Thursday, October 13, 2016
It's Al'right, Ma!: Dylan wins Nobel for Literature
What a great day, so happy - walking around as if in a glow, the only comparable day was the day after the Red Sox won the World Series (October 2004). I actually said to M the other day that I hoped it would happen this year - and we had the radio on this a.m. and I walked into the living room and thought I heard it and couldn't be believe it: Bob Dylan, Nobel Prize for literature. I posted on this in 2011, so you can check that out using the right-hand index under "Dylan." A few cranks today have suggested he doesn't deserve the prize, it should have gone to a "real writer." I think back to the day when I first heard Subterranean Homesick Blues - my childhood friend Mark Lewis - whom I hadn't seen in decades until last weekend at our h.s. reunion - was the first to buy the album and we listened together and I remarked: Is it folk or rock?, to which Mark presciently said: There's no difference anymore. Of course he was right - Dylan changed everything, including the way we think about music and, now, the way we think about literature. To suggest he doesn't merit this award is churlish and short-sighted; get out of the new one if you can't lend a hand. His works will endure as long as there are people to listen to music, to sing, to read, to laugh, to get angry, to fall in (and out of) love. So here's to: Visions of Johanna, Love Minus Zero - No Limit, To Ramona, Like a Rolling Stone, Positively Fourth Street, The Hour that the Ship Comes In, The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carol, Blowin' in the Wind, It's Al'right Ma, I and I, It Ain't Me Babe, Spanish Boots, I'm Not There, Idiot Wind, Just Like Tom Thumb Blues, Just Like a Woman, Series of Dreams, License to Kill, Feel My Love, Sign on the Cross - do you get the idea? I could fill this page with a list of his great songs, from so many different genres, eras, periods of his life and work, and yet all recognizably Dylan - his entire corpus is an account of his life and thoughts and feelings, as is the work of Proust, of Joyce (two whom the Nobel passed over, amazingly), Keats or Whitman - particular to Dylan, but universal as well, not only enabling us to see his life but to make sense of our own lives, in the moment and over time. I'm fortunate to be a near-contemporary, just a few years younger, and my life has in some ways followed the course of his music, been shaped by his music. To have been his contemporary, I imagine, is similar to having been Shakespeare's - not to see the work as a fixed monument in time, as we look back on the Shakespeare canon, but as a work of genius continuously unfolding and developing. This was a great day.