Bob Dylan, regarded as the voice of a generation for his influential songs from the 1960s onwards, has won the Nobel Prize for Literature in a surprise decision that made him the only singer-songwriter to win the award.
The 75-year-old Dylan — who won the prize for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition” — now finds himself in the company of Winston Churchill, Thomas Mann and Rudyard Kipling as Nobel laureates.
The announcement was met with gasps in Stockholm’s stately Royal Academy hall, followed — unusually — by some laughter.
Dylan’s songs, such as “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” and “Like a Rolling Stone” captured a spirit of rebellion, dissent and independence.
More than 50 years on, Dylan is still writing songs and is often on tour, performing his dense poetic lyrics, sung in a sometimes rasping voice that has been ridiculed by detractors.
Some lyrics have resonated for decades.
“Blowin’ in the Wind,” written in 1962, was considered one of the most eloquent folk songs of all time. “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” in which Dylan told Americans “your sons and your daughters are beyond your command,” was an anthem of the civil rights movement and Vietnam War protests.
Awarding the 8 million Swedish crown ($930,000) prize, the Swedish Academy said: “Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound.”
Swedish Academy member Per Wastberg said: “He is probably the greatest living poet.”
Asked if he thought Dylan’s Nobel lecture – traditionally given by the laureate in Stockholm later in the year – would be a concert, replied: “Let’s hope so.”
Over the years, not everyone has agreed that Dylan was a poet of the first order. Novelist Norman Mailer countered: “If Dylan’s a poet, I’m a basketball player.”
Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Nobel Academy, told a news conference there was “great unity” in the panel’s decision to give Dylan the prize.
Dylan has always been an enigmatic figure. He went into seclusion for months after a motorcycle crash in 1966, leading to stories that he had cracked under the pressure of his new celebrity.
He was born into a Jewish family but in the late 1970s converted to born-again Christianity and later said he followed no organized religion. At another point in his life, Dylan took up boxing.
Dylan’s spokesman, Elliott Mintz, declined immediate comment when reached by phone, citing the early hour in Los Angeles, where it was 3 a.m. at the time of the announcement. Dylan was due to give a concert in Las Vegas on Thursday evening.
Literature was the last of this year’s Nobel prizes to be awarded. The prize is named after dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel and has been awarded since 1901 for achievements in science, literature and peace in accordance with his will. (by Reuters)
And this was the start of a very unique career that leads to the nobel prize in 2016:
Bob Dylan’s first album is a lot like the debut albums by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones — a sterling effort, outclassing most, if not all, of what came before it in the genre, but similarly eclipsed by the artist’s own subsequent efforts. The difference was that not very many people heard Bob Dylan on its original release (originals on the early-’60s Columbia label are choice collectibles) because it was recorded with a much smaller audience and musical arena in mind. At the time of Bob Dylan’s release, the folk revival was rolling, and interpretation was considered more important than original composition by most of that audience. A significant portion of the record is possessed by the style and spirit of Woody Guthrie, whose influence as a singer and guitarist hovers over “Man of Constant Sorrow” and “Pretty Peggy-O,” as well as the two originals here, the savagely witty “Talkin’ New York” and the poignant “Song to Woody”; and it’s also hard to believe that he wasn’t aware of Jimmie Rodgers and Roy Acuff when he cut “Freight Train Blues.” But on other songs, one can also hear the influences of Bukka White, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson, and Furry Lewis, in the playing and singing, and this is where Dylan departed significantly from most of his contemporaries. Other white folksingers of the era, including his older contemporaries Eric Von Schmidt and Dave Van Ronk, had incorporated blues in their work, but Dylan’s presentation was more in your face, resembling in some respects (albeit in a more self-conscious way) the work of John Hammond, Jr., the son of the man who signed Dylan to Columbia Records and produced this album, who was just starting out in his own career at the time this record was made. There’s a punk-like aggressiveness to the singing and playing here. His raspy-voiced delivery and guitar style were modeled largely on Guthrie’s classic ’40s and early-’50s recordings, but the assertiveness of the bluesmen he admires also comes out, making this one of the most powerful records to come out of the folk revival of which it was a part. Within a year of its release, Dylan, initially in tandem with young folk/protest singers like Peter, Paul & Mary and Phil Ochs, would alter the boundaries of that revival beyond recognition, but this album marked the pinnacle of that earlier phase, before it was overshadowed by this artist’s more ambitious subsequent work. In that regard, the two original songs here serve as the bridge between Dylan’s stylistic roots, as delineated on this album, and the more powerful and daringly original work that followed. One myth surrounding this album should also be dispelled here — his version of “House of the Rising Sun” here is worthwhile, but the version that was the inspiration for the Animals’ recording was the one by Josh White. (by Bruce Eder)
Bob Dylan (guitar, vocals, harmonica)
01. You’re No Good (Fuller) 1.37
02. Talkin’ New York (Dylan) 3.15
03. In My Time Of Dyin’ (Traditional) 2.37
04. Man Of Constant Sorrow (Traditional) 3.06
05. Fixin’ To Die (White) 2.17
06. Pretty Peggy-O (Traditional) 3.22
07. Highway 51 (Jones) 2.49
08. Gospel Plow (Traditional) 1.44
09. Baby, Let Me Follow You Down (v.Schmidt) 2.32
10. House Of The Risin’ Sun (Traditional) 5.15
11. Freight Train Blues (Traditional) 2.16
12. Song To Woody (Dylan) 2.39
13. See That My Grave Is Kept Clean (Jefferson) 2.40