Forever Young: A Brief History Of Bob Dylan

Whether Bob Dylan is regarded as a remarkable songwriter or whether he should share the distinction of a poet has been a longstanding debate. Interestingly, the Swedish academy resolved to award the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature to Dylan ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.’. It is almost an echo of the Special Citation that Dylan was awarded by the 2008 Pulitzer Prize committee for his colossal impact and influence on the popular culture in America. However, what stood in the Pulitzer Prize citation was the inclusion of the phrase ‘lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.’

Dylan has been variously referred to in the past and present as being, ‘The voice of a generation’ and ‘music’s poet laureate’. Dylan has, however, be persistently indifferent to any such appellation and, as he declared in his speech at the Nobel Prize Acceptance Banquet, he had never contemplated whether he was more of a poet or a songwriter; if he creates music or if he creates literature? Nevertheless, it is evident from this speech that he wholeheartedly accepts the consequent judgment.

Considered one of America’s greatest gifts to popular culture, Bob Dylan transcends the boundaries of time and space, language, and society. Born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Minnesota in 1941, his talent for music and lyrics flourished early. While in College he adopted the stage name Bob Dylan that has now become a symbol and a genre of its own. Inspired by early rock and roll icons such as Elves Presley and Little Richard, he wrote songs at an astonishing speed throughout his early days.

He started active touring only in the mid-1970s, but the highlight of his career came in 1988 with the commencement of the aptly titled Never Ending Tour. He spent the entirety of the 1990s and 2000’s touring extensively, average a hundred performances in a year. In 2016 the Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature to Dylan ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition’, effectively cementing his name in history as not only as a great figure in American music but also cementing his name as an accomplished man of letters. Bob Dylan’s legacy is vast and magnificent, and He remains today an icon for the world, an inspiration to millions and an institution unto himself – a man Forever Young.

07 July 2022
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