But something is happening and you don’t know what it is, Do you, Mr. Jones?


This would be great even if he hadn’t just won a Nobel.

Comments

  1. Feathered Frog says

    Heh. Back in the day, the rumor was that “Mr. Jones” referred to a caretaker/b&g guy/watchman on the Bard College campus. See also “Desolation Row”

  2. Larry says

    Not knowing the protocols of the Nobel Prize committee, shouldn’t the award be given to Robert Zimmerman or has he taken Dylan as his legal name? Also, I assume this award was for a lifetime achievement instead of some recent work. I don’t think Dylan has done much note-worthy for quite a while.

  3. petesh says

    Dylan has done plenty lately. Many of us feel that Love and Theft (2001) and Modern Times (2006) rank with his very best work. Tempest (2012) is more controversial but, in my opinion, even better, and was been the backbone of his continued intensive touring for three years. But, yes, it’s a lifetime award, and the announcement specifically mentioned Blonde on Blonde, which made me happy since it’s been my all-time fave since 1966.

    And his reaction to the award? He played another gig last night. Pretty much the same set he played last weekend at the “Desert Trip” with two notable exceptions: He played guitar (first time in four years; he usually plays keyboards nowadays) on Simple Twist of Fate; and he changed the encore to Why Try to Change Me Now?

    Reports from the audience say he seemed happy.

  4. taraskan says

    This is weird and a little embarassing, but I didn’t even know he was still alive. I’ve only ever heard his songs discussed in the context of the 1960s-70s, which I wasn’t around for.

  5. ChasCPeterson says

    Thank you petesh @#4.
    It’s also worth noting that Dylan’s been touring more or less consistently since like 1988. No bullshit Farewell, Reunion, or Farewell-Really-This Time tours for him. If you want to hear the music he feels like playing these days, you can. I saw him last in maybe 2011 at Jones Beach and he sounded great. No nostalgia at all, the old tunes completely re-worked (again).
    But of course, it’s a literature prize so it’s for his writing, not performing. I’ve read* that in his early/mid-60s heyday he wanted to be a writer instead; he envied successful writers and spent a lot of time banging away on a portable typeriter (some has been published). So I bet he is happy.
    I’ve had the CD changer on a steady diet for a day and a half and in addition to all the classics and the recent gems mentioned by petesh, I have to admit enjoying Infidels and Real Live a lot.

    *Positively 4th Street by David Hajdu

  6. ChasCPeterson says

    btw, while Bob played Vegas, Sir Paul McCartney played to a few hundred people in a well-known roadhouse here in the Mojave Desert.

  7. petesh says

    Good for Paul! And Dylan’s current band is superb. I’ve got a recording of last weekend’s gig and my actual complaint is that the vocal is mixed too high. And I LIKE his voice.

  8. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    It’s official: song lyrics are literature.

    Obama won the prize for peace before he ever created peace, so I think it’s perfectly reasonable for Dylan to win the prize for literature before he creates literature.

    And I’m looking forward to winning the Nobel for math next year.

  9. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @10:

    It’s official: song lyrics are literature.

    They certainly can be. Loreena McKennit has done an excellent job of putting Shakespeare and Tennyson to music, but neither of those blokes could win, being dead and all.

    There are living folk who, IMHO, have written lyrics that are bloody good poetry/literature. I’d put, at the very least, Joni Mitchell, Stephen Sondheim, Ian Anderson, and Tom Waits miles ahead of Dylan.

    And of course, all of this is ignoring people who actually write literature in the usual sense (novels, short stories, poetry). Like Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, who I’d never heard of until I looked up other contenders. I guess Dylan needs the exposure.

  10. John Morales says

    Rob Grigjanis, indeed. Why get hung up on categories?

    (I wonder if a neurochemist will some day get the Prize for physics; after all, neurochemistry certainly can be physics!)

  11. ChasCPeterson says

    Of course, some song lyrics are more literaturey than others.
    By the same token, stuff like ‘Gates of Eden’ or ‘It’s Alright Ma’ or ‘Desolation Row’ are less songy than other ‘songs’.
    I heard the Nobel committee had compared Dylan to Homer and Sappho, to which I of course replied wtf?, but they meant only that all of their work was created to hear orally, not to be read. And I guess them Greeks count as Literature.
    I heard David Crosby say that our greatest living songwriter was “Joni Mitchell; well, it’s her or Old Weird Bob.”

  12. chigau (違う) says

    Chas

    I heard David Crosby say that our greatest living songwriter was “Joni Mitchell; well, it’s her or Old Weird Bob.”

    well
    uh
    I agree

  13. Rob Grigjanis says

    Chas @14: I like a lot of Dylan’s songs, but as poetry they’re trite and sophomoric. Aeschylus and Joni kick his arse. It’s all about Baby Boomer wankery, not quality of writing.

  14. John Morales says

    Rob Grigjanis @16, you’re now disputing the relative merits of his election.

    That something may be trite or sophomoric is no indication of its cultural merit.

    (Perhaps the times, they are a-changin’)

    It’s all about Baby Boomer wankery, not quality of writing

    <snicker>

    Because literature is all about the quality of the writing, not about its significance — and any writing that’s Baby Boomer wanker could not be quality writing?

    In passing, I’m not Mr Jones, but I too have no idea what the point of the featured song is.

    (Such a philistine, I, who doesn’t appreciate the evident culture of such a work)

  15. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @17:

    you’re now disputing the relative merits of his election.

    I already did that in #12. Keep up, man!

    That something may be trite or sophomoric is no indication of its cultural merit.

    I’m a huge fan of the group Yes (1971-1974 anyway), and would highly rate their cultural merit, but I don’t think there’s a Nobel Prize for that.

    Because literature is all about the quality of the writing, not about its significance

    Well, Justin Bieber’s oeuvre is certainly significant on more than one level. The point being?

  16. John Morales says

    Rob:

    The point being?

    The point being that the Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to whoever produced “in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”, not about the quality of the writing.

    (But yes, de gustibus and all that; clearly, what you prefer is not what the Academy prefers)

  17. unclefrogy says

    He has undoubtedly been a significant cultural presence from early in his career so I guess the award is appropriate but I have kind of lost track of what he has been up to for a few years now and not having studied what the committee has awarded in the past I will not form an opinion on his award though I do wonder what he will do with the money.
    his surreal lyrics are often been completely opaque to me any meaning I got from them was from projection on my part.
    Of the older songs that I still elicit an emotional response from me is “Chimes of Freedom”