Bob Dylan, a rare genius and a most deserving Nobel Prize winner
Perceptions by Gerry Warner
Yes Virginia, there’s some justice left in a Donald Trump world – Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize.
This news hit me like a sledgehammer yesterday. The man that I have venerated since the early 60’s has finally gotten his just dues. When I first heard it on CBC, I fairly whooped with delight.
Good Lord, Creator God you gave us one when we needed it the most. Here we have this crazed bigot running amok spreading hatred, racism and lies, which for a while looked like it might make him President and now a languorous ray of pure sunshine has broken through. The poet that wrote “Blowin’ in the Wind,” the greatest anti-war anthem ever, has been recognized for what he is – a troubadour of truth at a time when we most need that rare commodity.
And to you naysayers who say Dylan is no poet, I say shame on you: "Gonna change my way of thinking, make my self a different set of rules. Gonna put my good foot forward and stop being influenced by fools." And God damn his poetry rhymes, the most powerful and difficult form of poetry. And it’s beautiful, haunting and hurting like that other great singer/poet, Hank Williams: “The guilty undertaker sighs. The lonesome organ grinder cries. The silver saxophones say I should refuse you. The cracked bells and washed-out horns. Blow into my face with scorn. But it’s not that way. I wasn’t born to lose you . . .”
And Dylan speaks truths that are so powerful, yet so obvious, your reaction is why didn’t I think of that: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." Or: "Some people feel the rain, others just get wet." Or; "Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you’d like to act." And the classic: "When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose."
But most of all, Dylan has got guts and the courage to say things that would be unsayable by anyone else. Witness these incredible lines out of “Hurricane:” “All of Rubin’s cards were marked in advance. The trial was a pig circus. He never had a chance. The judge made Rubin’s witnesses drunkards from the slums. To the white folks who watched, he he was a revolutionary bum. And to the black folks, he was just a crazy nigger. No one doubted that he pulled the trigger.”
Who else but Bob Dylan in a nation torn apart by race could get away with using the ultimate racist epithet “nigger?” Dylan got away with it because he did what every poet does – he spoke the truth.
If only we heard it more often!
I could go on, but I think you get my drift. In awarding Bob Dylan The Nobel Prize for Literature, the Nobel Prize Committee made a courageous, thinking out of the box decision. The Swedish Academy congratulated Dylan’s music for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” And all I can say is Amen to that.
I doubt that Donald Trump is a Dylan fan. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he doesn’t know who Dylan is. Trump is kinda ignorant that way. But it’s a dangerous ignorance that can’t do anything but harm to the world. Thank God there’s people like Dylan in the world because he does what every artist, poet, novelist and singer does to some degree or the other.
They speak truth to power, beauty to pain, laughter to sorrow, and most of all, they make us feel good about ourselves and our often miserable world.
Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and life-long Dylan fan and was one of the first in line when Dylan came to Cranbrook.