This past week Bob Dylan, formally known as Robert Allen Zimmerman, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was born in Duluth, Minnesota in the summer of 1941. He had music in his blood from the time he was born. He listened to all kinds of music on the radio, and by the time he was in high school he was obsessed with rock’n’roll. He would form countless bands by the time he turned 20. All this hard work paid off. His obsession with rock’n’roll music gave way to his type of music. In 1985 he was quoted saying, “The thing about rock’n’roll is that for me anyway it wasn’t enough… There were great catch-phrases and driving pulse rhythms… but the songs weren’t serious or didn’t reflect life in a realistic way.”
He is the first musician to ever win this sought after award (nobelprize.org). He has influenced generation after generation, kept peace and love in the time of war, entranced people with his lyrics, and made one remember the beauty a harmonica can produce. He, without a doubt, is deserving of this. There has been only a few musicians with his influence and prowess. He stands above the crowd with the likes of music greats such as Marley and Hendrix. But will stand alone at the podium, accepting this prize.
The Nobel Prize is in many different areas of life. These different areas came from the ideas of Alfred Nobel in his will. He wanted people to be recognized for the amazing things they did in life, and so became the Nobel Prize. The Prize can be in subjects from chemistry and physics to peace and literature. The Nobel Prize for Literature was brought because Alfred Nobel had traveled to many cultures in his life. And while he was still young he developed interest in the literary world. He began to read and write, which lasted throughout his life. His library consisted of a diverse selection of literature in different languages. During the last years of his life, he tried his hand as an author and began writing fiction (nobelprize.org). Literature was the fourth prize area Nobel mentioned in his will.
Now, The Nobel Prize in Literature is an award given annually to an author from any country who has, in the words of the will of Alfred Nobel, produced “in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”. This meaning of work means the author’s entire life works. Their most noteworthy works and even their less (nytimes.com). This became a shock this October, when it was awarded, but not to an author. Instead, to a musician. Or what most people know as a musician. But when asked why the committee chose Bob Dylan they said that their motive was “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition” (nobelprize.org). He won for inventing ways to make songs do what they hadn’t done before said Rolling Stone. Dylan was not merely a musician, he was a voice, a sign of peace, a poet, and an incredible lyricist.
He did what music had never done before. Gave people, an entire generation a voice. Something to look forward to when they turn that radio on. “Then there’s the ’60s. Dylan’s work is indelibly linked to that time, in part because so much of his greatest work came out of ’64, ’65, ’66”. Said Sean Wilentz of Princeton University. It won’t be about death or violence or war, but instead about the dismissal of war and the peace people should live for. He wrote with eloquence and class, but made the images of his writing pop in the listeners’ minds. The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to him for creating “new poetic expressions”. That is precisely what he did, brought poetry and music together to create something fantastic.
Dylan creates emotion in music through his words and continues to do it. There has never been and most-likely never will be anything like Dylan. He created thousands and thousands of songs, something no other musician can fathom. There is a new commercial on T.V. for the company IBM. Dylan is featured in this when he asks the device that speaks back to you, “do you know as many words as I do?” Clever joke by IBM. He creates countless songs which give us a feeling of peace inside for their seriousness and yet their ability to give you hope in every aspect of life. He is a man the world has not seen many of. Even past music he is a published author, of a book that did not sell well, but published all the same. He is now pursuing art. A beautiful painter underneath the magnificent songwriter.
With his ability to write, his extensive vocabulary, and diverse cultural views Dylan was able to be a poet while still making music. If he was never a musician, there is no doubt he would have been a writer of fiction at some point.
Dylan recently came out to the press saying how grateful he was for such a prize. But he did not come out to press right away. Dylan, being the recluse that he loves to be, waited a full week. Then when asked if he would be there to receive the prize in person, he said “Absolutely…If It’s at all possible”. As if something in his life could be much more important than receiving the award no other musician in history has received. This is typical Dylan, knowing not how greatly he has effected the world with his words.
So, Mr. Dylan, we thank you. Every one of us. For the beauty you have produced. The love and hope you have given us. The peace you brought to people in a time of death, and war. For the amount of music you have left us. For the jokes we make about your vocabulary. For the songs that still radiate in our heads like the winds of a “Hurricane”. A huge congratulations to the greatest songwriter, poet, and lyrical master. Wilentz said, “He’s the most important songwriter of the last 50 years, in a culture in which songwriting has always been a major force, a major component”. You deserve every bit of recognition for the peace you have brought an entire culture and the rhythm you have blessed ears with. The Nobel Prize in Literature is in its rightful hands.