Blowin’ in the Wind

I cheered to myself when I heard Bob Dylan was chosen for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Days later, I was crushed when he didn’t accept the honor. His answer is probably still “blowin’ in the wind.” But, OMG, what a missed moment for the arts!

My delight at first was due to the “bravo” given to lyrics as an art form. Dylan was cited “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” That he did! No more a rolling stone, he was elevated right up there with such greats as George Bernard Shaw, Toni Morrison, Harold Pinter and Isaac Bashevis Singer, to name a few Nobel laureates.

Many applauded the concept. Others condemned it. Perhaps they did so because there’s a wall… not the one proposed for Mexico… but the wall between so-called popular art and so-called fine art. As a Dylan and Springsteen fan, I know the joy of a great song. And why not call it literature and poetry? Just because it is accompanied by music doesn’t lessen the melody of the words.

In fact, the Nobel Foundation recognized a much larger concept… one that has to do with labels. There is increasing overlap in the arts, in which painters, sculptors, dancers, musicians and writers are mixing it up, combining multiple disciplines to create new contemporary work, tearing down the walls between artistic mediums. Eliminating boundaries, of course, has made it harder to name things. That may be precisely why some people had a hard time calling Bob Dylan’s work “literature.” As for me, I don’t care what it is called, but “please Mr. Tambourine man, play a song for me.”

(photo credit: Michael Ochs)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,