Friday, October 14, 2016

Dylan wins Nobel Prize

Yesterday, it was announced that Bob Dylan, in keeping with Orpheus and other bards’ tradition of music and poetry, has won the 2016 Nobel Prize for literature, a first for a musician, but not, of course, for poetry. Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman in Minnesota in 1941, who denied he changed his name to Dylan because of another poet, Dylan Thomas, hit the folk scene in NYC in 1961 and became an icon for songs such as “Blowing in the Wind” made famous by the already renowned folk singers Peter, Paul, and Mary. In 1965, Dylan went electric, debuting his new style at the Newport Folk Festival, where the change was not well received by his folk music fans. Dylan also sung country, blues, and gospel, and rock and roll leading music biographer David Hajdu (Positively Forth Street) to say of Dylan, “He contains multitudes.” Dylan himself said, “You are constantly in the state of becoming.” Neuroplasticity agrees.

Dylan, who boasts over 60 albums, was awarded the Prize “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”   An American has not won the Nobel Prize for Literature since 1993 (Toni Morrison). This honor was added to his induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, and his Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

Therapists know the necessity of not relying wholly on the narrative, the explicit, the spoken word. Dylan, too, understood something about words, “Words have their own meanings or they have different meanings. And then all words change their meanings.” (Scorsese, 2005, No Direction Home). He influenced countless musicians, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, and U2.

A personal note: A fan of his music since I was 8 years old, perhaps Dylan made us feel revolutionary, for even my civil rights demonstrating mother, more of a Bizet fan, upon hearing Bob Dylan on the stereo record player, said, only somewhat disparagingly, “He lows like a cow.”

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