Nobel Prize in Awesome

This is so cool: Bob Dylan was just awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Wow.

Bob Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota (a freezing cold, very small city on the shores of Lake Superior), and raised in the Iron Range of Minnesota. Only a year of college at the University of Minnesota before he moved to New York City. Singer-songwriter. Nobel Prize in Literature winner for 2016.

I think this is fantastic, energizing, out-of-the-box thinking by the Nobel committee, who picked the perfect recipient if they were going to pick a musician. Dylan is a genius at what he does, and he’s always forged his own path as musician and lyricist. Ironically he’s been a huge influence on other artists, but many times he’s had to drag the befuddled and protesting audience behind him.

Look up what happened when Dylan “went electric”: the “don’t change things on me” folk crowd went ballistic. Or when he made his (great) country-influenced album. The rock crowd groaned. Dylan didn’t care. He just went on making some of the greatest and most influential popular music of the 20th Century.

Now the complainers are fuddy-duddy “serious literature” snobs who somehow have missed one true thing that’s all around them. Popular music is an art form. And over the last six decades it has mattered as much to worldwide culture as traditional literature.

So, yes, I think the Dylan choice is right and deserved. But it’s also a shot across the bow and a wake-up call. Like literature itself can be.

And I bet more people will talk about the Nobel Prize for Literature today than they did in years past, when the winner was the brilliant J.M. Coetzee or the sublime Alice Munro or even the wonderful Gabriel García Márquez.

By all means go read one of those. Or your favorite Nobelist. Or your favorite non-Nobelist: I nominate the great Jorge Luis Borges. Or  even a future Nobel candidate: I like Murakami.

But this is also great.

4 thoughts on “Nobel Prize in Awesome

  1. My hopes are that next year they choose a novelist like Marilynne Robinson for the Nobel prize in physics. (Just kidding. Or maybe not.) I don’t much care about these big prizes since they tend to mostly be given to men and not to the women who often do the work that underlie the success of the men who receive the prizes. I don’t know whether Bob Dylan needs the approval of the Nobel committee, considering how many awards he’s won over the years. I would have liked to have seen an African-American woman or man author win it–or someone who made an unacknowledged contribution to literature (or to the songwriting tradition, if the category of literature has been broadened to include songs). Maybe someone like Gillian Welch or Lucinda Williams or hey, Chuck Berry or Tina Turner?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for letting us know about this. I have always liked Dylan’s music. I was lucky enough to see him play at a concert in Dallas, a very long time ago. This concert also had another legend-Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Needless to say it was a memorable night indeed.

    Congratulations to Bob Dylan! His music stands the test of time.

    Liked by 1 person

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