ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bob Dylan--Lyrics as Poetry

Was it 'Judas', the greatest songwriter in the history of pop music, who got the Lit Nobel?

Bernard D’Mello writes:

One needs to recall that the recipient of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature, Bob Dylan, commended by the Nobel panel “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” and who began his songwriting and singing career in the early 1960s, was inspired by the left-wing folk musicians Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. When good poetry—Dylan has written a lot of lousy rhymes too—is sung well, better if it’s not in a nasal tone, it certainly touches the heart more deeply, and that is what Dylan and a lot of other singers who have been inspired by the lyrics of some of his songs have achieved. The English singer–songwriter Billy Bragg has paid the first ever poet–songwriter Lit Nobel recipient a huge compliment in his assertion that Dylan “introduces Blakean imagery into rock music and becomes in one bold step the psychedelic Woody Guthrie.” Frankly, I am a bit confounded by the present tense, unless one takes, as one should, Dylan’s lyrics and songs up to his Blonde on Blonde album of 1966 to stand on their own, regardless of the direction their creator has traversed since then.

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