Note: Written 10/14/16
I can’t even imagine what it must be for Bob Dylan to get the Nobel Prize for literature. Here he is, a man past his prime. The younger generation – people under 30 (don’t trust them) – hardly know who he is: “Isn’t he an old singer or something?”
And suddenly, a Nobel Prize! International recognition! And for literature, no less! He’s up there with Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Tom Wolfe (the old one and the new one). But not only did he write good literature (poetry), but he put his words to music, and then he sang them (all right, not that well.)
I’ve been saying for years – since I’ve been singing Dylan songs forever – that once he dies, he will go down as the best songwriter in American history. Well, we don’t have to wait.
Sure, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and the Gershwin Brothers wrote some great songs. Some. The Rolling Stone Magazine once had a front page article: “The 100 best Bob Dylan songs.”
Although Dylan hasn’t written any successful Broadway tunes, he has written just every other kind of song: religious (I Believe in You), protest (License to Kill), romantic (Let You Feel My Love), storytelling (Simple Twist of Fate), folk (Mr. Tamborine Man), humorous (Buckets of Rain), Country Western (Love That Country Pie), and surreal (Visions of Johanna).
A therapist once said that you could find the solution to almost every psychological problem in one of Dylan’s songs. Along the same line, a writer once stated that you could find a Dylan quote for almost every situation (of course……he wrote hundreds of poetic songs).
He also gave us words of wisdom. It is said that when he lived in Woodstock, NY, there was a Bible on a stand in the middle of his living room, a probable source of much of his wisdom.
Here, in Buckets of Rain, he tells us how to live:
Life is sad
life is a bust
all you can do
is do what you must
do what you must do
and do it well
I’ll do it for you,
Honey babe, can’t you tell
And, in Idiot Wind, he tells us of the illusion of worldly success:
When you reach the top
you find out you’re on the bottom
And then, in License to Kill, he gives us an insight in what we are doing to the planet:
and he worships at an alter
of a stagnant pool
and when he sees his reflection
he is fulfilled
man is opposed to fair play
he wants it all, and he wants it his way
but there’s a woman
on my block
she just sits there
in a cold chill
“who’s going to take away
his license to kill?”
But these are only a few lines of his pure poetry. There’s hundreds of them.
Congratulations, Bob Dylan. A job well done. You ran the good race and you won.