more than five decades, Bob Dylan has been known and globally revered for his
prolific work as a song
writer/musician. Dylan is not only famous for the songs he sang but also for the lyrics
he wrote which makes him distinct as an artist.
half a century ago, Dylan has also written a plethora of songs with socially
and politically charged words, stirring controversy. In the 60s, for example,
he has written many songs (like “Blowin’
in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin”) which sparked the civil rights movements and anti-Vietnam
war protests (TiffHill, 2016).
time, Dylan is making the world abuzz again albeit for a different reason.
legacy now includes the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first musician
to win the award.
Why The Fuss
Nobel win is a big deal.
only did he cross the traditional line of what’s long been regarded as a higher
form of literature work but he also created a new paradigm shift in the entire
field of art and music as a whole.
According to the Swedish Academy,
Dylan was awarded for “having
created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”(ibid.).
In this regard, Dylan is credited
for his ingenious musical talents and perhaps more extensively for his creative
words conveying the profound messages of life – the trials of love, loss, and various
social issues which can broadly resonate with a lot of people.
Having his artistry recognized in
this fashion with the highest prestige, Dylan’s merit and influence as a
songwriter have proved him much more than his mere status as an American folk
Nonetheless, the buzz
around Bob Dylan’s news is not all positive.
His latest achievement has
also been taunted among critics, causing much controversy.
Especially in the
literature community, the choice made by the Nobel Committee to award
Dylan has not been well received and its legitimacy is being questioned
(Sisario and Alter, 2016).
Some writers and publishers have argued that the
Academy’s decision was not based on established
literary traditions but rather confounded by the populist notion.
Historically speaking, however, Dylan is not the only
exception to receive the award as someone outside the literature community for
whom the Academy has stretched its parameters for consideration.
In 1953, Winston Churchill was awarded the prize for
the literary qualities of his political speeches. More recently, the Academy
recognized Belarussian journalist, Svetlana Alexievich, for his journalistic narratives (ibid.).
Dylan’s supporters further argue that as a songwriter, Bob Dylan has always
been a poet. It is claimed that his lyrics are not just mere words but more of
his poetic expressions of his creativity delivering powerful messages.
Constructs of Literature Redefined
All the arguments aside, Dylan’s winning the award has
definitely helped close the gap between the old definitions of high and low art,
merging the unifying language into one solid category of value.
Regardless of whether
Dylan merits the award, there’s no doubt that his body of work has made a lasting,
indelible imprint on the world.
Perhaps, music is the universal language transcending
the bounds of literature defined by many and Dylan’s greatest contribution is the
way he has engineered and epitomized it.
For this reason alone, Bob Dylan may truly deserve
the award after all.
B and Alter A. October 13, 2016. Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize, Redefining
Boundaries of Literature. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/14/arts/music/bob-dylan-nobel-prize-literature.html
The TiffHill. October 14, 2016. Daily Kos.Bob
Dylan’s Nobel Win Met With Controversy. Daily Kos. Retrieved from http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/10/14/1582530/-Bob-Dylan-s-Nobel-Win-Met-With-Controversy