The times are certainly a-changin’ when it comes to viewing music as something more substantial than mere ear candy for the average listener.
On Oct. 13, the esteemed 18-member Swedish Academy bestowed upon Bob Dylan the one award not many realized he could win — the Nobel Prize for Literature — “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” according to the press release.
Dylan’s victory, a first for the music community, revolutionizes song lyrics and groups many of these lyrics as a form of poetry. He joins the ranks of historic authors like William Butler Yeats, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. Dylan is also the first American to win the award since Toni Morrison in 1993.
Born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minn. in 1941, the 75-year-old singer-songwriter, operating under the stage name Bob Dylan, roared into the music scene in 1961 with his Woody Guthrie-esque folk music. Possessing timeless albums such as “The Times They Are a-Changin’” and “Highway 61 Revisited” in his repertoire, Dylan cemented his place in the kingdom of music greats early on in his career.
Some of his more controversial protest songs, many of them, like “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” off his sophomore release “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” are what catapulted him into the spotlight. His knack for articulation and beautiful lyricism, especially on the aforementioned album, allowed his songs to stand on their own even without his signature croon to back the lyrics.
Dylan adds the Nobel Prize for Literature to his already-filled shelf of accolades — 12 Grammy awards, one Golden Globe award and one Academy Award. Additionally, Dylan is a recipient of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation “for his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power,” according to the release issued with the award.
Few can contest the influence that Dylan had on music, especially his lyrics and folk style and his Nobel Prize adds to his status as one of the greats.