Canadian writers celebrate Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize for literature
Oct 14 2016 by Desiree Burns
There are few enough happy surprises in modern life but the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Literature to Bob Dylan represents a popular and worthy choice which recognises an enduring and singular talent who, over the past half century, has changed forever the range and meaning of popular song.
Legendary singer Bob Dylan has been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature making him the first songwriter to be honoured with the award. Dylan is also the first American to win the prize in more than two decades.
She told reporters in Stockholm: "Bob Dylan writes poetry for the ear. They weren't sermons", Dylan said in a rare 2004 interview with the CBS television show "60 Minutes". Rolling Stone once called him "the most secretive and elusive person in the entire rock and roll substructure". With this song, Dylan reflects on his younger years, his travels, wondering about "all the people we used to know/they're an illusion to me now" and a lost lover.
By the early 1980s his music was reflecting the performer's born-again Christianity, although this was tempered in successive albums, with many fans seeing a resurgence of his explosive early-career talent in the 1990s.
In a surprising admission, Dylan reveals he no longer has the same songwriting ability.
"If you examine the songs, I don't believe you're going to find anything in there that says that I'm a spokesman for anybody or anything really", he said. "I did it once, and I can do other things now. But I can't do that".
Bod Dylan just won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
After The Beatles first heard The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan in 1964, they were major fans.
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The PBS NewsHour's Jeffrey Brown talks to Anthony DeCurtis, contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine, about the release of all of Bob Dylan's "Basement Tapes" recordings in 2014. "We still read Homer and Sappho, and we enjoy it". "[Dylan] can be read and should be read".
In the clip above, Bradley asks Dylan how it feels for him to perform his early songs. Hits like Blowin' In The Wind and The Times They Are A-Changin' were adopted as protest anthems, giving voice to the civil rights movement or speaking out against war. "If you were to look at his lyrics, as if they were the sonnets of Byron, which are considered literature, or anyone who has written poetry, do the lyrics as divorced from the ??? stand up? Pop songs, you usually have to act out".
The literary value of Dylan's texts are also supported by "The Norton Introduction to Literature", a textbook used in American high schools and universities, which includes the lyrics to Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man".
His songs can be snarling and accusatory ("Idiot Wind", "Positively 4th Street"); apocalyptic ("Hard Rain"); dense and hallucinatory ("Desolation Row"); tender and wistful ("Visions of Johanna"); bracingly, ripped-from-the-headlines political ("Hurricane" and "Only a Pawn in their Game"); and enigmatic and absurdist ("Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again"). He was only 22 when he performed at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, singing When the Ship Comes In, with Joan Baez, and Only a Pawn in Their Game, a retelling of the murder of the civil rights activist Medgar Evers, before the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr delivered his I Have a Dream speech.