Bob Dylan The Rhymes They Are A-Changin’
Submitted by Don Graham
In 1965, at the height of his appointment as the voice of a generation, Bob Dylan was asked if he thought of himself primarily as a singer or a poet. He replied, “Oh, I think of myself more as a song and dance man, y’know?”
And now 51 years later, he has been given the highest possible accolade in literature, the Nobel Prize.He is the first American to win the prize in more than twenty years . Novelist Toni Morrison last won in 1993.
Dylan was given the award "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition," according to the citation by the Swedish Academy, the committee that annually decides the recipient of the Nobel Prize.
According to the Swedish Academy, "He is a great poet in the English-speaking tradition, and he is a wonderful sampler - a very original sampler. For 54 years now he has been at it and reinventing himself, constantly creating a new identity." Which is so true for although he is revered for his “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ” epics he is also responsible for the more modern “To Make You Feel My Love” and “Wagon Wheel”.
Dylan has won Grammys, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S. Now to add to his honors Dylan has captured the Nobel Prize.
The Nobel Prize in literature has been awarded since 1901 to writers who have produced "the most outstanding work in an ideal direction." In that time, 109 prizes have been distributed to 113 writers. This year, the prize carries with it a purse of approximately $900,000 and, as usual, inclusion on literature's most illustrious list, the pantheon of Nobel winners.
The award caused some controversy, particularly among writers arguing that the literary merits of Dylan’s work are not equal to those of some of his peers.
Referring to the American snack firm, Lebanese novelist Rabih Alameddine tweeted: “Bob Dylan winning a Nobel in Literature is like Mrs Fields being awarded 3 Michelin stars.”
The French Moroccan writer Pierre Assouline was even more upset, describing the decision “contemptuous of writers”.
Other authors were a little less harsh. Karl OveKnausgaard said: “I’m very divided. I love that the novel committee opens up for other kinds of literature – lyrics and so on. I think that’s brilliant. But knowing that Dylan is the same generation as Pynchon, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, makes it very difficult for me to accept it. I think one of those three should have had it, really. But if they get it next year, it will be fine.”
Dylan’s songwriting contemporary and friend, Leonard Cohen said that no prizes were necessary to recognize the greatness of the man who transformed pop music with records like Highway 61 Revisited. “To me,” he said “The Nobel Prize award is like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain.”
And fellow Village folk boom pioneer Eric Andersen said, “Heartfelt congrats to our dearest poet Bob who brandished a big blade of light to cut through the jungles of our darkness. Our bard took the power of the word into the future.”
No one is really sure how Dylan himself feels about the award as he has yet to make a public statement or even respond to the Swedish Academy itself.
According to the Swedish Academy’s permanent secretary Sara Danius, she has not heard from Dylan since making the announcement. “Right now we are doing nothing. I have called and sent emails to his closest collaborator and received very friendly replies. For now, that is certainly enough.”
So Bob “How does it feel ?”
The 75-year-old artist will receive his award in Stockholm on Dec. 10, 2016.