I have been thinking about Bob Dylan lately. I have been enamored by Bob for well over a decade now. I first saw him in concert soon after my eighteenth birthday, and have subsequently seen him five times. I have all of his albums, and many bootlegs; I have Tarantula, and many books written about him. I love Bob Dylan, which is why my reaction to him winning the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature surprised me.
I was ambivalent to Bob winning the prize. It immediately brought to mind the time he won the Tom Paine Award in 1963. His response to that award was complicated: you can listen to someone read the speech he gave here. It seems that Bob doesn’t really care about The Nobel Peace Prize, and for that, I am thankful.
I asked my friend Laird what he thinks about Bob Dylan today, and he was generous enough to not only provide his thoughts on Bob, but his thoughts on the prize itself:
First off, I’m not one of those who see Dylan as Messianic. Call me crass, but going through Bowie’s songbook has always had more resonance for me. On purely musical terms, not considering lyrics, there is so much more in Bowie’s world that moves me, intrigues me, inspires me, than Mr. Zimmerman’s tunesmithing. Be that as it may, he was at times a lyricist of greatness. How much of this is of his zeitgeist and how much beyond, time will tell, I s’pose. (we must admit that the 60’s 70s were phenomenal times for music.) Certainly many boomers have zealous faith/belief in Dylan’s universality. Nevertheless, I think it’s a species of delight that Nobel went/came his way: it bugs the chilly academics and the spiteful nationalists, while befuddling the middle brow chattering class. It’s very Amero-centric but many Nobels are crazy partisan obscurities. I mean have you seen some of the past winners? Truly ludicrous, not to mention very Nordic-biased at one time. I loathe prizes in general, especially these grandiose poops, but the Nobel brings out the worst embarrassments…
I would venture to guess that Dylan shares many of Laird’s sentiments regarding the Nobel Peace Prize; maybe that is why he hasn’t bothered to answer the phone. After all, isn’t he just a song and dance man?
You can have a listen to my survey of Dylan’s impossibly large body of work below. (I am in the process of upgrading my podcast site, so I can upload more content, but in the meantime, you can download directly from me here or stream it over Soundcloud below).