One of the more pleasing items of news today that could be put in the “not so important given what else is going on in the world” category, is that of Bob Dylan winning the Nobel prize for literature.
According a BBC report: “US singer Bob Dylan has been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, becoming the first songwriter to win the prestigious award. The 75-year-old rock legend received the prize “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. The balladeer, artist and actor is the first American to win since novelist Toni Morrison in 1993. President Obama said the honour was “well-deserved. Congratulations to one of my favourite poets,””
It would be tempting to reflect on the type of person Bob Dylan is, the music he played and the appropriateness (of otherwise) of him receiving this prestigious award, but I won’t, for there is much that has been said that people can access. For me, as interesting as his life may be and the connotations around what he wrote, it is his work as a performing artist with a social radical edge that has long impressed me. Dylan was a particular influence on many of my generation besides me and, pertinently, his work impacted me. For I am a child of the sixties, when “Times they are a changing” and the answer my friend is “Blowing in the wind” (two of my favourite songs), the spirit of which Dylan did epitomize, more than the Beatles or the Rolling Stones (imo), as did none other and he was a brilliant musician taboot (and this coming from one with rudimentary musical tastes). Even now I like to listen to some of his songs and I am still moved, many going back for some 50 years.
I must admit, learning that Dylan had won this prize did come as a surprise, but on reflection I thought why not. Besides writing great music, he wrote great literature, with profound insight and, like the King James Bible and Shakespeare’s plays, his words and themes will long continue to resonate. I don’t often agree with President Obama, but regarding the Nobel committee granting this award, I share his sentiments. Well done Bob Dylan – you are a true legend!