Bob Dylan has been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, the first songwriter to win the prestigious award, by the Nobel Prize Committee “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said Dylan had been chosen because he is “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition.” Speaking in Stockholm, she said that “For 54 years now he’s been at it reinventing himself, constantly creating a new identity.”
Dylan was on a concert tour in Las Vegas, Nevada, when he heard about the Nobel Prize. However, he made no comment about the award.
The 75 year-old folk and rock music legend took his stage name from the poet Dylan Thomas. His real name is Robert Allen Zimmerman. He was born on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota. He moved to Greenwich Village, New York in 1961 where he worked on his music and poetry career. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. In 2012, President Obama awarded Dylan with the American Presidential Medal of Freedom.
A music reviewer for the BBC said that Dylan “made the lyrics more important than the music.” His lyrics mixed “political questioning, religious exploration and interest in humanity which has been woven through his work for more than 50 years and has secured him this award.” This award “elevates song lyrics to being on a critical par with literature, poetry and playwriting.”
Some of Dylan’s notable song titles from the 1960’s include: “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times, They are A-Changin’.” They are noted as song anthems of the anti-war and civil rights movements. His move away from traditional folk songs and to “go electric” influenced many during the 1960’s. His albums include the 1965 “Highway 61 Revisited”, 1966 “Blonde on Blonde” and 1976 “Blood on the Tracks.” Since the late 1980’s, he has toured continuously. Some people have called his tours as the “Never-Ending Tour.”