Bob DylanOctober 19, 2016
2016 Nobel Prize in Literature
I graduated from high school in 1972. Many of you are aware of the following information, perhaps first hand, since you were growing up during that time as well. It was a period filled with challenges and turbulence. The Vietnam War started in 1955, escalated in the 60’s in response to military clashes. Even though the military fighting involvement ended in 1973 the war officially ended in 1975. The following year North and South Vietnam were reunified.
Bell bottom jeans, beads, headbands, fringe, tie-dyed t-shirts, leather sandals, Dr. Scholl’s wood-bottom sandals, and leather Earth shoes were popular attire. French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent created “The Mondrian Collection” as a homage to the work of several modernistic artists.
The Woodstock Festival was held in 1969 at a 600-acre cattle farm in the Catskills (NY) with an audience of more than 400,000 people. I have a brother who was at Woodstock for the pivotal moment in popular music history. Many of the songs performed at Woodstock by the 32 acts were protest songs.
Some of the musicians and artists of that time period were The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Claes Oldenburg. Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin as well (both died from drug related deaths).
Dylan did not perform at Woodstock but his song The Times They Are a-Changin’ documents the early-’60s turbulence and became an anthem for change. Most interesting, Dylan never claimed to be a protest singer.
What does Dylan and The Times Are a-Changin’ have to do with me and my high school graduation? My class sang the song at graduation – it was our small way of recognizing (and for some of us supporting) what was going on, even though we were at the tail end of it. My older brothers were in the thick of it so I was very aware at a family level of what was happening.
Consequently, I was gleeful to hear the recent news that Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature. So wonderful to know that he is the first musician to be recognized with this award makes it even more special!
If you’re around my age you may have a personal Dylan connection yourself. If you’re younger you may have (or will have) a personal connection to music or an artist from your past. Hopefully the memory will be as sweet as this is for me. I couldn’t let this opportunity pass without sharing my Dylan story. Enjoy Bob Dylan singing The Times They Are A-Changin in this Youtube video.
STOCKHOLM — American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan won the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday, a stunning announcement that for the first time bestowed the prestigious award on a musician.
The Swedish Academy cited Dylan for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
Reporters and others gathered for the announcement at the academy’s headquarters in Stockholm’s Old Town reacted with a loud cheer as his name was read out.
Dylan, who turned 75 in May, had been mentioned in the Nobel speculation for years, but few experts expected the academy to extend the prestigious award to a genre such as popular music.
The academy’s permanent secretary, Sara Danius, said that while Dylan performs his poetry in the form of songs, that’s no different from the ancient Greeks, whose works were often performed to music.
“Bob Dylan writes poetry for the ear,” she said. “But it’s perfectly fine to read his works as poetry.”
Dylan was born on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota. He grew up in a Jewish middle-class family. He’s the first American winner of the Nobel literature prize since Toni Morrison in 1992.
By his early 20s, he had taken the folk music world by storm. “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin” became anthems for the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s. Dylan was also awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his contributions to music and American culture.
The literature award was the last of this year’s Nobel Prizes to be announced. The six awards will be handed out on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.
Earlier this year, renowned photographer Ken Regan released a limited edition book capturing rare, intimate images of Dylan on tour.