Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bob Dylan awarded Nobel Prize for Literature

Mr. Tambourine Man (Live at the Newport Folk Festival. 1964)

Shared to my Facebook page: "Well-written tribute by the editor of The New Yorker. But the links are why I'm posting here, from Newport 1964 to last week. Also audio of a 2001 press conference in Rome."

I hadn't suspected David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, has the exquisite timing of a borscht-belt comedian. But his tribute to Bob Dylan, posted to the magazine's website when it was announced today that Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for Literature, was pitch-perfect. He even tied in an oblique reference to Donald Trump, deftly implying a contrast between the worst in American popular culture and the Swedish Academy's recognition of the best.

The setup:

God is a colossal joker, isn’t She?

We went to bed last night having learned that the Man Who Will Not Go Away was, according to the Times, no mere purveyor of “locker-room talk”; no, he has been, in fact, true to his own boasts, a man of vile action. The Times report was the latest detail, the latest brushstroke, in the ever-darkening portrait of an American grotesque.

And then, as swiftly as a standup comic, the punchline:

Then came the news, early this morning, that Bob Dylan, one of the best among us, a glory of the country and of the language, had won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Ring them bells! What an astonishing and unambiguously wonderful thing! There are novelists who still should win (yes, Mr. Roth, that list begins with you), and there are many others who should have won (Tolstoy, Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Nabokov, Auden, Levi, Achebe, Borges, Baldwin . . . where to stop?), but, for all the foibles of the prize and its selection committee, can we just bask for a little while in this one? The wheel turns and sometimes it stops right on the nose.

Like they say, timing is everything.

Source: David Remnick. "Let's Celebrate the Bob Dylan Nobel Win." New Yorker. Oct,. 13, 2016.

Bonus track (linked to Remnick's post)

A distillation of Dylan at mid-career, with a long, rambling intro that builds into call-and-response with his backup musicians, calling to mind the black gospel tradition, and ends at 5:50 with "Slow Train Coming."

bob dylan speaks to crowd toronto 1980

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