October 20, 2016

Bob Dylan — or at least his website anyway — finally gives some sign that he knows he won the Nobel Prize.

It's not on the front page of his website or even on the "books" page, but if you click all the way to the page about the new book that collects all his lyrics, you see:
If you want to buy that new book, here's an Amazon link.

Here's what the back cover looks like:



See? He's a writer. He knows it.

But I'm doubting whether this really counts as Bob Dylan acknowledging the Nobel Prize at long last, because the text at his website is the same text that appears at Amazon. It looks like commercial copy from the publisher. I mean, the squib is:
Bob Dylan is one of the most important songwriters of our time, responsible for modern classics such as “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” The Lyrics is a comprehensive and definitive collection of Dylan’s most recent writing as well as the early works that are such an essential part of the canon. Well known for changing the lyrics to even his best-loved songs, Dylan has edited dozens of songs for this volume, making The Lyrics a must-read for everyone from fanatics to casual fans.
That's so not Bob Dylan's voice.  And it's perfectly silly to pick out “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”

25 comments:

mccullough said...

Dylan is in the Nobel Prize Recipient Protection Program

Sebastian said...

Silly because of lyrics like this?

"Though you might hear laughing, spinning, swinging madly across the sun
It’s not aimed at anyone
It’s just escaping on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facing
And if you hear vague traces of skipping reels of rhyme
To your tambourine in time
It’s just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn’t pay it any mind
It’s just a shadow you’re seeing that he’s chasing."

Tim Parks in the NYRB uses this to point out the difficulty in understanding literature in a foreign language. Though some people, he says, may have heard these words "a thousand times,"most have "only the vaguest notions of what they might be about." Perhaps with lyrics like this, vague notions are best.

Laslo Spatula said...

Standing on the water, casting your bread
While the eyes of the idol with the iron head are glowing
Distant ships sailing into the mist
You were born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowing
Freedom just around the corner for you
But with truth so far off, what good will it do.

Nobel Prize Winner, dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Nobel Prize Winner

So swiftly the sun sets in the sky
You rise up and say goodbye to no one
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread
Both of their futures, so full of dread, you don't show one
Shedding off one more layer of skin
Keeping one step ahead of the persecutor within.

Nobel Prize Winner, dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Nobel Prize Winner

You're a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds
Manipulator of crowds, you're a dream twister
You're going to Sodom and Gomorrah
But what do you care ? Ain't nobody there would want marry your sister
Friend to the martyr, a friend to the woman of shame
You look into the fiery furnace, see the rich man without any name.

Nobel Prize Winner, dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Nobel Prize Winner

I am Laslo.

GWash said...

knowing bobby the way do (just growing up with him providing the background music) i would imagine him picking some rare song on a bootleg album that hasn't surfaced yet... and before all you 'anybody but dylan' folks start with the negative vibes man, to me, there is no doubting that he is in the top tier of people who had the most to do in regards to changing the culture from pre baby boomer staid, repression to a freer, more open and honest way of living... did i get it right bobby?

Meade said...

The Lyrics a must-read for everyone from fanatics to casual fans.

AA: "But I'm doubting whether this really counts as Bob Dylan acknowledging the Nobel Prize at long last, because the text at his website is the same text that appears at Amazon."

Back when I was more of a fanatic I could've told you the name of the guy who runs Bob's website and who probably wrote that blurb.

Ah but I was so much more filled with excessive and single-minded zeal then. I'm more relaxed and unconcerned than that now.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I'd like to know Mr. Dylan's take on that sort of burbling ad copy.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

My guess is nothing more than a shrug, having his priorities very much in order. I envy that.

Meade said...

Sebastian said...
"Silly because of lyrics like this?"

It's widely known that Dylan — that rascally thief — swiped those lyrics from "Don't Fence Me In." Of course, to write DFMI, Cole Porter himself lifted text straight from Robert (Bob) Fletcher, a poet and engineer with the Department of Highways in Helena, Montana.

GWash said...

to meade 'i was so much older then, i'm younger than that now... '

Meade said...

20th Century Fox did pay Mr. Fletcher $250 before handing the poem to Cole Porter so... WIN all around!

Meade said...

to GWash: Love and theft, baby. Love and theft.

Hazy Dave said...

Silly, but standard promotional stuff, mention the biggest hits. How about "Blowing In The Wind"? My son thought that one was hilarious first time he heard it. Have none of his songs been sampled by any up-to-date relevant hip-hop artists?

Patrick said...

I am not at all steeped in the Bob Dylan collection. But I really like his song Idiot Wind, and the way he sings it. Next to that I like "Like a Rolling Stone," even if it is perfectly silly to pick that out.

Patrick said...


"Back when I was more of a fanatic I could've told you the name of the guy who runs Bob's website and who probably wrote that blurb. "

Back in the day,I could name the guitar techs from some of the prominent players. These days, not quite enough time to spend on that sort of thing. Maybe when I retire! In 20 years! Ugh.

Sydney said...

I might be wrong, but I thought that website was owned by Sony Music Entertainment. At least the little copyright logo at the bottom says that.

Ann Althouse said...

I think it's silly to pick those 3 songs, especially “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”

The other 2 are too much from the same time period, with the top-40 radio success.

If you want to highlight what is literary, you should pick some other things and from different periods.

"Tangled Up in Blue" and "Desolation Row" — I'd pick.

dustbunny said...

It seems that people are still going through detritus looking for signs, hidden meanings and omens from Bob.

Ann Althouse said...

“The Times They Are a-Changin’" is actually a cool song, and I enjoyed it when it came up in my shuffled playlist the other day.

But I hate the way it's always used by people who don't seem to know Dylan to refer to Dylan, like in news reports. I think some people like the catchphrase that is the title.

My favorite Bob is not Bob at his most political, and political people in particular embrace that song.

That said, when I heard it the other day, it resonated with something I have felt and said on this blog, which is to reach out to people who are mired in some obsolescent way of thinking and invite them out of their predicament and into a more positive way of adjusting to the changes that are arriving. (I'm referring to things I've said in the past few years about ssm to people who virulently reject it.)

FullMoon said...

Went to website. There is no way Dylan has anything to do with that site. Frankly embarrassing.



Sebastian said...

""Tangled Up in Blue" and "Desolation Row" — I'd pick."

I'm not trying to pick a fight (really!), but -- I just read Andrew Ferguson on Dylan in The Weekly Standard. He quotes "Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood" etc. Then says, "There are 10 more stanzas of this, 11 minutes' worth of proper names and random actions tossed together by free association . . . It's gibberish." Quotable quote: "Dylan had excellent timing. He came of age just as intelligibility vanished as a criterion for successful poetry."

Michael said...

Dylan should either accept the award or refuse it. Coy is not cool.

Andrew said...

The Byrds' electric version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" was the first Dylan song to reach #1 in 1965, it was released in April. The Byrds with Dylan perform live the electric version that spring, in July Dylan goes electric at Newport Folk Festival, Pete Seeger shits himself. The rest is history.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky
With one hand waving free

I use to sing it to the boys when they were babies.

I never sang Heinrich Boll to them.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The bobdylan.com website has a Twitter account attached to it, which has a tweet a acknowledging the Nobel prize and a retweet of congratulations from President Obama. There is a similar acknowledgement on the Facebook page associated with bobdylan.com. These are both dated October 13.

dustbunny said...

According to the Guardian, the acknowledgment on his website has been removed. What does it mean? What is he telling us??