Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bookish Thursday – The Nobel Prize

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Press Release
13 October 2016

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2016

Bob Dylan

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 is awarded to Bob Dylan

"for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition".

The choice came as a surprise to many – also to me, in one way (not having dared to guess that they’d actually choose him), but not in another (as I’ve actually been thinking before that his lyrics would be worthy of it).

Yesterday evening I was listening to some experts on TV making guesses about likely candidates. In the background they were showing a film clip with the camera sweeping across piles of books in some book shop; among which I also spotted Dylan’s memoirs – which made me wonder a little… However, his name was not mentioned in that TV discussion. But it made the thought cross my mind again: Yes, why not?

Today I forgot to watch the official press conference (at 12:50, European time) – but I found out soon enough (within an hour or so, via FB). And thought: Yes!!! Smile

While my personal favourite *star* in the heaven of music back in my mid teens was (and still is) Paul Simon, Bob Dylan was/is up there as well – and at least as much for his lyrics as for the music. Dylan’s album New Morning (1970) was among the first LP records I owned. I did not have a lot of records back then, but those that I did have were played all the more often – on the small travel gramophone I had in my room.

New Morning Bildresultat för resegrammofon

I also remember going to the library in town with a friend to listen to music there. They had these big comfy armchairs, side by side, where two people could sit and listen to the same record, each with your own set of headphones. You had to ask the librarian to put the record on (the player was behind their desk). But we got to borrow the cover or booklet with the lyrics on, so that we could study those while listening. And I remember us pouring over the lyrics of Dylan (and Simon & Garfunkel, and Leonard Cohen); and looking up words we did not know; and discussing meaning and context... Ever since back then, the lyrics have been as important to me as the music, and I always get severely disappointed if the lyrics aren’t included when I buy a music album.

I was never such a ‘fanatic’ fan that I have collected all of Dylan’s albums. (Far from!) But those I have are from different periods in his career. Besides the New Morning one from my teens, and a couple of retrospective “Best Of” and Bootleg ones, I have three from his most obviously religious period in the late 70s/early 80s (Slow Train Coming, Saved, Shot of Love); and also some of his 21st century ones:  Modern Times, Together Through Life, Tempest. Among my books I also have his collected lyrics from 1962-2001 in book form; and his memoirs (Chronicles, Volume One; but in Swedish translation). 

All in all, Bob Dylan has been a “presence” in my life through 45+ years… And for me, it’s the first time I’ve been able to say that about someone who has been given the Nobel prize during my lifetime! Smile

15 comments:

  1. Your last sentences speak for me too. I grew up feeling he was my older brother and he remains my favorite singer/musician/songwriter. Nice of the prize committee to think outside the box.

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    1. Yes Terra, that's probably what caused the most discussion in the media here (people in general thinking of Dylan as a musician, and not of his lyrics being poetry as well)

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  2. I am extremely pleased that Bob Dylan has been awarded this Nobel Prize.
    My reasons are not yours. I do not like his music at all. BUT I appreciate that he turned songs in a new direction away from the traditional ballad.
    He composed lyrics that reach inside the mind rather than the heart, and that is wonderful. He went in a direction that nobody else saw, and then thousands followed him.
    I do not know much about the chords and intervals in his music but his music also sounds to me unlike what had gone before. Those long, long compositions. The prize is for the literary genre, not the tunes.
    Now I am a trifle concerned that some egocentric photo-hungry nobody will demand that he deserves a Nobel Prize next year for composing a nothing rap. Arrgh!

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    1. Well Louise, I don't think anyone has yet got the Nobel prize by claiming their own right to it :) What everyone is still wondering about is what Dylan himself is thinking about having been awarded it - as far as I know he's still not said a word!

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  3. How shocking! At first, Phil did not believe me. But we both love Dylan. Some of my favorites are Sarah and Tales of Yankee Power.

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    1. Of the albums that I own (the 'Best Of' excluded), the ones 'closest to my heart' are New Morning (because it was my first)(1970), Slow Train Coming (1979), and Modern Times (2006). I guess because each of them (or at least some of the songs on each of them) happened to be in tune with "where I was with myself" at the time I came across them!

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  4. I must admit that Bob Dylan has never featured in my musical universe, at least not consciously. My parents' musical taste influenced mine when I was little; they (esp. my Dad) were listening to the Beatles, and when I was 8 or 9 years old, my Mum started bringing ABBA albums home from work - she worked at the library, where (just like you describe) they put on LPs on request, to be listened to with headphones.
    Dylan's style has of course significantly influenced other musicians, but I was never drawn to his songs; I am too shallow, I guess.

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    1. Meike, I think Dylan has always been a bit of a divider in the sense that people either like him or they don't. For me, there are a few of his albums and songs that have meant a lot to me; but even more that I've never even heard, and probably never will :)

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  5. I am happy for him and even happier for you that this makes you happy...

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    1. Thanks Sandra. I'm happy that you are happy for me that I'm happy that... (LOL)

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  6. Dylan's music wasn't my music and I can recall few of his lyrics. Louise said that he composed lyrics that reach inside the mind rather than the heart. That may have something to do with it in my subconscious. For me music is primarily an emotion. Whilst song lyrics are obviously very important it is the musical expression that talks to me rather than the words. Which is probably why I love opera so much.

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    1. Graham, for me some of Dylan's lyrics (and music) reach both mind and heart :) But yes, I do think that people listen in different ways, and to some the lyrics matter more than to others. (With me, I think words often stick better than tunes in my memory; but that said, it is also true that music/rhytm make it easier to remember lyrics/poetry.)

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  7. As I commented on your Facebook entry, Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel were a major part of my youth.

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    1. Simon & Garfunkel were my No 1 favourites as well, and probably always will be, because I've listened to them so much through the years, and still keep returning to those albums :) (and I've followed Paul's solo career since then as well and have every major album)

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