For those who endorse awarding Bob Dylan the Nobel Prize in Literature, the question might be: Why did the Swedish Academy wait so long? For those who oppose: A songwriter?
But there is never an expiration date on the acknowledgment of excellence, and Mr. Dylan is much more than a songwriter. One may quarrel that the award delays what appears to be the inevitable recognition by the academy of novelists Haruki Murakami and Philip Roth, among others, or that a composer for musical theater like Stephen Sondheim is the place to begin if songs are considered literature. But no one who knows Mr. Dylan’s work and its impact on his and subsequent generations of authors and composers can dispute its high quality.
To the point of whether the words to songs comprise literature: It is the rare lyric that can stand on its own without the rhythm the music provides. The irony of assessing Mr. Dylan’s words absent the accompaniment is that he changed popular music by discovering and then exploring, repeatedly and often magnificently, new ways to set distinctive narratives to melody and rhythm as in “Mr. Tambourine Man” or “Like a Rolling Stone.” There is no comparable body of work, regardless of standard of measurement, by any other artist of the rock era.
~ Jim Fusilli, excerpt from Yes, Bob Dylan Deserves the Nobel Prize
- Cartoon Source: The New Yorker.
- Blog Title: Bob Dylan’s 1962 hit – Blowin’ in the Wind
- bbc.com: US singer Bob Dylan has been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, becoming the first songwriter to win the prestigious award.