The Nobel Lecture
By Bob Dylan
Simon & Schuster – £9.99
It ought to go without much saying or convincing, that Bob Dylan never really ceases to both surprise and confound.
That he has always subscribed to the following of his own star, is one thing. That he has always continued to do so by fundamentally, not to mention inexorably and totally doing his own thing – regardless of what anyone else thinks, wants or believes – is surely just one of the facets which accounts for his undeniable genius and longevity.
Lets face it, the current US President Donald Trump, is essentially doing his own thing; but he’s an utterly vile and soulless, talentless, racist idiot of the first degree. Reason I mention this is because there does have to come a point where doing one’s own thing is, and has to be accounted for – especially within the bigger picture. And so far as the bigger picture is concerned, Dylan has been around long enough to idiosyncratically garner and warrant far more chutzpah induced respect, than say the likes of Trump, who’s a similar age, could ever muster in another hundred thousand lifetimes.
Moreover, it’s no surprise Dylan hardly gave too much of his own game away during his (eventual) acceptance speech upon receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016 (in Stockholm, Sweden): ”When I received the Nobel Prize for literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature. I wanted to reflect on it and see where the connection was. I’m going to try to articulate that to you. And most likely it will go in a roundabout way, but I hope what I say will be worthwhile and purposeful.”
The Nobel Lecture is a cute and altogether concise little book of a mere 23 pages, which captures Dylan’s speech in its entirety; wherein he regales his admiration for Buddy Holly and Leadbelly, along with three books of clearly profound and major influence: Moby-Dick, The Odyssey and All Quiet On The Western Front.
All three of which he touches on in such a way as only Dylan can, although it is the latter, which to my mind at least, lends a whole lot of gravitas to a great deal of his early work in particular: ”Who knows how long this mess will go on? Warfare has no limits. You’re being annihilated, and that leg of yours is bleeding too much. You killed a man yesterday, and you spoke to his corpse. You told him after this is over, you’ll spend the rest of your life looking after his family. Who’s profiting here? The leaders and the generals gain fame, and many others profit financially. But you’re doing the dirty work. One of your comrades says, ”Wait a minute, where are you going?” And you say, ”Leave me alone, I’ll be back in a minute.” Then you walk out into the woods of death hunting for a piece of sausage. You can’t see how anybody in civilian life has any kind of purpose at all. All their worries, all their desires – you can’t comprehend it.”
Indeed, it is exceedingly hard to comprehend.
Just as it is almost impossible to come to terms with what’s currently going on in the US and UK today. That said, The Nobel Lecture does a terrific job in shedding a tiny shred of light upon one of the most pertinent, inquisitive and brilliant minds the world has ever known.
It it any wonder Bob Dylan received the Nobel Prize for Literature?