Anti-establishment bard Bob Dylan earns recognition of the usually conservative Nobel Committee and is awarded 2016 Nobel Prize for literature
The icon of American pop music is the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.
Surprisingly, his win stirred a lot of controversy in the United States. (Some don’t think he deserves a Nobel Prize and some are actually urging Dylan to reject the honor!)
There are words and there is relevance. Bob Dylan is the voice of a generation whose feelings he identified, expressed and interpreted like few others. He captured the essence of our times. His songs resonate with us not only because of their music, or Dylan’s voice, but the lyrics (some thought-provoking, some re-affirming) that express his – and our! – thoughts.
There is literature and there is the ability to share one’s writing. Literature always had – and especially today, has – limited reach. Bob Dylan “disguised” his writing as pop culture and reached wider audience than most best-selling authors.
Bob Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota. His fascination with music started already in high school, but it wasn’t until college that he started forming bands of his own and performing under the name “Bob Dillon” (he took on the last name of the main character in Gunsmoke). It wasn’t until later that his original stage name evolved into “Bob Dylan”.
Dylan’s first musical love was folk music. Country songs have earned him his first recording deal back in 1961. That’s how it all started, Dylan grew and evolved over time becoming one of the most influential voices in folk rock and eventually the one of a kind original – above and beyond any conventional genre – that we know today.
His music generated in turn praise and contempt of music critics. For the rest of us Blowin’ in the Wind, It’s Alright, Mr Tambourine Man, Love Minus Zero / No Limit, Don’t Think Twice, Like a Rolling Stone, Idiot Wind, It’s a Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall, Jokerman, Tangled Up in Blue and many others became the soundtracks of our lives.
By pairing unpretentious manner with profound wisdom, Bob Dylon became a star. He took on universal truths, social issues, social justice, along with controversial topics of the 60s and 70s and found a way to “interpret” them through his poetry.
If the measure of a poet’s success is influence, Bob Dylon has no competition among poets. One of Bob Dylan’s best known sayings is “What’s so bad about being misunderstood?”. The recognition of Bob Dylan’s poetry by the Nobel Committee suggests that he is not only understood but appreciated, even by the conservative establishment he once sought to fight.
The usually conservative Nobel Committee recognized the merit of Bob Dylan’s intellect, talent and – we suspect – ability to expand the appeal of well-written word beyond that of conventional literature. Anything L.A. Magazine congratulates the Nobel Committee on its thoughtful choice AND Bob Dylan on a well-deserved recognition.
Anything L.A. Magazine’s Entertainment Editor / I. Sturm