Err, whut?

Nobel Prize in Literature Awarded to Bob Dylan

I thought everyone knew that literature is the boring shit that everyone hates?

61 thoughts on “Err, whut?”

  1. Oh shit.
    I remember predicting this to my college tutor. And he treated the notion with Olympian disdain.
    Now that I agree that Dylan is (um) a bit boring,,,

  2. I like Bob, but FFS. Will they ever give it to the greatest modern writer, Salman Rushdie? For anyone who hasn’t read his work, go straight to Shame, it is quite brilliant yet more readily read than Midnight’s Children or Satanic Verses. The only one of his books that I have read that I consider average is Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

  3. Bob Dylan. Hee, hee, hee. Hee, hee. Ho, ho, ho.

    It’s a meta-literary comment on O having won the Nobel Peace Prize.

  4. It’s OK, but I just don’t think it’s lyrically that great. He wrote a few songs in the 1960s that really resonated, and are important, but it’s such a Rockist choice. Dylan just ticks all the boxes of people whose records you should own because of what it says about you rather than being legitimately great.

  5. Oh, come on, it’s not that bad. Some of his later work is a little less drearily predictable in its political overtones. Or should i say undertones? I quite like Every Grain of Sand, for one.

    But if it had to be a singer-songwriter, I would have gone for Tom Waits.

  6. I never liked his songs. Seemed like the usual whiny complaints of the comfortably off whining about things that wouldn’t be on the radar of anyone other than someone in a well off country.

    Except maybe that one with the placards in the video.

    Or was that someone else?

  7. “Matthew L

    Billy Bragg next year then”

    Yeah. Billy Bragg.

    “Young people are awesome, old people are shit.

    Vote Labour, Vote Labour, Vote Labour”

  8. There’s that academic (I use the term loosely) who is always pushing the notion that Dylan is a great poet alongside Keats. I think he is probably a more significant songwriter than most you could name. But his autobiography (was it called Chronicles?) is bilge.

  9. @Tim Newman.

    OK. That was alright. But mainly because of the video.

    And that particular trick was done even better in the “my ears are alight” Maxell advert.

  10. I liked Chronicles. Having spent a lot of my teens reading the Beat writers, I thought that was the vibe Dylan was going for, and he did it well enough.

    Not sure he’s a Nobel calibre guy, but looking back over the last few years, why not? He’s better than that mob

  11. I like the fact that the permanent secretary seems to think that Sappho and Homer lived 5000 years ago.

  12. So, some Swedish bloke has gone all retro with his B&O turntable, nipped down to the Oxfam shop and bought a record, then nominated the artist for a Nobel.

    The LP, obviously, was in mint condition…

  13. @ Chris
    “Your point being?”
    Not everyone hates Bob Dylan’s songwriting – the songs sound better when there is someone who can actually sing performing them, but some of them are so good that people bought records even when Bob sang them himself.

  14. The ‘democratisation’ of culture (aka dumbing down) proceeds on its way. It’s part of the Gramscian long march through the institutions, the aim being to undermine the Western canon and replace it with a mass proletarian culture. It’s a prime example of the cultural marxism Ecksy rails against.

    The idea that Dylan bears comparison with Homer or Shakespeare is risible. Only a committee of left-leaning baby-boomers could think otherwise. Dylan is good of his type , I suppose, though I prefer Leonard Cohen. Meanwhile, the chatterati and twatterati will applaud the award. Decadence on this scale is quite hilarious. Er…enjoy, guys!

  15. It’s a shame Counting Cats in Zanzibar has been down recently – I think RAB might have had something entertaining to say on the subject.

  16. Neither of them really being my generation so my knowledge is limited but isn’t Leonard Cohen more worthy?

  17. Theophrastus,

    I wouldn’t exactly describe Dylan as “proletarian”. He’s elitist, but the modern, lefty elite (who don’t even think they’re the elite). If you want a proletariat lyricist (who probably deserve a Nobel more), you’d go for the Sherman Brothers or Stephen Sondheim (I think both are more talented in terms of lyrics than Dylan).

  18. “someone who can actually sing performing them”
    Bryan Ferry’s version of “A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall”
    fits that.

  19. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Dylan has always been much more interesting than the usual parade of cookie-cutter lefty twats like Joan Baez and Pete Seeger (Baez has an amazing voice but is an execrable human being). He actually deviates from orthodoxy in many ways.

  20. “someone who can actually sing performing them”
    Bryan Ferry’s version of “A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall”
    fits that.

    Indeed. So is Lone Justice’s version of “Go Away Little Boy”, although nobody can sing like Maria McKee in her youth.

  21. Matthew L:

    I see you have perfected the Guardian sneer of insubstantial contempt. Meanwhile, the BBC – the broadcasting arm of The Guardian – is creaming itself over Dylan’s Nobel.


    Having defined the proletariat as well as aspiring to lead it, the elite vanguard gets to decide what is true proletarian culture: it’s most certainly not for the proletariat to decide. Our lefty elite agrees that Dylan is Nobel quality, because they know what’s best for us. Dylan is proletarian in their terms, not mine. And I agree about Sondheim.

  22. I bought the Dylan greatest hits, or Dylan for dummies, or something, because I’d heard this was some seminal musician I ought to be more familiar with. I didn’t even get to the end of the CD.

    I swear the guy has a vocal range of about a fifth, plus possibly one sharp. Agree with Andy that he simply can’t sing. I’d personally nominate the late Freddie Mercury, but obviously because I am a racist.

  23. Theophrastus,

    I think of “proletariat” as the stuff the proles like, which the elites are constantly frustrated that they like.

    (and many decades later, you find that the stuff that gets filtered out by history is generally the elite stuff).

  24. BiW

    Why not just use ‘popular’? ‘Proletarian’ has Marxist resonances.

    Elite or popular, what lasts is quality.

  25. @ BiCR
    One of the few thoughful comments.
    I don’t actually think that Dylan deserves a Nobel Prize for Literature, but he *could* write and some comments are all about his voice and/or their prejudices.

  26. The old categories of high and low art disappeared long ago. If a cow and calf preserved in formaldehyde can win the Turner, Dylan can swing it for literature.

  27. I don’t mind his voice, and I quite like his music. But the lyrics – just strings of meaningless words put together possibly under the influence of something stronger than I take of an evening. And as somebody pointed out, he didn’t really have anything to sing about with his comfortably well off status, in a well off country.
    Compare that to his mentor, Woody Guthrie, who had witnessed The Depression and the dust bowl migration, the last period when some white people in America actually starved And who, for a period, lived an itinerant life himself.

  28. Not sure if it’s still the case, but at one time Dylan was supposed to be the most covered artist around, so there are plenty of good versions of his stuff around, there’s even entire albums of Dylan cover versions.
    All along the watchtower and knocking on heavens door being pretty well known ones.
    Barry white did a cover of lay lady lay which is interesting, as is the Neville brother cover of god on our side

  29. I hope everyone knows this is nowhere near the bottom. Next year’s winner will have used only twitter as a medium.

  30. Okay, sure, Joan Baez is a lefty twat.

    But I still like “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” No lefty content in it that I can detect. And plenty of lefties annoyed by it.

  31. Reminds me of a song my school chemistry teacher used to sing at his annual comedy revue

    “Just sing through your nose, and murder good prose, and then you’ll sound just like Bob Dylan
    I said no, no, a thousand times no…”

  32. Ltw – You’ve reminded me of when my headmaster announced that for the first time there would be an end of term concert, which would include the songs of Bob Dailan.

  33. Bernie G,

    “The old categories of high and low art disappeared long ago. If a cow and calf preserved in formaldehyde can win the Turner, Dylan can swing it for literature.”

    No, that’s also elitist art. “Low art” would be if a Pixar movie won the Turner.

  34. So Much For Subtlety

    Baby Boomers remain self-involved sh!ts with no standards apart from their own narcissism. Possibly the worst generation ever.

  35. Hey, after Yasser and Barack, why not Bob Dylan?

    It’s not like anyone takes them seriously.

    Besides, who actually reads the literature of Nobel Prize winners? The only two of the last 20 years that I’ve read have been Pinter and Grass; Pinter is shit and Grass could bore paint off a wall.

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