The Nobel literature gong to Bob Dylan? You can’t be serious

There may be such a thing as universal greatness, but the Nobel committee may not be the best judges

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 12:49am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2016, 5:35pm

Probably no one is more amused and baffled than Bob Dylan that he has won the Nobel Prize for literature. Given the fact that the legendary musician epitomises 1960s counter-culture, civil rights and anti-war, he might as well be given the peace prize too. That would be just as appropriate, or inappropriate. I imagine Dylan already has the perfect reply to the Nobel committee: “No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe/ It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe.”

The whole exercise proves once again that we shouldn’t take the Nobels so seriously when it comes to the prizes on peace, literature and economics. Don’t get me wrong. I love the guy. With any other rock stars, I would qualify as a fan. But with Dylan, a true fan needs to feel a personal, almost religious, communion with the great man.

Interestingly, no one finds fandom more burdensome and ridiculous than Dylan. “I was sick of the way my lyrics had been extrapolated,” he wrote in Chronicles, his memoir, “their meanings subverted into polemics and that I had been anointed as the Big Bubba of Rebellion, High Priest of Protest, the Czar of Dissent, the Duke of Disobedience, Leader of the Freeloaders, Kaiser of Apostasy, Archbishop of Anarchy, the Big Cheese.”

Watch: ‘Greatest living poet’ Bob Dylan wins Nobel literature prize

Bob Dylan wins Nobel Prize for Literature for ‘new poetic expressions within great American song tradition’

And now, The Great Poet.

He spends the rest of his life running away from the shadow of the 1960s, from his own great legacy. That is why he is still playing concerts, but almost never sings any of his big 60s hits.

“He is certainly a great poet,” said Sara Danius, of the Nobel Academy. Certainly?

Blowin’ in the Wind, Mr Tambourine Man, The Times They are a-Changin’, Just like a Woman… Great songs, one and all. But their lyrics are poetry, and great poetry at that? Rather than wearing your meanings on your sleeve, some people might think great poetry should be somewhat non-obvious.

Some of his own songs he just killed with his horrid singing. Who would remember All Along the Watchtower if Jimi Hendrix didn’t revive it and make it immortal?

The Nobel has been taken so seriously for more than a century because the West teaches the world that western values are universal values; among these is true greatness. There may be such a thing as universal greatness, but the Nobel committee may not be the best judges.