October 13, 2016

"Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize in Literature."

Whoa!

I am stunned. It's taking some moments for the news to sink in.

My first reaction was: I'd heard this idea floated for a long time, but I didn't take it too seriously. And I'm the kind of deep devotee of Dylan that when I write "take it too seriously," I hear a Dylan song and stop to think what it is. Isn't that a Dylan line? No, I'm thinking "You shouldn’t take it so personal...." — which is "One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)." "Seriously" only appears in one Dylan song — if I can trust the search function on his website — and that's here....
Now, little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously
He brags of his misery, he likes to live dangerously
And when bringing her name up
He speaks of a farewell kiss to me
He’s sure got a lotta gall to be so useless and all
Muttering small talk at the wall while I’m in the hall
How can I explain?
Oh, it’s so hard to get on
And these visions of Johanna, they kept me up past the dawn
"Visions of Johanna." Sorry if I'm muttering small talk at the... web... while I'm just out of bed...

Oh! I am simply delighted. No one I don't actually know has made such an impression on me in my life, and it was done with words... words and music... but it's the literature prize, so I'm going to stick to the words here, even though the last thing I read before I went to sleep last night was David Remnick's New Yorker article "Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker/At eighty-two, the troubadour has another album coming. Like him, it is obsessed with mortality, God-infused, and funny." And that contains some long quotes from Bob Dylan, who had a lot to say about Cohen. But it wasn't mostly about the words, but the music:
“His gift or genius is in his connection to the music of the spheres,” Dylan went on. “In the song ‘Sisters of Mercy,’ for instance, the verses are four elemental lines which change and move at predictable intervals . . . but the tune is anything but predictable. The song just comes in and states a fact. And after that anything can happen and it does, and Leonard allows it to happen. His tone is far from condescending or mocking. He is a tough-minded lover who doesn’t recognize the brush-off. Leonard’s always above it all. ‘Sisters of Mercy’ is verse after verse of four distinctive lines, in perfect meter, with no chorus, quivering with drama. The first line begins in a minor key. The second line goes from minor to major and steps up, and changes melody and variation. The third line steps up even higher than that to a different degree, and then the fourth line comes back to the beginning. This is a deceptively unusual musical theme, with or without lyrics. But it’s so subtle a listener doesn’t realize he’s been taken on a musical journey and dropped off somewhere, with or without lyrics.”
But let's talk about lyrics, Bob Dylan's lyrics — a singer's lyrics have won the Nobel Prize. I don't think that's happened before. We expect poetry — to be taken so seriously — to stand disengaged from music. But wasn't early poetry sung? Dylan's words, because they were sung, became imprinted on minds. I cannot exaggerate the impression these words made on me when I began listening to the songs half a century ago. Utterly entranced by The Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man," I took a chance and bought an album from the "folk" section of the record store: "Bringing It All Back Home." That was Bob's current album at the time The Byrds' single came out, and "Mr. Tambourine Man" was on that album. It was also just before the release of "Highway 61 Revisited," so a summer of bonding to "Bringing It All Back Home" ended with access to the new album. I played those 2 albums continually in 1965, when I was 14. I went back into the old albums, "Another Side Of Bob Dylan" and "The Freewheelin Bob Dylan."

Unlike many of the recordings of the day, Bob Dylan enunciated his words clearly. He was saying unusual things, but you knew what the words were — nothing garbled Louie-Louiesquely — so you got those words lodged in your head, where they would come to mind often, and swirl into your self-generated thoughts, even when you didn't know exactly what he was talking about, there was meaning, meaning to contemplate for the rest of your life.

You could read and try to memorize poems or hear a poet recite his verses — Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg — but because this was music, those words got very deeply rooted. All my life, ever since I was 14, Bob Dylan lyrics have been interlaced with my own thoughts. I can't imagine who I would be without Bob Dylan. I can't begin to unravel my mind back to the point when it didn't contain threads of Bob Dylan. I can't pull out any particular idea of mine that I got from Bob Dylan. I'm not the get-out-of-the-doorway-if-you-can't-lend-a-hand type of Bob Dylan fan, stuck on the political propaganda era, his younger, older days.
Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now....

97 comments:

Jose_K said...

I guess the candidature came from Wisconsin

Coconuss Network said...

Delightful from the Nobel Prize Academy. Also, very interesting diversion from standard practice. Congrats to Bob Dylan.

JAORE said...

Well, Obama won the Peace Prize, so.........

Tregonsee said...

I thought at first this was something from the Onion. Sadly no. It just continues to trivialization of the Nobel Prizes in general. At least for a change it is not overtly political.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Bob Dylan is the Bucky Badger of letters.

Michael McClain said...

Scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Fabi said...

The Jewish John Denver.

buwaya puti said...

There have been worse picks. Just a fact, that.

Jim said...

Minute I read this news on Drudge I thought, "I wonder if Althouse knows?"

Amexpat said...

Just saw this. Wow. He deserves it. One can always argue about quality (I'd argue the affirmative) but in terms of impact Dylan is above any other living wordsmith.

rehajm said...

Did he also write something literary?

Douggie Tremain said...

Bob Dylan is even better than Olivia Newton-John.. Happy Birthday U.S.N.

MadisonMan said...

The Nobel Committee is just trying to get a free concert ;)

It's an interesting choice, congrats to Dylan. I've never really liked his music, so I've not paid attention to the lyrics. But I've never read the other Nobel Literature Laureates' works either, so same old same old as far as that goes.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

No one I don't actually know has made such an impression on me in my life, and it was done with words...

I feel that way about Laslo. Maybe someday he'll get a Nobel...

Meade said...

"The Nobel Committee is just trying to get a free concert ;)"

It worked for the pope. Not this pope, the other pope, knocking on heaven's door.

Amadeus 48 said...

On the other hand, they gave it to Pearl Buck and John Galsworthy. But I am glad that you are so happy.

buwaya puti said...

I cannot recommend Saramago, if you want to go Nobel-reading.
Granted, I am barely functional in Portuguese.
A lot of these people remain obscure, at least outside their language-market.

Meade said...

Pope John Paul (George and Ringo).

PB said...

An award on the merits, but it opens the door to giving it to high-profile, politically active musicians merely out of ideology.

jaydub said...

"An award on the merits, but it opens the door to giving it to high-profile, politically active musicians merely out of ideology."

You mean just like the Peace Prize? Except for the merit part?

Bay Area Guy said...

Awaiting Bruce Springsteen's Nobel Prize any day now......

buwaya puti said...

Two who deserve it less -
Doris Lessing
Toni Morrison

And re Morrison,
Its not really her fault, but no-one has done more to wreck the market for literature and destroy the habit of reading, through the obsessive pushing of her works.

SgtPete said...

I went to Vietnam in 1972, my music then was Dylan and still is. I love his music and this man. He saved me more than once and every time I listen I get a different meaning. Only God knows why he blessed him so. Love you Bob, thanks for it all. Sgt Pete

rehajm said...

Will Tom Petty be translating again at the ceremony?

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks to Meade, SgtPete, and everyone else who knows what this means.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...a singer's lyrics have won the Nobel Prize. I don't think that's happened before. We expect poetry — to be taken so seriously — to stand disengaged from music.

I have great respect for Dylan as a songwriter. However, in my opinion, his singing stands entirely disengaged from music.

Laslo Spatula said...

The Guy in the White Van with No Windows in the Back has previously put this in perspective.

For me the real 'Bob Dylan' is Neil Diamond...

I am Laslo.

MayBee said...

I know he means a lot to you, Althouse. So I'm happy for you for this.

rhhardin said...

I was hoping for John Dryden.

Lyle Sanford, RMT said...

what wonderful news and what a wonderful post - your Dylan references have always been a favorite part of the blog - got to him later than you age-wise (college freshman and John Wesley Hardin) - been trying to make up for it singing his tunes ever since, and there's no end to how deep you can go

and wishing you a happy AltExit from the professoriate!

Clyde said...

I watched a Bob Dylan documentary recently titled "Bob Dylan: In and Out of the Folk Movement, 1961-65. That first album that you got, Bringing It All Back Home, was the one he wrote as he made his exit from that movement, scandalizing the folkies by moving from acoustic to electric. The three albums before that were very different stylistically, and far more political. One commenter in the documentary noted that the Kennedy assassination may have affected Dylan's thinking; if "they" could assassinate the president of the United States, what might happen to a folk singer who had tweaked the establishment, when he was stepping out into a back alley after a show? And so you got songs like "Maggie's Farm" and "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" that essentially kissed off the political folk movement. The Newport Folk Festival appearance by Dylan on July 25, 1965, was the big break with them.

FullMoon said...

Yep, almost any word will remind me of a Dylan line, sometimes.

Visions of Johanna: ."ghost of 'lectricity howls through the bones of her face"

"

FullMoon said...

Dylan: Folk, rock, country, pop, even Christian. Has he done hip hop?

John said...

"If Henry Kissinger can win the Peace Prize, I wouldn't be surprised to wake up one day to find out I won the Preakness"

Robert deniro in wag the dog

Ann Althouse said...

"I watched a Bob Dylan documentary recently titled "Bob Dylan: In and Out of the Folk Movement, 1961-65. That first album that you got, Bringing It All Back Home, was the one he wrote as he made his exit from that movement, scandalizing the folkies by moving from acoustic to electric. The three albums before that were very different stylistically, and far more political...."

Not "Another Side."

Gusty Winds said...

Bill Nye the Science Guy is probably in the running for next year's Nobel Prize in Physics.





Sharkcutie said...

When I heard that Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize, I said to myself: What will Althouse have to say about this?

Henry said...

And the Nobel Price in Medicine goes to Dr. Feelgood.

Amexpat said...

But let's talk about lyrics, Bob Dylan's lyrics .... because they were sung, became imprinted on minds.

Dylan's lyrics started to have a major impact on me around the age of 17, in 1974. I was always curious why and wanted to know who else Dylan had made an impact on and their reasons. I came to this blog in 2004, via a link at expectingrain.com and over the years have gotten some good insights from Althouse, present post included.

I also feel that I can judge a Dylan fan by their favorite songs. If someone said "Blowing in the Wind", I'd avoid them. If songs were named from the "Basement Tapes", I'd like to party with them. If a woman combined "Winterlude" & "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat", that would make a very positive first impression.

Henry said...

Actually, I'm fine with Bob Dylan winning the literature prize. I'm not sure who votes or on what criteria, but it is a good thing to see it move away from the weighty doorstop style of writing.

Drago said...

MadisonMan: "The Nobel Committee is just trying to get a free concert ;)"

The most effective way to get a free concert is to invite some Islamic "moderates" into your country, have the majority of citizens continue in their evil western ways, experience the inevitable "sudden Jihad syndrome" (which has nothing whatsoever to do with islam, obviously), have John Kerry pop over to tell you that what just happened is not that big of a deal and have him drag along some aging former star.

Voila!

Clyde said...

And I realize that we are talking about a prize for literature rather than music, but it's hard to overstate how much influence that album Bringing It All Back Home had on rock music. There was before, and there was after, and it's not a coincidence that all kinds of interesting things started happening in rock music just after the album was released in March of 1965.

GRW3 said...

This is a good thing. You don't listen to Dylan for the voice, you listen for the words. So much of the American story is told in song it'd good it is finally recognized.

Fritz said...

He threw a lot of stuff on the walls. Some of it stuck.

Douggie Tremain said...

I don't mind showing my displeasure with the choosing of Yoshinori Ohsumi over Dr.Phil in medicine..Perhaps next year. :(

Unknown said...

Neil Diamond deserves more respect than he gets. Maybe that's because after the "Beautiful Noise" album, he stopped trying and has released year after year of dreck since then, but from his debut through that album is a really interesting body of work. Remember he was at "Last Waltz" with Dylan.

I saw Dylan probably 15 years ago by which point it was no longer possible to argue that he could sing, but he rocked *much* harder than I expected. He's supposed to come through next month. I was going to buy a ticket -- we'll see if the Nobel makes it too late to do that

jaynie said...

I, also, thought of Ann Althouse when I read that Dylan had won that prestigious award. I recall when she used to write about driving in her car to listen to Dylan's satellite radio show.

William said...

I've heard of him. Most of the time the winner is some writer I never heard of. Good for him. I wonder if he'll deliver a song as part of his acceptance speech. Will he wear a tux?......I used to listen to him obsessively in the sixties, but not so much in recent years. The lyrics stick in your mind even if you can't define their exact meaning. Some of Leonard Cohen's lyrics are more poetic but his melodies don't have the drama and sweep of Dylan's stuff......Most people can quote more Bob Dylan lines than Dylan Thomas lines. His version of poetry has won out, and the Nobel committee has acknowledged defeat.

cathy said...

It's nice how they allude to his influence on the American song tradition. That is a real value. Then there was the time he was honored and couldn't run off to the Black hills of Dakota fast enough. But I think he's changed.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

What should we think about "within the great American song tradition". Is that a dig or a praise toward America? Toward Dylan?

Jeff Gee said...

I also feel that I can judge a Dylan fan by their favorite songs. If someone said "Blowing in the Wind", I'd avoid them. If songs were named from the "Basement Tapes", I'd like to party with them. If a woman combined "Winterlude" & "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat", that would make a very positive first impression.

Yup. I like to think he wrote all those shitty protest songs to get laid. "Million Dollar Bash" is worth 50 "Blowin' in the Wind"s. Dylan channeling Maynard G. Krebs in "If Dogs Run Free" justifies the Nobel Prize all by itself.

Rex said...

I am constantly amazed that people can listen to rock and roll songs and understand the words. And if I read the words, I have no clue as to the meaning--it's basically poetry, which is like a foreign language to me.

Country, on the other hand, I can understand, even if I've never experienced most of what is sung about.

Guess that's why I prefer classical music.

Meade said...

Little known fact that might even be true: Bob was the earliest adopter of the World Wide Web. bobdylan.com.

Peggy Coffey said...

I'm sorry but I know nothing about Bob Dylan, except that someone once told him to sing his own songs. That was a mistake. He has a horrible voice, both speaking and singing. His genius must be in the writing of the words.

Titus said...

I haven't listened to Bob Dylan much. I hear ya that the lyrics were important to you, but I didn't like his voice.

I think the only video I saw of Dylan was on MTV where he is holding up a bunch of signs and flipping them...not sure the song...but I did like that he was able to flip the signs very fast.

Laslo Spatula said...

From 'The Community of Color Gazette':

"Local Man of Color Listens To Bob Dylan at Bar"

Edison Banks, a local man of our Community of Color, occasionally plays Bob Dylan at his bar's jukebox.

"Yeah, that's right," Mr. Banks said. "Don't get me wrong -- Earth, Wind and Fire are my jam -- but sometimes I like to listen to that white dude."

Lynda Johnson, bartender at the Leroy Trey Bar, confirmed Mr. Banks' story.

"We'll be listening to Weezy or Snoop Dogg or maybe some old funk from the day, then this nasal-ass white-boy voice will come on. Everyone be like 'What the F***?'"

Eddie Ford, a patron of the bar, agreed.

"You'll be all gettin' in the groove, then there's this hillbilly s**t about Desperation Row or whatever the hell it is. That white boy was messed up, I tell you that. Put down the chronic."

Rhonda Fulton, another patron of the bar, added to the sentiment.

"I mean, does that white boy even mean to sound that way? I don't get it. White people, you know?"

Mr. Banks nodded when told of many of his fellow patrons' opinion of his Bob Dylan song selections.

"They don't know s**t. Dylan, he can twist those words up better than a lot of today's rappers can. "Muttering small talk at the wall while I’m in the hall" -- that's real s**t, that."

Bob Floyd, a patron of the bar, stood up for one of Mr. Banks' selections.

"That "Everybody Must Get Stoned" song -- I kinda dig on that. That speaks to a brother, you feel me?"

Rhonda Fulton agreed with Mr. Floyd's statement.

"I sorta like that one. I mean, the beat's kinda f***ed up, but I can get down with getting stoned, even if it's a white boy sayin' it."

When asked if there were other white artists he liked, Mr. Banks was firm in his reply.

"None of your f**cking business."

So there it is: a Story of Change in our Community of Color. For more stories like this please read 'The Community of Color Gazette'.


I am Laslo.

Big Mike said...

When I saw this post I was certain that the honorable Professor had fallen for a hoax, and the fact that she was linking to the New York Times made it more likely than less. However I see that Drudge has the story too, so probably it's true.

uffda said...

I bet you chortled writing "louie-louiesqely" as much as I did reading it. Thanks for that.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Why not? Who else in his generation? It's a fairly barren place, literature-wise.

John Taylor said...

I'll go with it... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLV4_xaYynY&sns=tw

sunsong said...

Big congrats to Mr. Dylan!

buwaya puti said...

I agree about barren, but there are still some due the prize.
Tom Wolfe is long long past due.

Sebastian said...

"You don't listen to Dylan for the voice, you listen for the words." Now that's funny. But why put yourself through the agony of listening, and wouldn't it be faster just to read?

But I'm happy our hostess is happy, and I'm happy they didn't pick another Grass/Fo/Saramago/Jelinek/PInter type. My favorites among the recent winners are Vargas Llosa and Heaney. Sorry, Bob.

Darrell said...

Fulfilling the prophecy that Donald Trump would become President after Bob Dylan gets a Nobel Prize.

Jonathan Silber said...

Lyrics, however good, are by definition not literature, no? Dylan is a songwriter and a lyricist, not an author--and not a poet, though some of his lyrics are poetic. But I'm a big fan.

surfed said...

Mr Tambourine Man - the first "adult" surfing song. This stanza was apparently penned while watching surfers at Malibu... or so the related story goes. We cherished these verses and knew them by heart.
"Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky
With one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea
Circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate
Driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow"

buwaya puti said...

Lyrics are poetry.
So that is legit.
Much of Kiplings and Garcia Lorcas stuff was meant to be set to music, or was intended for a particular tune.
Thats another who deserved it and didnt get it, Garcia Lorca.

MadisonMan said...

I think the only video I saw of Dylan was on MTV where he is holding up a bunch of signs and flipping them...not sure the song...but I did like that he was able to flip the signs very fast.

That's INXS isn't it? (Link

Laslo Spatula said...

MadisonMan said...
I think the only video I saw of Dylan was on MTV where he is holding up a bunch of signs and flipping them...not sure the song...but I did like that he was able to flip the signs very fast.

That's INXS isn't it? (Link



Dylan: Subterranean Homesick Blues


I am Laslo.

Roger Sweeny said...

I have a memory (which may be true) of in eighth grade (which would be 1962-63) reading an article in the New York Times Magazine arguing that Dylan was America's greatest living poet. I also remember my eigthth grade English teacher not taking the idea seriously.

dustbunny said...

Some really lame comments here. This is wonderful news, I'm so happy his genius has been recognized in such a fashion, Yes, yes, yes!!

Pragmatist said...

When I first read it this morning I thought it was an Onion headline. Did not believe that the committee was that cool. Boss bought me tickets to his concert in Portland a couple years ago (I have a great boss, also got me Springsteen tickets) and it was great. Songwriters are the poets of our age and good to see that get some recognition. Will be interesting to see if he attends and what he will say.

David said...

Kind of cool to see Bob get an award, but it doesn't really matter.

Where do you even begin if you are introducing Uncle Bob to a novice? There are at least a dozen of his albums that are essential for me.

I'll start with Side 4 of "Before the Flood"

mccullough said...

I love Dylan, but gimme a break. As long as the Swedes are finally choosing another American John Ashbery or Cormac McCarthy or Don Delillo or Thomas Pynchon or even Philip Roth have much stronger work than Dylan.

walter said...

So the Nobel crew has gone back to rewarding actual accomplishments? Cool. Mighty Noble of them.
But this might piss off Lamar..who might gonna set this straight.

walter said...

(also imagine Kanye is checking whether there's a ceremony to crash)

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

God bless him!

My personal favorite is "Visions of Johanna," along with a hundred others.

JWH said...

"Knockin' On Heaven's Door"

Mama, take this badge off of me
I can't use it anymore.
It's gettin' dark, too dark to see
I feel I'm knockin' on heaven's door.

Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door

Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can't shoot them anymore.
That long black cloud is comin' down
I feel I'm knockin' on heaven's door.

Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door

Howard said...

This is a great choice. People lament poetry is dead don't properly listen to music. Hopefully this will not be the first and only songwriter to receive this award. I'd have to say that the cautionary tale of hubris in Like a Rolling Stone is the most influential Dylan song for me likely because it plays like a traditional rock and roll song, so I actually bothered to learn the words.

wildswan said...

3 notes on Bob Dylan

In different situations lines of Dylan's come back to me and then I see what I am really thinking.
Like right now
"They're selling post cards of the hanging/ They're painting the passports brown/The beauty parlor's filled with sailors/The circus is in town."

In all literary traditions in the beginning words and music went together.

Dylan and Joan Baez were supposed to inherit the mantle of Pete Seeger and continue to promote communism through their music which was folk - you know - the people. But Dylan got what was good in that and then passed through it and declared his independence at the Newport folk festival by doing electric rock. The Seeger section knew this would happen and organized booing which you can hear in the old videos. He also left Joan Baez though he did not even pretend to forget her. Then the Seeger section which had a particular view of music and its use tried to crush Dylan's career in music but weren't able to do it. And Bob Dylan's gone on expressing different moods in this changing country instead of being locked into one aspect of the times. So I can see a Nobel prize but I just wonder if it was for his whole career or only for the early part. I look forward to his acceptance speech.

Titus said...

Laslo, I probably saw the INXS video on MTV-I loved them by the way; thanks for reminding me. The lead singer killed himself-sad. I was hot for the drummer when I was like 10.

But I did see the Dylan video with the flipping of the cards. I still don't get his voice. I couldn't imagine listening to entire album or concert of that voice.

But, I am totally into Bon Iver right now! A Wisconsin singer songwriter making it big.

From Eau Claire-wrote his first album in Dunn County, Wisconsin.

Love Bon Iver! Don't mean to rain on Dylan's parade though

tcrosse said...

Many years ago, in the Rathskellar. A couple gets into a loud argument. She stalks out in a huff, but on the way plugs a bunch of coins in the juke box and keys in 'Like a Rolling Stone' multiple times. So that afternoon the rest of us got to listen to it over and over and over and over. That pretty much sums up the era. Or that's how it feeyuls.

BN said...

"I am stunned."

Just wait till Kanye jumps the stage at the big ceremony and re-awards it to Beyonce.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

From Wikipedia (which goes into several past controversies about who won and who didn't:

The 2016 choice of Bob Dylan was unconventional because it was the first time a musician and song-writer won the Nobel for Literature. While most commentators applauded the choice, it was not without critics. Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh said "I'm a Dylan fan, but this is an ill conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies."[64]

But then as one commenter up-thread says: who else from his generation?

BN said...

"...i'm younger than that now."

Will we Boomers never grow up?

BN said...

"who else from this generation?"

Trump's "Art of the Spiel." Obviously.

Luke Lea said...

It is the American Song Tradition's influence on Dylan that is remarkable, not the other way around. He knew hundreds if not thousands.

Mac McConnell said...

Newport Folk Festival were Dylan started a revolution and Seeger shit his pants.

Robert Blair said...

Althouse:

I forgive you right now for your many sins!

Yes, one CAN judge people by their reaction to Dylan, as a lot of the comments here demonstrate.

I just want to address one of the most common ideas about Dylan: "His lyrics are great, but he can't sing, his singing is horrible/bad/flat/nasally etc".

Well, I tried this experiment:

- Listen to a cover of a Dylan song, by professionals (ie, famous recording artists like The Rolling Stones or The White Stripes). Studio version, ie how they wanted it to sound.

- Listen to the same song by Dylan. Also studio version.

- Note the differences, repeat.

Eventually, in most cases, you will see WHY Dylan sand it the way he did, and see that he was completely right, and there is likely not a better way to sing it.

A very few people stand out as having done at least as good a job as Dylan:

- Flamin' Groovies - Absolutely Sweet Marie
- Joan Osborne - Man in the Long Black Coat
- White Stripes - One More Cup Of Coffee

Mac McConnell said...

What about Neil Young? There once were professors that taught he was America's greatest living poet. Maybe next year.
I can't sing like Dylan, but I can sing like Young with clothespins on my testes. ;-)

rcocean said...

Glad to hear it. Now, will people stop taking the Nobel Prize for Literature seriously?

They stopped caring about actual merit years ago, and have been awarding prizes based on skin color, left-wing politics, and ethnicity.

Now, they've shown they don't even care about Literature itself.

I look forward to Mel Brooks and Tennessee Coats winning the Nobel Prize next.

Bad Lieutenant said...

mccullough said...
I love Dylan, but gimme a break. As long as the Swedes are finally choosing another American John Ashbery or Cormac McCarthy or Don Delillo or Thomas Pynchon or even Philip Roth have much stronger work than Dylan.
10/13/16, 9:28 AM

That's it, it was probably a poke at Americans. Haha we're going to give it to an American this year, they finally paid. Who? That guy who does the Batman comics? Even better, Bob Dylan.

Kind of something like what Ellsworth Toohey was doing with art in The Fountainhead. As the immortal Iowahawk wrote of the Left's process in institutions: kill it, gut it, skin it, wear it as a skin suit while demanding respect.


As for Dylan vs covers, two words: Jimi Hendrix. Proudly Phillistine, I have listened to very little Bob Dylan, and remember less. Let's see: the pump don't work cause the vandals took the handle, valuable insight there.

Oh, and everybody must get stoned, yeah, that one, and probably one or two others if I try...but probably every time I was listening to the radio and I heard something terrible and I said who the hell is that, it would have been Bob Dylan. I feel mockery but I won't indulge it.

I will proclaim the insight, which is probably not original, that Ann is such a big fan of this guy, that she probably created her whole scatterbrained / bleach blonde (Dipsy, Ha!) to be more like her hero. Should he be her hero? Shouldn't she have heroines? Sexist? Hmm. Insight. That's Bob for you.

Glad he eventually resisted communism, if you say so. He may be a nice fellow. I have nothing against him. He has the reputation of someone who does his own thinking. I hope but he has whatever he wants out of life. I don't know if he wants anything from me. I haven't got it.

john dean said...

You have endure Dylan's alleged singing in order to hear the words.

Is that the musical equivalent of passing the bill to find out what's in it?

Or is it more like holding your knows and pulling the lever to learn just how bad one of the two current Presidential candidates will be?

I'd rather stick needles in my eyes...

Roy Lofquist said...

He did have a very nice voice at one time -

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1qaym4_bob-dylan-johnny-cash-girl-from-the-north-country_music

Kipling set to music -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDQEoK0-J9c

Rich Vail said...

Sorry, he doesn't deserve a Nobel.

Valentine Smith said...

I'm way too old to still have heroes. Still, Dylan's a genius and I am in awe of him. That said, he's also a master opportunist and manipulator. He claims Smoky Robinson the greatest lyricist and proclaims that he always wanted to be Elvis. Parody and irony make him a wonderful satirist but he is also a heroin addict nearly killed by myocarditis. A born again Christian and a born again Jew, a true chameleon exemplifies the prototypical Satrean existentialist. A man for his time. Of course that time is long past and was long past when I saw his 50th birthday concert in the Garden. Great concert but the covers didn't measure up except for My Back Pages.

Dylan has been laughing his ass off at himself and the rest of us for 6 decades and now he has the greatest last laugh in all of recorded history.

Roger Sweeny said...

If you see "the Dylan video with the flipping of the cards" (for Subterranean Homesick Blues; you can actually find it by googling "dylan flipping cards video."),
you should also see Weird Al Yankovic's parody (which can be found by googling "weird al yankovic bob dylan parody").

And then there is:
http://www.citypages.com/music/ten-videos-using-bob-dylans-subterranean-homesick-blues-cue-card-concept-6643372