Tuesday, October 18, 2016

bunch of Swedes

"Yes, it's not exactly a competition that you enter.  A bunch of Swedes decided to give you a prize; well, it's up to you if you want it or not."

~~  Reader Comment in The Guardian - "Nobel panel gives up knockin' on Dylan's door"


It's like a tsunami of Reader Comments and editorial opinions about Bob Dylan being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.  And then some pop-journalists are trying to stir-a-pot-of-drama, saying Dylan isn't answering the phone call from the Nobel Committee fast enough...

--------------- "His songs are not literature!"

"Poetry is not literature!"

"Lyrics are not poetry!"

"I for one don't know what I'm talking about but I know more than all the people on the Nobel Prize Committee!"

"He can't sing!"

"He should answer them, and say Thank You for the damn award!"

"He doesn't deserve the award!"

"He should not accept the award!"

(And I thought I had a headache, before...)


One Reader Comment at The Guardian referred to a 50-year-old Newport Folk Festival controversy, writing, "He'd better not accept.  Next thing, he'll be going f---ing electric."

Other Guardian Reader Comments:

Knockin' on his door?  Well, they are the No Bell committee...

Will he accept the Swedish prize?  Alfred Nobel was a major weapons manufacturer (Bofors Cannons) and of course also the inventor of dynamite and the smokefree gunpowder.  The Nobel Prize group is still sponsored by the weapons industry.  Listen to "Masters of War"!

----------------- Could be wrong but weren't the Nobel prizes created because Alfred was appalled at what was being done with his inventions and he wanted to make amends.  I am sure that is what Look and Learn said.  Anyone remember the Trigan Empire?

Dude is busy walking through the valley of death:

Take that, Sartre!

---------------------------- Johnny Cash went there first

"Nobel panel gives up knockin' on Dylans' door"...
They should have tried ringing his doorbell.  You get Chimes Of Freedom on it.

Homer can't be found to open the door.

[Lyric insert, from Blue Collar Lit] -- ("Take care of all your memories"
Said my friend Mick
"For you cannot relive them
And remember when you're out there
Tryin' to heal the sick
That you must always
First forgive them"
Open the door, Homer
I've heard it said before
Open the door, Homer
I've heard it said before
But I ain't gonna hear it said no more...

~~  Bob Dylan, excerpt - "Open The Door, Homer" -- 1968)

[back to Guardian Reader comments]

..."Pynchon, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy...."

Pynchon or Roth...maybe.  McCarthy, definitely!
However, the case for those authors STILL doesn't detract from Dylan's amazing influence.  Well done, Nobel committee!

...Dylan is the 10th American to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature after Sinclair Lewis (1930), Eugene O'Neill (1936), Pearl S. Buck (1938), T.S. Eliot (1948), William Faulkner (1949), Ernest Hemingway (1954), John Steinbeck (1962), Saul Bellow (1976) and Toni Morrison (1993).

If you examine [lyrics] closely you will see Dylan rhymes "Sorrow" with "Tomorrow".

He has also rhymed "Mouse" with "House", "Moon" with "June" and "September" with "Remember".

My favorite is "Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle like a bowl of soup,
Wiggle wiggle wiggle like a rollin' hoop"

Should get a Nobel Prize for chutzpah alone!

Well spotted!  I agree that he fully deserves his Nobel Prize. 

It may sound strange to say this, given his huge global influence and achievement, but Bob Dylan still seems somewhat under-appreciated and underrated - in particular, the literary quality of his lyrics: 

the poetic force of his language as well as the prophetic resonance of his themes.

I actually love that the award has elevated song lyrics to a status previously beyond the form of popular song.... 

The mere fact it has outraged so many snobs in the process gives me a feeling of vindication.  Silly but true.  Lyrics, well written, touch people, elevate lives and enrich us all ... Hurrah!

Absolutely agree with everything you say.  Great quote, one of my favourites after:  "Money doesn't talk, it swears."

"Even the President of the United States must sometimes have to stand naked" is not poetry - it is a perfect example of folk rock lyrics. 

I doubt most people have a clue what poetry is, but it is not folk music.  There are endless musicians who've affected popular culture with revolutionary ideas - it just isn't poetry. 

I hope poets of this country will stand up and condemn this misuse of their award.

The distinction you draw between folk music and poetry is weak - and irrelevant in the case of Bob Dylan, who evolved beyond being a folk musician 50 years ago.

Are Visions of Johanna, Boots of Spanish Leather, Like a Rolling Stone, It's All Over Now Baby Blue and Tangled Up in Blue folk songs?  Of course not.  They are Bob Dylan songs, and they are as poetic as songs get.

It's Alright Ma is for me perhaps the prime example of Dylan as poet.  Visions of Johanna is another contender. 

I'm not sure what people mean when they say he's a lyricist not a poet.  

Anyone who has to make that distinction is a snob rather than an appreciator / interpreter of poetry. 

I'd like to hear a sensible answer as to why Dylan is not a "real" poet by anyone who cares to answer.

It might help if you tried to explain why you don't think his lyrics counts as literature rather than just repeating your point.

So you think Seamus Healey shouldn't have been awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1995?  I love all Dylan's work but he is a scribbler compared to Healey.

That of course should be Heaney not Healey.  Bloody spell-checkers.

He is a lyricist rather than a poet, in the modern definition (by which I mean the definition that has gathered speed since the invention of the printing press, at which point poetry was less and less often accompanied by music). 

But Dylan's lyrics are, at their best, potent and poetic and have been hugely influential across the arts. 

So for the Nobel committee to award him the prize as a lyricist on the basis that he has "created new poetic expression in the great American song tradition" seems entirely reasonable to me.

Of course, the earliest poetry was virtually all sung or chanted, more often than not accompanied by music, string instruments.  The epic poets of Greece, Sumer, India (as well as the Hindu vedas) etc.