October 13, 2016

The reaction in the room as it is announced that Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize in Literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

There's a gasp and a grand mix of pleasure and excitement sounds:



So I guess in some way this is also a prize for the American song tradition, to which Bob Dylan belongs, and within which he created new poetic expressions.

The word "tradition" appears in no Bob Dylan song, but Bob Dylan is very devoted to the tradition, and you can really experience that if you listen to his old "Theme Time" radio shows. As far as people "creating" good new things, I don't think you'll find that in Bob Dylan songs. There's bad human creation:
Now the rovin’ gambler he was very bored
He was tryin’ to create a next world war
He found a promoter who nearly fell off the floor
He said I never engaged in this kind of thing before
But yes I think it can be very easily done
We’ll just put some bleachers out in the sun
And have it on Highway 61...
That's "Highway 61 Revisited," the first words of which are "Oh God," and you will find God the Creator in Bob Dylan songs:
There’s a kingdom called Heaven
A place where there is no pain of birth
Well the Lord created it, mister
About the same time He made the earth 
That's "Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking."

31 comments:

Jason said...

Dylan calls Rod Stewart to congratulate him on his knighthood in 3... 2... 1...


... And to ask him where he got those trousers.

Jake said...

We have a different definition of gasp.

Earnest Prole said...

“Who Will Win the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature? Not Bob Dylan, that's for sure.”

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Curious George said...

If only apathy had a sound.

Jason said...

Paul Simon's a better songwriter. So is Leonard Cohen at his best. There. I said it.

Anthony said...

Does anyone take the Nobels seriously anymore?

Char Char Binks said...

Is this a joke? Yes it is.

coupe said...

...is that a pussy bow dress she is wearing?

the horror...the horror...

Spiros Pappas said...

The Iliad and the Odyssey are the best examples of recited or sung performances. Homer is often portrayed as a blind minstrel! That was great literature and, maybe, Bob Dylan is part of this long tradition.

FullMoon said...

Jason said... [hush]​[hide comment]

Paul Simon's a better songwriter. So is Leonard Cohen at his best. There. I said it

Opinions are like assholes...etc

MadisonMan said...

The question is: What kind of reaction happens typically? All the announcements I've seen are in English, presumably done after the initial announcement.

SteveR said...

"I ain't a-saying you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don't mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don't think twice, it's all right."

It's all right. Really

Sebastian said...

"There’s a kingdom called Heaven
A place where there is no pain of birth
Well the Lord created it, mister
About the same time He made the earth."

OK, question for Dylan and poetry connoisseurs here: why is this great poetry?

Amexpat said...

Damn, that was one serious Swede. Emotion is not allowed in the literature room.

SteveR said...

Making a rhyme, making a song, never trying to be perfect, never caring that it wasn't. The Nobel gig is perfect. All the snobs are aghast.

I saw him a couple years ago, only (barely) recognized one song in nearly an hour. The backup band was excellent.

I always felt the pain of Blood on the Tracks which was good for me.

We live in a time when we can decide for ourselves to a large degree. Pick away.

coupe said...

Sebastian said......why is this great poetry?

Hmmm... great, well now... great as in big, great as in good. Grand, or formidable?

Poetry is not "great", it is just poetry. "great" is a commercial value, or media popularity.

Why is something popular in the media? payola baby!

David Begley said...

My first thought when I heard this: Althouse must be over the moon!

Earnest Prole said...

I have to say Norwegian Tina Fey looks milfalicious in her blouse from 1985.

Otto said...

" There's bad human creation:" Wow there is a novel thought. Ever hear or read the Bible? Much better prose than Dylan and more comprehensive.

Bob Ellison said...

If Bob Dylan shows up for the ceremony, I'll tune in to hear what he says about it. I love the notion that he doesn't care about or need this. Maybe when he lays his head down on the pillow tonight he'll smile a little smile. Maybe not for the reasons most winners smile.

Sebastian said...

@coupe: "Poetry is not "great", it is just poetry." Well, OK then. But clearly many people think Dylan's writing is great in the sense of really good and creative and meaningful, so good that it 1. gets the biggest prize in the world, 2. is admired by people whose judgment I respect in other areas, and 3. means so much to many people that we get the kind of celebratory post AA wrote this morning. Then I look at the actual words and ask: why? what makes it great (or whatever laudatory adjective you care to use)?

In another thread I got: it's great only if it speaks to you. Of course, such extreme subjectivism is one esthetic theory. But I can easily recognize works of arts as great, along several dimensions, that don't "speak" to me personally. Heck, there are whole art forms that don't speak to me, in which I nonetheless can understand and admire particular outstanding works as "great" (sublime, marvelous, you name it). With Dylan, I find it harder. (Even though I like the distinctive worldview I glean from what I have read.)

Tim Miksch said...

They mysteriously inserted Dylan lyrics in the Close Captioning:

Another mojada exactly the Welcome not
Heal spell scare came in a caminar you
Stuffed summer const or this little that
Samsung Scotty and their loss or its No
Developers is a little too…

Nobel princess glitter tattoo or sugar
Undersexed on till their loss
Bob Vila

dustbunny said...

Also noticed the pussy-bow, Just like a woman, she is sending us a Dylanesque message.

Ann Althouse said...

Pussy bow. Ha ha. I noticed that too.

Moneyrunner said...

The Nobel committee has been fucked up for quite a while. Giving Obama a check on the come, and now a popular song writer? The random person in the Swedish phone book would not have done this. You have to be either an academic or government official.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

White Boomers need to get their pantheon in place soon, because their creed of multiculturalism means that in another generation their tastes and their offspring will be left in the dust.

Bob Loblaw said...

This says a lot more about the Nobel committee than it says about Dylan.

ganderson said...

Ulf Lundell must be pissed:

"Jag vill ha ett lejon
Mars och Jupiter säger så
Att jag ska ha ett lejon
Det är dom enda jag kan lita på..."


That's literature!

ganderson said...

Here's Ulf:


https://youtu.be/WtjYaGRzH0M