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Pamela Moberg

Nobel Prize to be announced 13 October

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1 hour ago, Helene said:

The Boss approves:

 

 Natch. Hint, hint, Nobel committee.

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5 hours ago, dirac said:

Like Quiggin, I hope this is a one-off........

 

 

 

Next year: Kanye West, who will give an impassioned speech against the Nobel Peace Prize award to Taylor Swift. Meanwhile, at the Grammy's...

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I think many of us were surprised, but, I think, Dylan has always seen himself more as a poet than a songwriter. The few times I have seen him in concert he has -somewhat reluctantly, it seemed - played some of the old favorites, but only the text remained similar; the music was - or seemed to be - inconsequential and replaceable. For him, the words seem to be the most important. 

 

-d-

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5 hours ago, diane said:

I think many of us were surprised, but, I think, Dylan has always seen himself more as a poet than a songwriter. The few times I have seen him in concert he has -somewhat reluctantly, it seemed - played some of the old favorites, but only the text remained similar; the music was - or seemed to be - inconsequential and replaceable. For him, the words seem to be the most important. 

 

-d-

 

As someone who's heard him perform many times for nearing 40 years now, I disagree that he sees music as an afterthought. I see his constantly changing and mutating arrangements as of a piece with the restless creativity that's made him write songs in so many musical styles over the years. Certainly the crack musicians he hires to tour with him wouldn't stick around if what they had to play was inconsequential. 

 

Casual fans of course like to hear the hits in somewhat recognizable fashion. For obsessive, er, dedicated fans like myself, the height of excitement is, for example, hearing him change the rhythm of an arrangement mid-song, as he did with Mr. Tambourine Man in Maryland in 2000.

 

But you’re right that he sees himself as a writer first. He once called himself “a poet first and a musician second.” 

 

Alex Ross weighs in on the Nobel controversy here: Bob Dylan as Richard Wagner The following excerpt concerns the music as such:

 

Quote

 the musical component of Dylan’s genius has been consistently undervalued: the songs have an unshakable structure, an old-as-the-hills presence. Furthermore, Dylan’s habit of constantly fiddling with his work in performance, however much it may irritate his longtime fans, gives the songs mobility in time: they are saved from becoming fixed objects, cultural bric-a-brac. You could compare Dylan’s fluidity to the often bewildering metamorphoses that stage directors impose on Wagner operas—variations that the composer may not have explicitly desired but that the works themselves seem to demand, not least because of their dreamlike sense of time and space.

 

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On 10/13/2016 at 0:48 PM, kfw said:

The Nobel for literature is supposed to go to "the most outstanding work in an ideal direction." Dylan's work, the Nobel committee says, fits the bill "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." I can't think of another contemporary songwriter who can match him, and match him in quantity of output, in that regard. 

 

 

I don't think I'd ever read the actual criteria -- thanks for posting it here.  If this is indeed what they are looking for, I can see how they would consider Dylan for this award.

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I think many of us were surprised, but, I think, Dylan has always seen himself more as a poet than a songwriter.

With all due respect, he’s mistaken, IMO, although I agree that his lyrics come first. But those are lyrics, not poems (and I can’t say that what I’ve seen of Dylan’s attempts at actual poetry showed me much).

Normally I’m not displeased to see Philip Roth snubbed by the Committee, but this year one could hardly blame him if he’s rolling his eyes into the next county.

Can’t wait for Joni Mitchell’s reaction.

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I ran across this quote in The Guardian -

 

Salman Rushdie:
"We live in a time of great lyricist-songwriters – Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits – but Dylan towers over everyone. His words have been an inspiration to me ever since I first heard a Dylan album at school, and I am delighted by his Nobel win. The frontiers of literature keep widening, and it’s exciting that the Nobel prize recognises that. I intend to spend the day playing Mr Tambourine Man, Love Minus Zero/No Limit, Like a Rolling Stone, Idiot Wind, Jokerman, Tangled Up In Blue and A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall."

 

The real issue for many, is that there is just the one Award for Literature each year, and there are so many talented artists working with language that deserve some recognition. Fortunately, very few artists work with a Nobel prize in mind. Maybe Hemingway got that idea into his head, he was that type of personality, but few of the best artists mention worrying about awards.

 

I tend to like the more 'psychedelic' songs of Dylan - here is a lesser known gem from the middle years (as sung by Judy Collins):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5WIdaDTvE4

 

"They tell me to be discreet for all intended purposes,
They tell me revenge is sweet and from where they stand, I’m sure it is.
But I feel nothing for their game where beauty goes unrecognized,
All I feel is heat and flame and all I see are dark eyes."

Edited by pherank

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Thanks for the link, pherank. I'd never heard that version. Patti Smith has famously sung the song with the man himself. 

 

As happy as I am that Dylan won, I’ve always been torn about whether his work should be called poetry. It’s true most of his lyrics aren’t great without music, but on the other hand, he does supply that music. Taken alone, his lyrics aren’t great literature. Taken as they’re meant to be, however, they do have the force of great literature. In the Washington Post, nine poets - Edward Hirsch, Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Juan Felipe Herrera, August Kleinzahler, Nick Flynn, Mary Karr, Terrance Hayes, and Yusef Komunyakaa – all explicitly or implicitly defend this year’s choice. Of course that isn’t to say there aren’t many poets who would not.

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1 hour ago, kfw said:

As happy as I am that Dylan won, I’ve always been torn about whether his work should be called poetry. It’s true most of his lyrics aren’t great without music, but on the other hand, he does supply that music. Taken alone, his lyrics aren’t great literature. Taken as they’re meant to be, however, they do have the force of great literature. In the Washington Post, nine poets - Edward Hirsch, Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Juan Felipe Herrera, August Kleinzahler, Nick Flynn, Mary Karr, Terrance Hayes, and Yusef Komunyakaa – all explicitly or implicitly defend this year’s choice. Of course that isn’t to say there aren’t many poets who would not.

 

The Nobel committee was very careful in their wording, at it basically skirts the whole "Is it poetry?" question by speaking to something perhaps larger, and more abstract:

"for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition"

 

"Poetic expressions" could entail a great many things, and yet people do tend to understand what is being referred to. That's the interesting part.

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The award has indeed been generally very well received (the NY Times hasn't been this gaga about an entertainment story since Hamilton).  And some writers have been sympathetic to the Committee's difficult decision:

Quote
Gary Shteyngart @Shteyngart Oct 13

I totally get the Nobel committee. Reading books is hard.

 

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No word of acknowledgement from Mr Dylan quite yet. 

 

Quote

Anders Barany, a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, recalled that Albert Einstein snubbed the academy after being awarded the physics prize in 1921.

In 1964 French writer and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre refused the literature prize outright.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/oct/22/bob-dylan-criticised-as-impolite-and-arrogant-by-nobel-academy-member

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I have no idea what other reaction they expected. I'd be rather pleased at this point if he blew them off entirely. Serve 'em right.

 

 

 

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Latest update from the NYT:

 

'Bob Dylan, who last month said he would not attend the Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm because of “pre-existing commitments,” has delivered a speech that will be read on his behalf, the organization behind the awards said on Monday.
In a Twitter post, the organization, the Swedish Academy, also said that Patti Smith, the musician and writer, will perform one of Mr. Dylan’s songs, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” as a tribute.'

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Not long to go now - it seems certain that he will not attend at any rate. Must admit that I am rather sick of the whole affair, first I think that the Academy made a totally ridiculous choice, there are so many other very worthy candidates around, and secondly I think that Dylan is ill mannered and rude.

 

Nevertheless, I have invited a good friend, we are going to have a good dinner and some good wine and I will report. 

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2 hours ago, Pamela Moberg said:

Not long to go now - it seems certain that he will not attend at any rate. Must admit that I am rather sick of the whole affair, first I think that the Academy made a totally ridiculous choice, there are so many other very worthy candidates around, and secondly I think that Dylan is ill mannered and rude.

 

Nevertheless, I have invited a good friend, we are going to have a good dinner and some good wine and I will report. 

 

We look forward to reading your report - enjoy!

Mr. D was ill mannered and rude when he was 20 years old, and that hasn't changed one bit over the years. I'm sure the Academy went into this with eyes wide open.

There have been so many artists with odd personalities that I don't find it worth thinking about when viewing/reading/listening to their work. It's the art that is important to me. If the work transcends the artist, then there's one criteria satisfied to call it good or great art.

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A new NYT article has some interesting things to say about the Dylan controversy:

 

Dylan, Polite? It Ain’t Him, Babe

http://http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/arts/bob-dylan-nobel-prize-sweden.html

 

"Mr. Dylan’s absence, however, does seem consistent with his general approach. “He’s behaved so strangely for so many years that if he would show up now and be cheerful and pleased, you’d be surprised,” said Daniel Sandstrom, the literary director at the publisher Albert Bonniers. Also, he said, Mr. Dylan’s politeness (or not) should have no bearing on whether he deserves to win the prize. “It would be very bad to award it just to nice people,” he said."

 

Dylan has been a thorn in the side of 'the Establishment' for approximately 65 years, so it's interesting how many people continue to feel he should be changed, and humbled, by the various accolades he receives. But it's been pretty clear that awards don't mean a great deal to him.

 

 

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18 hours ago, pherank said:

but it's been pretty clear that awards don't mean a great deal to him.

 

I'm not sure that's true, pherank. He seemed pretty thrilled to win a Grammy for Time Out of Mind, and he gave a long speech last year when he won the Musicares award. But who knows. Anyhow, the Wall Street Journal quoted a "distant cousin" of his last week who

 

Quote

remembered Mr. Dylan behaving similarly during a Thanksgiving dinner he shared with Mr. Dylan's family [in Duluth] in the 1950s. "I don't believe he came out of the basement."  

 

Ill-manned and rude indeed, I'm sorry to say. I can understand him feeling uncomfortable and award as big as the Nobel, but there were other ways of handling his discomfort. Bravo to Patti Smith.

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On 12/7/2016 at 6:23 PM, pherank said:

 

We look forward to reading your report - enjoy!

Mr. D was ill mannered and rude when he was 20 years old, and that hasn't changed one bit over the years. I'm sure the Academy went into this with eyes wide open.

 

 

Yes, I'm afraid things haven't changed much with the years. I doubt they expected this, but they should have done.

 

Too bad, because as the article points out it's not going to be the turn of the U.S. again for several years at least. At least this may reduce the chance of the lit award going to any other rock stars in future......

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i doubt the Committee would be put off of rock stars because one of the most famously private and mysterious didn't show up. In any case, his gracious, if not exactly intellectually ambitious, acceptance speech is here.

 

 

 

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I thought the speech was, in its way, a clever riposte to people unhappy with Dylan getting the prize.

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