It was announced today (Oct. 13) that singer/songwriter Bob Dylan, whose body of work crosses genres from folk and country to blues and rock, has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” according to the Swedish Academy, which awards the prize.
Bob is the first American to win the award since novelist Toni Morrison in 1993. The Nobel Prize also includes a monetary award of more than $900,000.
Sara Danius, a literary scholar and the permanent secretary of the 18-member Swedish Academy, called Bob “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition” and drew parallels between his work and Greek poet’s Homer and Sappho, whose work was delivered orally. Asked if the decision to award the prize to a musician signaled a broadening in the definition of literature, Sara jokingly responded, “The times they are a-changing, perhaps,” referencing Bob’s 1964 album, The Times They Are a-Changin’.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville unveiled a new exhibit in March 2015 showcasing the evolution of Nashville music and Bob’s contributions. Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City looks at the Nashville music scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The exhibit focuses mainly on Bob and his decision to record his album Blonde on Blonde in Nashville in 1966. Working with Music Row’s acclaimed session players like Charlie McCoy, Wayne Moss and Kenny Buttrey, often referred to as the “Nashville Cats,” Dylan produced a masterpiece album that is considered among his finest. Bob recorded two more albums in Nashville and later appeared on Johnny Cash’s network television show. Following Bob Dylan’s lead, other artists like Neil Young, Paul McCartney and Leonard Cohen became inspired to come to Music City and record with the famed Nashville Cats. This compelling and informative exhibit runs through Dec. 31, 2016.
photo courtesy Barbara Orbison