“He’s a poet. Basically he’s a poet. He does not trust his voice. He doesn’t trust his guitar playing. He doesn’t think he’s good at anything, except writing—and even then he has self-doubts. Have you heard that thing he wrote about Woody Guthrie? That to me is the sum of his life’s work so far. Whatever happens, that is it. That sums it up.” ~ Eric Clapton on Bob Dylan
Glory Be! The man has gone and done it!
The 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature is such a crowning achievement for our favorite song and dance man. Bob turned 75 this year and is still breaking boundaries as the only singer-songwriter to have ever been awarded this coveted prize.
Aside from my inner fangirl whooping for joy and turning cartwheels at the sheer awesomeness of the whole thing, what I’m most happy about is that perhaps this distinction will inspire the average person to broaden his/her view of what constitutes “poetry.”
Poetry doesn’t have to be esoteric, elitist, abstract or inaccessible. It doesn’t have to live in slim volumes with boring covers. It can be the well crafted lyrics of anthemic compositions that capture the heartbeat of personal and social history through time.
After all, poetry began as an oral tradition, much of it meant to be performed with music. To those who find Dylan undeserving, I would ask that they throw off their cloaks of intellectual snobbery and abandon preconceptions about conventional “Literature.”
“Literature” is not limited to printed novels, plays, or short stories. Talk to me about more than five decades of enormous cultural influence, words of searing truth, crackling inventiveness. Talk to me about enlarging the possibilities of American popular music.
Take the average Joe in a grocery store check-out line. Chances are he’s never read any of the Nobel Prize winning novels, but he’s heard a Dylan song or two.
A song is a poem for everyman.
I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I’ll die like a poet.
Eight years ago, the very first time I hosted Poetry Friday, I asked participants to post their favorite Dylan lyrics. I shared the 8th of Dylan’s “11 Outlined Epigraphs.” He was 22 when he wrote this in 1963:
Yes, I am a thief of thoughts
not, I pray, a stealer of souls
I have built an’ rebuilt
upon what is waitin’
for the sand on the beaches
carves many castles
on what has been opened
before my time
a word, a tune, a story, a line
keys in the wind t’ unlock my mind
an’ t’ grant my closet thoughts backyard air
it is not of me t’ sit an’ ponder
wonderin’ an’ wastin’ time
thinkin’ of thoughts that haven’t been thunk
thinkin’ of dreams that haven’t been dreamt
an’ new ideas that haven’t been wrote
an’ new words t’ fit into rhyme
(if it rhymes, it rhymes
if it don’t, it don’t
if it comes, it comes
if it won’t, it won’t)
no I must react an’ spit fast
with weapons of words
wrapped in tunes
that’ve rolled through the simple years
teasin’ me t’ treat them right
t’ reshape them an’ restring them
t’ protect my own world
from the mouths of all those
who’d eat it
an’ hold it back from eatin’ its own food
for all songs lead back t’ the sea
an’ at one time, there was
no singin’ tongue t’ imitate it)
t’ make new sounds out of old sounds
an’ new words out of old words
an’ not t’ worry about the new rules
for they ain’t been made yet
an’ t’ shout my singin’ mind
knowin’ that it is me an’ my kind
that will make those rules . . .
if the people of tomorrow
really need the rules of today
rally ’round all you prosecutin’ attorneys
the world is but a courtroom
but I know the defendants better ‘n you
and while you’re busy prosecutin’
we’re busy whistlin’
cleanin’ up the courthouse
winkin’ t’ one another
your spot is comin’ up soon
I’ve written about Dylan on this blog more than any other singer-songwriter. Here are three of my favorite posts:
- Bob Dylan’s 74th Birthday Celebration with his meatballs recipe
- Review of “Blowin’ in the Wind” picture book illustrated by Jon J Muth (a link to this post appears on Dylan’s Official Website)
- A Grand Adventure: attending a Dylan concert at the United Palace Theatre in NYC (the closest I’ve ever gotten to him, sitting in the 3rd row with my glow-face and hair blown back)
Time to hear from the man.
Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964.
Official Music Video for “Things Have Changed,” which won the Academy Award in 2001. How many famous actors can you spot?
Celebrate Bob’s Nobel Prize this weekend by making his meatball recipe!
BOOK GIVEAWAY WINNER!
The Alphabet Soup Fiddlers were tickled pink to read so many wonderful comments about Miss Muffet, or What Came After. Nothing like a little poetical theatre to generate excitement and good will.
Thank goodness we were able to avoid yet another winner-picking fiasco. Happy to report we did not have to track down Monsieur Random Integer Generator half way around the world. He was right here, scarfing up the remains of the cottage cheese pie. I will mention that after eating said pie, he was able to play three violin concertos without a slip up. This is really saying something since he couldn’t play the violin before. For an encore, he plucked some pretty good bluegrass.
With music in his heart and cottage cheese between his teeth, M. Generator picked the following winner:
*drum roll, please*
Please send your snail mail address to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com, and we’ll get the book out to you pronto!
Thanks to everyone for entering the giveaway!
The beautiful and talented Irene Latham is hosting the Roundup at Live Your Poem. Stroll over and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere this week!
Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.