Music Monday honors Bob Dylan ~ The Times They Are A-Changin’

Since 1901, the Swedish Academy has annually awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in memory of donor, Alfred Nobel.

On October 13th, it honored Bob Dylan as its latest recipient. The last time an American received the prize was in 1993 with Toni Morrison.

The Academy cited Dylan’s work as “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

I have mixed feelings about his victory.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Bob Dylan is brilliant. I value his contributions to music, culture, poetry, and I love many of his songs. I would not dare downplay his talent.

No, my thoughts have to do with whether he should be given a prize that has been traditionally awarded to a writer of fiction and non-fiction.

It hardly seems like a level playing field to measure the song lyric against prose.

Prose presents itself naked on a page while the lyric is dressed up with voice or instrumentation or both.

As an author who struggles to create with only words, I know how difficult it is to produce a story, poem, or novel, and I empathize with writers because of this.

Bob Dylan is an incredible songwriter—perhaps the best, but is he a writer of literature? I don’t believe so.

Regardless, I want to honor him and his music over the coming weeks, for the simple reason that his songs remain as relevant today as they were when he first wrote them. That is an amazing feat when you consider they span a career of more than fifty years.

I was surprised to discover that after writing nearly 300 music posts, I’ve blogged Bob Dylan only three times, and just once on his own with “Blowin’ in the Wind” as part of my Harmonica series.

The other two times were in a group with “My Back Pages” and “End of the Line” with the Traveling Wilburys.

In light of the recent American election results, this classic of Dylan’s is once again, prophetic of changing times.

Here we see him performing for President Obama at the White House (Feb. 2010) in celebration of music from the Civil Rights Movement.

Is it me, or do you feel a twinge of irony in this?

Wishing all a peaceful week,

~ eden

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Music Monday honors Bob Dylan ~ The Times They Are A-Changin’

  1. “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dylan is much more than a songwriter. He could assume the position of Poet Laureate if given the title. I don’t disagree with you as far as the difference between a writer and and songwriter. Words have no enhancements to add color and feeling, but Dylan’s words and meanings are much more than lyrics with music. To be honest I don’t listen to him often or care too much for his voice, I have read his creations and can see the deep meaning in many of them. Hugs, darling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dannie, yes, Dylan’s contribution to music and culture, to political commentary and much more cannot be minimized. I’ve seen him in concert at different stages in his career and his voice has definitely changed, but I don’t mind the gravelly texture. As I wrote to another friend, I am only lamenting that in giving the prize to Dylan, a lesser known writer of poetry and prose will have fewer opportunities to share their work.
      As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts, hon. xox
      eden

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It does seem a bit odd, giving it to a songwriter, but the Nobel sometimes goes off in peculiar directions.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. suenador

    I still haven’t recovered from the election (still have that nauseous feeling, probably the result of too many brownies and other comfort food) but it seems we need powerful words and music more than ever right now about civil rights, and oh so much else…xo

    Liked by 1 person

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