A Nobel Prize in Literature – Bob Dylan

10-21-2016-2-55-54-pmAlfred Nobel (October 21, 1833 – December 10, 1896) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist. He was best known for inventing dynamite. He held 355 different patents for inventions during his lifetime.

He is also known for the Nobel Prizes given each year. These prizes recognize five categories regardless of country of origin. Three of the prizes awarded are Physical Science, Chemistry and Medicine. Another prize given is Literature and the fifth prize is given for the furtherance of Peace.


In The Nobel Prize: The First 100 Years, Kjell Espmark states that “[a]mong the five prizes provided for in Alfred Nobel’s will (1895), one was intended for the person who, in the literary field, had produced ‘the most outstanding work in an ideal direction’.”

I tell you all of this because Bob Dylan (born Robert Zimmerman May 24, 1941), singer, songwriter, author, and artist, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Professor Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, announced that the Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 was awarded to Bob Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

When I heard the announcement last week, I was jumping up and down and dancing in my seat. It was too exciting. I understand that some people think that he should not have been awarded such a distinguished prize. His nasally, mumble voice is very difficult to understand at times. But, the lyrics are “work in an ideal direction.” And, I love to read the lyrics – the poetry. The songs are full of imagery and symbolism.
Dylan has been around for five decades. Since 1994, Dylan has published six books of drawings and paintings, and his work has been exhibited in major art galleries. As a musician, Dylan has sold more than 100 million records, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He has also received numerous awards. He won eleven Grammy Awards for songs that included “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Mr. Tamborine Man,” “Like a Rollin’ Stone,” and “Highway 61 Revisited.” He won a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar for the song “Things Have Changed” from Wonder Boys.

Dylan has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Pulitzer Prize jury in 2008 awarded him a special citation for “his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.” In May 2012, Dylan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

If you have never listened to (or read) the works of Bob Dylan, I recommend you surf the web and check out this talented word master. You will not regret it. If you would like to hear Bob Dylan locally, you can try to get tickets to the Von Braun Center on October 29th.
By: Wanda Campbell
Center for Lifelong Learning – 121 South Marion Street, Athens, AL 35611 – 256-233-8262