American legend Bob Dylan was awarded the prestigious Nobel Literature prize, a first for a songwriter
Stockholm: American music legend Bob Dylan yesterday won the Nobel Literature Prize, the first songwriter to win the prestigious award in an announcement that stunned prize-watchers.
Dylan (75) was honoured “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” the Swedish Academy said.
The choice was met by gasps and a long round of applause from journalists attending the prize announcement. The folk singer has been mentioned in Nobel speculation in past years but was never seen as a serious contender. The Academy’s permanent secretary Sara Danius said, Dylan’s songs were “poetry for the ears”.
Barack Obama presented Bob Dylan with a Medal of Freedom in 2012. Pic/AP
The Nobel award is the latest accolade for a singer who has come a long way from his humble beginnings from Minnesota. He taught himself to play the harmonica, guitar and piano. Dylan will take home the eight million kronor ($906,000 or 822,000 euros) prize.
Last year, the prize went to Belarussian author Svetlana Alexievich for her documentary-style narratives based on witness testimonies.
The 2016 laureates will receive their awards — a gold medal and a diploma — at a formal ceremony in Stockholm, as tradition dictates, on December 10, the anniversary of the death of prize creator Alfred Nobel. A separate ceremony is held in Oslo for the peace prize laureate on the same day, as the Norwegian Nobel Committee grants that award.
‘The thing about rock ‘n’ roll is that for me anyway it wasn’t enough... There were great catch-phrases and driving pulse rhythms... but the songs weren't serious or didn't reflect life in a realistic way. I knew that when I got into folk music, it was more of a serious type of thing. The songs are filled with more despair, more sadness, more triumph, more faith in the supernatural, much deeper feelings.’
First ever to win Grammy, Oscar and Nobel
Before winning the Nobel for Literature, Dylan won his first Grammy in 1973, and went on to win 12 more, along with 43 nominations. His Oscar came for ‘Original Song’ in 2001 for the movie Wonder Boys starring Robert Downey Jr and Katie Holmes.
Bob Dylan was born as Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota. His parents, Abram Zimmerman and Beatrice “Beatty” Stone, were part of a small, close-knit Jewish community. In his early years, he listened to the radio — first to blues and country stations from Shreveport, Louisiana and later, when he was a teenager, to rock and roll.
He formed several bands while attending Hibbing High School. In the Golden Chords, he performed covers of songs by Little Richard and Elvis Presley. Their performance of Danny & the Juniors’ ‘Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay’ at their high school talent show was so loud that the principal cut the microphone.
The 75-year-old star, began his musical career in 1959, and is best known for ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ and ‘The Times They Are A-changin’ among other works.
He legally changed his name to Bob Dylan in 1962, which is believed to have been inspired by Green Bay Packers legend Bobby Dan Dillon.
Never number one
Though anthems of the anti-war and civil rights movements, the rocker’s songs never climbed to the number 1 spot on the Billboards charts. The closest ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ and ‘Rainy Day Women #12 & 35’ have come is to occupy the number two spot in 1965 and 1966, respectively.
When Dylan signed his first contract with Columbia Records at the age of 20, he was still a minor. According to American laws, it was mandatory that his parents to co-sign it. However, for some reason, he didn’t want that and, hence, convinced record producer John Hammond that he was an orphan.
Brian Tellis, Music industry veteran and RJ
I am huge fan of both Bob Dylan’s writing and musicality. I think the Nobel is extremely well deserved and it’s great that he got it while he is still alive. I have had the privilege of being at one of his concerts and the context he gives even between each song speaks volumes about the man. He is one of the most important singer-songwriters of our times. He is all about telling stories and, more importantly, relevant stories that spoke of the times. His lyrics evolved over the decades, keeping with the changing times.
Irvine Welsh @IrvineWelsh
I'm a Dylan fan, but this is an ill-conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies.
Salman Rushdie @SalmanRushdie
From Orpheus to Faiz,song & poetry have been closely linked. Dylan is the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition.Great choice. #Nobel
Estimated net worth of the singer-songwriter
Dylan has reportedly performed at an estimated 100 concerts a year since 1988, as part of his ‘Never-Ending Tour’