It was announced today that Bob Dylan, one of the pioneers of the rock era, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. You know what? Good for him!
The man could not sing, not in the classic sense, but his lyrics (and his music, too) were and are poetry in motion. His songs were sung by so many diverse performers, from the Byrds, to Peter, Paul and Mary, to John Denver and even George Harrison and Roy Orbison.
John Lennon, who I believe was the genius and the talent of The Beatles, loved Dylan and called him a genius. As the story goes, it went something like this:
John Lennon met Bob Dylan for the first time at the Delmonico Hotel in New York City. So, basically, Dylan walks up to Lennon and says,
“Yo John… Enough of this teenybopper crap! “Help!” is a real cry for help! Show me you have a pure heart, show me you have something to say.”
Lennon admired Dylan. And now, when they finally meet, Dylan pours some tough love on Lennon. It was harsh, but honest.
But Lennon took it to heart. And became…
Fooking John Lennon.
Years later Lennon gave a shout out to Dylan,
“[Back in the day] I wrote songs for the meat market, and I didn’t consider them, the lyrics or anything, to have any depth at all. It was Dylan who helped me realize that.”
The influence that Dylan had on so many songwriters back in the 60s and since then is revealing by the depths the great songwriters went to release their souls to us to “tell it like it is”, or at least, how it should be. Dylan was a master of this.
I could go and provide a list of his greatest songs, but it would be a mini-series. Suffice to say, my favorites have always been, Blowin’ In the Wind, Like a Rolling Stone, The Times, They Are A-Changin’, Positively Fourth Street, Mr Tambourine Man, It Ain’t Me, Babe, and Lay Lady Lay. There are so many more but these are my tops. And, although he may have sung them too, other artists made some of them the big hits they became, and made those artists better than they would have been, otherwise.
So, Congrats to one of the greatest poets America has produced. You waited long enough for your day in the sun, Robert Allen Zimmerman. You paid homage to Dylan Thomas, another great poet, years ago by changing your name to Bob Dylan. And now, finally you get your proper recognition as probably the greatest poet ever, at least since the advent of the rock era.
Like a Rolling Stone, indeed!