The Times They Are a-Changin’
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan (real name Robert Zimmerman) has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Like him or not, he certainly qualifies to hold the title “voice of a generation.” Even so, many have doubts about the award going to a musician.
The New York Times reports:
Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature
Half a century ago, Bob Dylan shocked the music world by plugging in an electric guitar and alienating folk purists. For decades he continued to confound expectations, selling millions of records with dense, enigmatic songwriting.
Now, Mr. Dylan, the poet laureate of the rock era, has been rewarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature, an honor that elevates him into the company of T. S. Eliot, Gabriel García Márquez, Toni Morrison and Samuel Beckett.
Mr. Dylan, 75, is the first musician to win the award, and his selection on Thursday is perhaps the most radical choice in a history stretching back to 1901. In choosing a popular musician for the literary world’s highest honor, the Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, dramatically redefined the boundaries of literature, setting off a debate about whether song lyrics have the same artistic value as poetry or novels.
Some prominent writers celebrated Mr. Dylan’s literary achievements, including Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates and Salman Rushdie, who called Mr. Dylan “the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition,” adding, “Great choice.”
But others called the academy’s decision misguided and questioned whether songwriting, however brilliant, rises to the level of literature.
The fact that Dylan chose his stage name based on a nod to the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas suggests that he thinks of himself as a poet on some level. Read the lyrics of Subterranean Homesick Blues for further study.
Here’s a video report from CNN:
CBS News has more on the mixed reviews of Dylan for the award:
Writers divided on Bob Dylan’s Nobel honor
News of Bob Dylan’s Nobel honor has had mixed reactions.
U.S. President Barack Obama has offered his congratulations to Bob Dylan for being awarded the Nobel Prize in literature.
Congratulations to one of my favorite poets, Bob Dylan, on a well-deserved Nobel. https://t.co/c9cnANWPCS
— President Obama (@POTUS) October 13, 2016
British singer-songwriter singer Billy Bragg approved of the awarding of the Nobel Prize in literature to Bob Dylan, quoting a line from the song “Mr. Tambourine Man” — “Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free.”
“Yes to dance beneath a diamond sky with one hand waving free…” for this alone Bob Dylan deserves the Nobel Prize https://t.co/62ZXuabPpb
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) October 13, 2016
Not everyone sang Dylan’s praises, however. Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh reacted angrily to the awarding of the Nobel Prize for literature to Bob Dylan, embarking on a series of exchanges on Twitter.
“I’m a Dylan fan, but this is an ill conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies,” the “Trainspotting” author wrote.
I’m a Dylan fan, but this is an ill conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies.
— Irvine Welsh (@IrvineWelsh) October 13, 2016
For anyone who’s interested, I’ll leave you with my personal favorite Dylan tune which seems appropriate for this election, no matter who wins.
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