Singer-songwriter takes award for ‘having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition’
For more than six decades he has remained a mythical force in music – his gravelly voice and poetic lyrics musing over war – heartbreak – betrayal – death and moral faithlessness in songs that brought beauty to life’s greatest tragedies.
But Bob Dylan’s place as one of the world’s greatest artistic figures was elevated further on Thursday when he was named the surprise winner of the Nobel prize in literature ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition’.
After the announcement the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy Sara Danius said it had ‘not been a difficult decision’ and she hoped the academy would not be criticised for its choice.
‘We’re really giving it to Bob Dylan as a great poet – that’s the reason we awarded him the prize.
He’s a great poet in the great English tradition – stretching from Milton and Blake onwards.
And he’s a very interesting traditionalist – in a highly original way.
Not just the written tradition but also the oral one; not just high literature – but also low literature’.
(ed:..and here is a cool quote from obama about bob dylan..)
The president has on numerous occasions listed Dylan’s songs as among his all-time favourites but one particular quote from Obama is an even more striking testament to Dylan’s greatness and singularity.
In 2010 after Dylan performed at the White House for the first time Rolling Stone asked Obama about Dylan’s performance and his stoic ‘sceptical’ demeanour.
Obama raved about the experience but also revealed quite a bit about what it’s like to encounter the real Dylan.
And in fact he’s just like the Dylan you always imagined:
“Here’s what I love about Dylan: He was exactly as you’d expect he would be.
He wouldn’t come to the rehearsal; usually all these guys are practicing before the set in the evening.
He didn’t want to take a picture with me; usually all the talent is dying to take a picture with me and Michelle before the show but he didn’t show up to that.
He came in and played ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’.’
A beautiful rendition.
The guy is so steeped in this stuff that he can just come up with some new arrangement and the song sounds completely different.
Finishes the song – steps off the stage — I’m sitting right in the front row — comes up – shakes my hand – sort of tips his head – gives me just a little grin and then leaves.
And that was it — then he left.
That was our only interaction with him.
And I thought: That’s how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don’t want him to be all cheesin’ and grinnin’ with you. You want him to be a little sceptical about the whole enterprise. So that was a real treat’.