Renowned folk musician Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, it was announced on Thursday, Oct. 13. Dylan is the first songwriter to receive the prestigious prize and the first American recipient since author Toni Morrison in 1993. Said the Swedish Academy’s permanent secretary, Sara Danius, “he created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Watch Danius discuss the unorthodox choice above.
Danius added, “He is a great poet in the English-speaking tradition. For 54 years now he has been at it and reinventing himself constantly, creating a new identity.” She specifically singled out his 1966 album “Blonde on Blonde” for praise as “an extraordinary example of his brilliant way of rhyming and his pictorial thinking.”
But how does a musician qualify for an award usually reserved for novelists, poets, historians and playwrights? Danius draws parallels to the writers of some of the most famous written works in human history: “If you look far back — 2,500 years or so — you discover Homer and Sappho, who wrote poetic texts that were meant to be listened to, meant to be performed often together with instruments. It’s the same way with Bob Dylan.”
Dylan, now 75-years-old, is best known for songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are-a-Changin'” which became political anthems during the turbulent 1960s. Over the course of his career he has accumulated some of America’s most prestigious honors. He has won 12 Grammys and an Oscar for Best Song (“Things Have Changed” from “Wonder Boys,” 2000) as well as a Kennedy Center Honor (1997), a Pulitzer Prize (2008), a National Medal of the Arts (2009) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2012). In addition, he has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1982) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1988).
What do you think of the choice of Bob Dylan as the Nobel Prize winner for literature? And will he win yet more Grammys this year for his 2016 album, “Fallen Angels,” which is the 37th studio disc of his long and storied career?
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