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Dylan's Nobel speech: songs only need to move you, not make sense


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Dylan's Nobel speech: songs only need to move you, not make sense

REUTERS

 

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U.S. musician Bob Dylan performs during day 2 of The Hop Festival in Paddock Wood, Kent on June 30th 2012. REUTERS/Ki Price/File photo

 

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Nobel prizewinner Bob Dylan said on Monday that unlike literature his songs were meant to be sung not read and that they only needed to move people, not to make sense.

 

The Swedish Academy's decision to award last year's prize for literature to Dylan, who had "created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition", was seen by some as slap in the face by some mainstream writers of poetry and prose.

 

In his Nobel lecture, the notoriously media-shy Dylan said: "Our songs are alive in the land of the living. But songs are unlike literature. They’re meant to be sung, not read."

 

"If a song moves you, that’s all that’s important. I don’t have to know what a song means. I’ve written all kinds of things into my songs. And I’m not going to worry about it – what it all means," he said in the speech posted on the Academy's website.

 

Dylan, the first singer-songwriter to win the prize, was silent about the award for weeks after it was announced and he did not attend the prize ceremony and banquet. 

 

Nobel laureates need to give a lecture within six months from the Dec. 10 award ceremony in order to receive an 8-million-crown ($900,000) prize sum. It does not necessarily need to be delivered in Stockholm.

 

In his lecture, Dylan tells how Buddy Holly and a Leadbelly record transported him as a teenager into an unknown world, and he discusses three of his favourite books: Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front and The Odyssey.

 

"The speech is extraordinary and, as one might expect, eloquent. Now that the lecture has been delivered, the Dylan adventure is coming to a close," Swedish Academy secretary Sara Danius said in a statement.

 

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Louise Ireland)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2017-06-06
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" Nobel laureates need to give a lecture within six months from the Dec. 10 award ceremony in order to receive an 8-million-crown ($900,000) prize sum. It does not necessarily need to be delivered in Stockholm. "

 I knew it! He did his entire career only for the money! Protest? Maybe protest not getting paid enough! (Joking, by the way....)

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I was a big Dylan fan in the 1960s, and many of his songs really moved me even if they didn’t make any sense, so I guess he was successful according to his intentions quoted above. 

 

Was his Nobel Prize for Literature appropriate?  I don’t know, and I certainly understand much of the controversy around it.  However, his early protest songs were powerfully influential.  “Blowin’ in the Wind”, for just one, was iconic. 

 

I had collected and listened closely to all his albums up through 1966.  “Blond on Blond” was the last album I ever bought, as I lost interest in those that followed it.  Later I was given “Blood on the Tracks” (1975) and liked much of that.  Dylan’s songs gave me some great memories, e.g., “Girl from the North Country.”  I’m grateful. 

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I am a 64 year old Aussie. I never liked Robert Zimmerman during the sixties. The nasal twang did nothing for me.

Then I started seeing the name Dylan on many of the sleeves of hit songs sung by others purchased by me and friends.

After loving "All along the Watch Tower" performed by Hendrix and once again seeing the Dylan name  as the writer, I started purchasing the albums.

And loved them. You get used to the twang after a while. I love listening to his original songs, and then listening to others that made the songs popular.

I am glad Dylan has received a huge award to reward his writing and singing career. It is about time. 

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Bob Dylan was the inventor of the deliberately blurred but carefully chosen word ! When you listen to a song and can clearly understand every word, then the mystery of that particular piece of music is over, you know it all, but when you cannot quite get the drift 100%,  you listen again and again looking for the profound. Dylan was the master, and also sang his songs better than anyone else. 

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16 minutes ago, phantomfiddler said:

Bob Dylan was the inventor of the deliberately blurred but carefully chosen word ! When you listen to a song and can clearly understand every word, then the mystery of that particular piece of music is over, you know it all, but when you cannot quite get the drift 100%,  you listen again and again looking for the profound. Dylan was the master, and also sang his songs better than anyone else. 

I have tried to form some coherent thoughts and words to respond to your post.

 Mostly I agree with you.

I have listened to very early blues and informal protest songs and so I disagree that Dylan invented blurred words to cover a meaningful "chosen word".

That he was a master of it is beyond dispute.

I also disagree about the singer of his own songs is "better" than anyone else. 

Some other artists put a new nuance on some songs and sing it better. Examples of this are of course "All Along the Watchtower".

Both renditions are brilliant but the Hendrix guitar work makes this tune unforgettable. 

Others are Melanie Safka singing the Rolling Stones "Ruby Tuesday". As a one eyed Stones lover, you have to give credit where credit is due.  

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10 minutes ago, Grouse said:

https://bobdylan.com/songs/subterranean-homesick-blues/

 

Just read this and all becomes clear!

 

"The pump don't work 'Cause the vandals took the handles"

 

I'll bet Shakespeare wishes he wrote that! 

It is one of the genius works by Dylan.

The fact that this old bodied but young minded Aussie understands almost all of this song (work of art) says a lot about his song writing and poetic genius. 

 I know what was being mixed up in the basement, drug pushers still do this to create speed.

 I know about the underground "weathermen".

 And the vandal in the WH has stolen the handles.

 His prose is just as pertinent today as it was in the 60's, 70's and 80's . 

He deserved this award and a lot more.

 I have seen many of his performances "live" in Australia during the 90"s and early 2000's. Mostly incomprehensible, but a buzz to see him.

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2 hours ago, spiderorchid said:

It is one of the genius works by Dylan.

The fact that this old bodied but young minded Aussie understands almost all of this song (work of art) says a lot about his song writing and poetic genius. 

 I know what was being mixed up in the basement, drug pushers still do this to create speed.

 I know about the underground "weathermen".

 And the vandal in the WH has stolen the handles.

 His prose is just as pertinent today as it was in the 60's, 70's and 80's . 

He deserved this award and a lot more.

 I have seen many of his performances "live" in Australia during the 90"s and early 2000's. Mostly incomprehensible, but a buzz to see him.

Never had the privilege of seeing him live. His music punctuated my student life in the early 70s though. Lay Lady Lay; screens please!

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6 minutes ago, Grouse said:

Never had the privilege of seeing him live. His music punctuated my student life in the early 70s though. Lay Lady Lay; screens please!

I saw him live in Western Australia many times when he always topped the bill supported by many fine international and local acts.

In huge sporting arenas (Aussie rules football is played on a huge field) he always attracted large turnouts. Along with the other performers of course. He was careful who was on the play list.

He has always maintained that his songs were never political, protest or meaningful. John Lennon said the same in his Beatles era.

So a very modest musical genius. 

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