STOCKHOLM — The times, they are a’changin’ for Bob Dylan.
The folk music legend just received the Nobel Prize for Literature. At the ceremony, they announced it was for having created new American expressions within the great American song tradition.
Without Dylan, would we ever have talked about people ‘knockin’ on heaven’s door’ or pondered what it means to live ‘like a rolling stone’? Probably not.
But why this honor now, after more than 50 years of music from the mumbling poet?
“Ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe,” he might say, “If’n you don’t know by now.” (“Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”)
“He’s a great poet,” explained Sara Danius who announced the Nobel Prize in Stockholm. “He’s a great poet in the great English language tradition, stretching from Milton and Blake onwards.”
When President Barack Obama gave Dylan the Medal of Freedom — the highest civilian honor in America — back in 2012, many said the rich poetry of his lyrics opened up new possibilities for popular song and inspired generations.
Next month, Sony will release a 36-disc box set of all known live recordings from his 1966 concert tour.
Dylan’s music united people during the tumultuous ’60s, but that was half a century ago. So what took so long to finally give this legend his due? In the immortal words of Dylan, “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”