comely actress Scarlett Johansson to star in a short online film.
He has also paid attention to his storied past, writing the first volume of his memoirs in 2004 and authorizing the 2005 documentary “No Direction Home,” which was overseen by director Martin Scorsese.
Dylan has recorded almost exclusively since 1961 for Columbia Records, a unit of Sony Corp.