Friday, 14 October 2016

In the final end

I'm not going to let Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize in Literature go without a little post.

It made me happy. Bob Dylan remains at the centre of everything for me, has been since I was 16, he's the overwhelming reason I'm so obsessive about and such a zealous advocate for popular song, that I approach it the way that I do, he's informed so much of how I think and how I process words. There can be big strong arguments for Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince, Bowie, James Brown, Neil Young, whoever they like, but it's always Dylan for me. And I wasn't even there.

This is also a validation for song. Lyrics are a way that we encounter words, hence its literature. There've been novelists, poets, playwrights, journalists win this prize. Quite right that a songwriter should. These people who go "most lyrics to pop music are nonsense, for example "she loves you, yeah, yeah". See, I told you." There are still a surprising number of them. They're the worst people.

If any of them, Roth or Murakami or Margaret Atwood or any other writer the green chorus suggests is "better" than him just by virtue of writing novels, could make words meet music like he could, I'd be stunned.

Plenty have tried - Simon Armitage and Salman Rushdie and others. Rushdie's not bleating about lyric writing being a lesser art form.

I've read Homer in Greek and Virgil in Latin, I've read Shakespeare and Faulkner, Frantzen and Woolf, Camus and Heaney. I think Bob Dylan's better. I don't just like him better. I think he's better. There.

And also, I bet Bob Dylan's inspired more people to be writers than pretty much anyone else in the last 50 years.

He'll probably turn it down or some stupid shit. No, actually, I don't think he will. My guess is that nothing's ever made him happier. I remember how genuinely thrilled he said he was to get good reviews for his book.

And also ... read this fabulous article about Leonard Cohen ...
and read Dylan's contribution halfway down to see how much he really cares about stuff that he likes.

And also, if you really want to know if Dylan winning the Nobel Prize is a good thing, compare these two articles, the first by the same author as the above, David Remnick. He thinks it's good

And, this now, by this guy (I feel a little cruel to pick him out, but really)
He doesn't think it's a good thing. But ... bless ...