Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize for Literature ; some facts


Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature says nothing about the quality of Dylan’s work and everything about the age, ethnicity and gender of the Nobel Prize for Literature judges.

Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature says nothing about the range and breadth of music that has always been available.

Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature is like your third-rate English teacher at school, trying to look ‘cool’.

Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature says everything about the establishment’s understanding of the appeal of popular music – i.e. it has none.

Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature heightens the gender and race divide between ‘serious’ rock music and ‘disposable’ pop music. (Think Beck winning at the Grammys.)

Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature buys into the myth of authentic rock and inauthentic pop music.

Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature pays lip service to populism, the same way the establishment’s championing of Bob Dylan from the 1960s onwards has always paid lip service to populism while simultaneously serving to put the rest of us Great Unwashed firmly in our place, a slap across the face.

Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature is meaningless but that’s like saying dishwashers are superfluous. Not relevant.

Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature is not a reflection of 2016, and is rather shabby really. Might as well give Trump the Nobel Peace Prize for services to women.

Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature is as dumb as Kurt Cobain being admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Well, it is.

Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature merely serves to reinforce the accepted reading of history, the (illusory) Canon of Classic Rock.

Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature is like David Cameron stating The Smiths are his favourite band.

Why not Nina Simone? Why not Beyoncé? Why not FILL IN YOUR OWN FUCKING NAME?


Dr True, 2016 (my doctorate was earned, not conferred)

I’ve written a follow-up blog entry. 10 Bob Dylan songs you should die before you hear

And if you are interested in alternative narratives… what she said ; 20 songs to deny Donald Trump (and Bob Dylan)

66 Responses to Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize for Literature ; some facts

  1. Justin says:

    This post should be compulsory reading for all music fans

    • Dr. True, you sound far more like a racist than you do a literary critic.

      Bob Dylan was a visionary and a trailblazer and was authentic.

      He was inspirational and a prophet.

      Any very basic understanding of history and of poetry would lay that bare…

      …which you painstakingly demonstrate that you lack.

      • Ian Kemp says:

        I agree whoever this True person is he demonstrates considerable ignorance. He certainly does not do any form of credit to whatever his education was supposed to be about.

      • Joseph Kyle says:

        Lambasting Everett True for not knowing his music history falls flat when you declare you’ve never heard of Everett True….

      • daniel sebold says:

        I wonder what it means to be “painstakingly” lacking in something, say, in one’s knowledge of quantum physics. “I have taken great pains in my lack of knowledge of quantum Physics, as you can well see,” as if we don’t have enough morons in the humanities tossing around meaningless cliches in an attempt to sound erudite.

  2. theword36 says:

    Hmm, not sure I agree. AT ALL!

  3. Geoffrey says:

    Not sure what I think. Nice to see someone interrupt the asskissing fest tho.

  4. John says:

    I’m not sure I could disagree more, but I certainly will try. You’ve presented an interesting challenge.

  5. Alexander says:

    I don’t care how famous you are, there is no sense in what you have written. I’m a young man from a non-English and I found Dylan and I’m amazed with his words, sometimes I would repeat them like a pray over and over again. They are powerful, he really knows how to put a line so it pumps in your blood for years. But you mock him just for the sake of mocking. There is not a single line written by you that can sparkle a human’s heart but here are you – making jokes of a man who can. Just read Sad Lady of the Lowlands again. Do you think that deserves your pitiful sense of humor? You must ashamed of yourself. Maybe you’re mad at the world for something but Dylan is someone you should be looking for, someone you should be caring of. But instead you just cover him with mud.

    • Well, I checked out Sad Lady Of The Lowland. Why the cheap rhymes? Some of them are rhyme triplets: “times,” “rhyme,” “chimes,” “last,” “grass,” “glass’, “lace,” “ace,” “face.” Honestly, that’s middle school doggerel. That’s not serious poetry.

      • Ian Kemp says:

        Again you demonstrate how ignorant you are . Keep it up . you will only confirm your ignorance

        • Ian, going round and round in circles calling people ignorant says nothing. It is as cliche-ridden as Dylan’s doggerel junk art– from a self-important, greedy hippie culture stuck in its own navel. The sad thing about the USA is that its finest musicians are far underrated: Bill Chase, Don Ellis and Maynard–these were real masters of their craft who only offended the far less talented Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchel crowd, a crowd that simply exploited the anti war movement, Bob Dylan even admitted on a Sixty Minutes interview you can find on You Tube . Check out Chase’s album Pure Music on You Tube. No one can touch him and his band and they all died in a plane crash in Iowa on their way to a performance. There can’t be a God

  6. Robert Loggie says:

    Dylan should have won the nobel peace prize as well for the songs of freedom that help unshackle the chains of racism on the american people ie blowin in the wind, ballad of emit till and rubin carter to name a few. Bob Dylan is the greatest poet of the twentieth century and if he don’t deserve this prize then nobody does.

    • Tony Cracolice says:

      You’re stupid. Wallace Stevens, Conrad Aiken, WH Auden, Hart Crane, TS Eliot, WB Yeats, Seamus Heaney, …..the list goes on. Dylan is a fine songwriter.

    • Ian Kemp says:

      Sorry it was for the other person ..I tend to agree with you

    • Blowin In The Wind unshackles the chains of racism? It’s preachy. Archibald Mc Leash in Ars Poetica: A poem should not mean but be. I don’t want to listen to someone preaching to the choir. Read Tim Obrien’s stories about the Vietnam War, The Things They Carried. Nothing preachy in these stories, but when you finish the last thing you will want to do is send your son into war

  7. Dookie Boot says:

    This blog post is idiotic. This is for literature, meaning the lyrics of Bob Dylan. It doesn’t have anything to do with silly-assed internecine rock critic squabbles about pop vs. rock or “Classic Rock Canon” or any of the other things this author is whining about. The reason Beyonce didn’t get the Nobel Prize is that her lyrics are moronic and she had 40 hacks help her write them. LMAO @ Dylan shouldn’t get award because of “gender and race divide.” This is a total non sequitur. Awards are supposed to be based on the merit of the work, not on what imaginary consequences you dream will happen whether someone takes Public Enemy or The Breeders seriously or not.

    Everett True Dream Nobel Prize Committee: “We were going to award Bob Dylan the award this year but we worried about how that would marginalize the lyrical accomplishments of people of color like LL Cool J.”

    You got to be certified.

  8. Alan Dunefsky says:

    He didn’t win it for his music. He won it for his lyrics which apparently most of the people commenting never seriously read!

  9. Anonymous says:

    You dumb

    • He is dumb and stupid, too. Oh, you want to know why. Well, I don’t know why he is dumb and stupid. He is just dumb and stupid. You understand? And he is double dumb just because I say so. So you see how dumb you are, and I love Bob Dylan’s lyrics because, well they are not dumb, because I really love feeling like a rolling stone and I love how times are changing, and how all those Masters of War “hurl” and “throw” their “feelings” out in the same verse, because, hey, Dylan was a great poet.

    • Ian Kemp says:

      What a prat

      • You can do better than that, Ian. Maybe even Dylan can do better than that, though he didn’t when he wrote that horridly preachy song about the Masters Of War. He has even admitted how bad that song was. But you wouldn’t know that. Would you? Grow up.
        Stop the name calling and go back to school. Take a poetry class from a decent English teacher, if there are any left in America

  10. Jan says:

    Fuck of you cunt. He was of our time, the glorious 1960’s, a brother. You are a fuckwit. Fuck off! 😦

  11. dolphy54 says:

    ‘…the (illusory) Cannon of Classic Rock.’

    make that ‘canon’…

  12. Chris Adams says:

    Everett: False.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Everett True is clearly a that type of person who thinks that he is much smarter than everybody else.
    If you ask me – I personally would prefer that Nobel Prize go to Frank Zappa for his wonderfully stupid lyrics – but Bob Dylan is a pretty good choice too. Dylan deserved that.

  14. […] legendary music journalist Everett True emails to say he has written some thoughts on Dylan’s award. They […]

  15. Monika Madjarov says:

    Sounds like sour grapes by the writer….Mr. PhD….

  16. Tom Potter says:

    He spoke for generations. The fact that the Grateful Dead and Beastie Boys thought him worthy of covering/sampling really says something.

  17. […] Shay Stewart Bouley who tweeted about “peak white man music.” Or music journalist Everett True, who pokes fun at the committee: “Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature is like your third-rate English teacher at […]

  18. Dr. Michael D. Brunson says:

    Sir, your opinions are Garbage! How about not sharing? Respectfully, Dr. Michael D. Brunson

  19. […] Or music journalist Everett True, who pokes fun at the committee: […]

  20. Anonymous says:

    I would’ve respected your contrarianism if you had presented some counter examples. Instead your cantankerous curmudgeonry reads as lazy.

  21. Jay "Fatso" Kay-Carson says:

    Everett True writing about the Nobel Prize in Literature is like a literature critic writing about the Grammys.

  22. Jim Jordan says:

    self important horse shit…you certainly do respect, value and enjoy your own opinion…I don’t

  23. The nobel laureates do not represent current trends! When Beckett was awarded the nobel prize in 1969 it was for work done during the war which at that time was old-fashioned.

  24. […] Bouley who tweeted about “peak white man music.” Or music journalist Everett True, who pokes fun at the committee: “Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature is like your third-rate English teacher at […]

  25. Finally, for all those folks who don’t understand modern poetry, or poetry at all, now can site Dylan -not Dylan Thomas, the real poet, of course, because Fern Hill is too dense for them and “Do Not Go Gentle” is too honest. Was Dylan a prophet? We have a low bar for prophecy. Ezekial he isn’t. Dylan sang about what he saw and it wasn’t hard to tell in the early 1960s that all hell was breaking loose. Dylan put some of it in context, but ask yourself, what did Dylan say about the events of the time? When and where did he take a stance on Vietnam? Government power over the powerless? John Lennon said more and it was Dylan who turned him on to marijuana. I saw Dylan first perform in Boston in 1961 at Bob Zimmerman and his grating voice was not a pleasant experience. Years later, Dylan has evolved into a caricature of himself: terse, sullen, pretentious. His work does not have the genius and complexity of a Murakami or my favorite, Don DeLillo who in White Noise says more in one chapter about America than Dylan does in entire work.Pop stars already have every kind of Award Show in the world, Do we need pop stars in the literary world, too? Well, as Uncle Ned used to say, he sure ain’t a Shakespeare, is he?

    • Idle Rich says:

      I read that and I thought – of course Dylan isn’t as complex as DeLillo, he writes songs which are few minutes long, he obviously can’t put the same depth into them as someone who writes hundreds of pages – why bother saying it? But on further thought; you are right, that’s the point – it’s so obvious that it’s barely worth saying but song lyrics can’t compete with books as literature. So this award is just obviously stupid. Simple as that.
      As a further point, song lyrics are supposed to go with music – when written down and read without the music they lose some of their power. If that’s not the case then the musician has failed to make full use of the form. If the song lyrics without the music are not lessened then they aren’t great lyrics.
      Also, I agree that this prize seems to represent some kind of sad attempt at coolness or whatever. That’s not a reason against it, the first point is utterly conclusive on its own, it’s just an observation.

  26. […] Shay Stewart Bouley who tweeted about “peak white man music.” Or music journalist Everett True, who pokes fun at the committee: “Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature is like your third-rate English teacher at […]

  27. […] Shay Stewart Bouley who tweeted about “peak white man music.” Or music journalist Everett True, who pokes fun at the committee: “Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature is like your third-rate English teacher at […]

  28. Nathan Glass says:

    This is probably the worst post I’ve come across on the whole Dylan nobel prize thing.

    Take two of the lines, taken at random (others are similarly idiotic):

    “Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature is not a reflection of 2016, and is rather shabby really.” ~ perhaps with the exception of the Nobel Peace Prize, no Nobel Prizes are intended to “reflect” the year in which they’re given. They’re awarded for a life’s work, the recipient has often done their key work some time ago, and there’s no attempt to be relevant or current or fashionable or whatever. That’s as true of the Physics prize as it is of the Literature prize.

    “Why not Nina Simone? Why not Beyoncé? Why not FILL IN YOUR OWN FUCKING NAME?” ~ Why not you, Dr True? We could send the Nobel Prize committee some of your writing as a nomination for next year’s prize. I wouldn’t hold your breath for a call from Sweden next year though. Despite the “theory” you might’ve read during your doctorate, it’s possible to make robust aesthetic judgments that Dylan has better literary credentials than you, or Beyonce, or FILL IN YOUR OWN FUCKING NAME, without degenerating into some relativistic soup in which everything is equally good/bad.

  29. […] Shay Stewart Bouley who tweeted about “peak white man music.” Or music journalist Everett True, who pokes fun at the committee: “Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature is like your third-rate English teacher at […]

  30. […] Shay Stewart Bouley who tweeted about “peak white man music.” Or music journalist Everett True, who pokes fun at the committee: “Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature is like your third-rate English teacher at […]

  31. Justin Cayce says:

    If you read the article and think at the same time – apparently difficult for many, it seems – you may note that Dr. True confines himself to the stupidity of giving Bob Dylan the award – he says NOTHING against Bob Dylan. And now “one of the Nobel members” ( no name!) is calling Bob Dylan arrogant for not getting in touch with them. However, the article did mention an interesting fact worth quoting, ” …the Nobel committee does not acknowledge refusals, and continues to list its winners whether or not they want the prize…” which is total mitigation for Bob Dylan and places the arrogantness (ok – arrogance) back where it belongs – with the name-callers ( a “member of…”). even the Queen of England will have someone ask you if you want the award, knighthood, etc. before conferring the honor. It is Golden Lemon Award time for the Noble Prize Committee for Supreme Arrogance – and I make my award non-refusable!

    • everetttrue says:

      nicely put

      • Perhaps it would be better if Dylan declined the prize he doesn’t seem to value so that the committee can award it to someone who covets it, like Phillip Roth. I find it curious how other sites that quote from what they consider his “best” songs, are ironically quoting from his worse, the most cliche-ridden, preachy, “I hate you war mongers” kind of songs. You have to look at the behavior of our species in such circumstances and laugh.

        • Ian Kemp says:

          Dear me you again emphasize your ignorance every time you write. It would be best for you to stop as you are making a complete fool of yourself and your pretentions

          • The musicians get enough recognition. The craft of poetry is a brutally tough art, the mastery of scansion, alliteration, assonance, the sound and sense of a poem as opposed to the slop that pop musicians write–you have wonderful poets like Phillip Levine and Tim Obrien. Few have heard of these men. The prize should go to the poets and prose writers who desperately need recognition in our post literate world where the majority of English teachers lack writing talent.

    • HasToBeAJoke says:

      Well, he should. Lets be honest, the guy looks like a dirty old hippie and sounds like a broken bagpipe. Where is the greatness? Show it to me. And I`m a huge music fan, I love all kinds of music but I do not allow Dylan to rape my ears.

  32. HasToBeAJoke says:

    I`m stunned, I thought it was a joke. The Nobel prize is given to people who made a difference in the world. Bob Dylan has spent the last 60 years writing some lyrics, perfecting the art of sounding like a broken bagpipe and looking like a filthy old hippie. And that`s all he has done. Surely there are millions of people more deserving of this prize. Dylan is hyped beyond beliefe, if people take a deep breath and one step back, they`ll see a sad old dirty hippie who sounds like crap. Yeah he wrote a few songs but so what, who cares? Since when did songs change anything.

    • Hey, Dylan doesn’t care. Why should he respect an organization that would give him a literary prize? The Nobel committee is all flustered that he is ignoring them. Good for him. Maybe this will straighten them out for a change.

    • Ian Kemp says:

      What a ignorant person you are . Do not bother making a fool of yourself any more if you can help it.

  33. […] I received a lot of flak recently for a blog entry I wrote around the news Bob Dylan has been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature. […]

  34. Ray Gosselin says:

    The impotent raving of the critic who, unable to do, can only rant against those who can.

  35. […] few people took this question seriously. I think this fact falls under the heading “Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature says nothing about the quality of Dylan’s wo… although of course others may beg to differ. Of course it is absurd to compare the two: […]

  36. […] 2. Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize for Literature ; some facts […]

  37. Mike Robinson says:

    That made me smile. I remember wondering who the hell the judges were and found one was an author with 3 books listed on Amazon – they’d gained a single 3 star review between them – I can only assume from the author’s mother. Nothing wrong with Dylan as a musician but are his lyrics (or music) any better than say Gil Scott-Heron or Sixto Rodriguez? Maybe in a few years the prize will go to Kilroy?

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