Jtust four years ago, Dylan accepted the President’s Freedom Medal.
It’s notable that Dylan was cited for his lyrics and music, broadening the definition of “literature” eligible for the award. The Nobel Prize in literature has typically gone to novelists, playwrights, poets and essayists. Often, the writers recognized are both at the top of their creative fields and have work that reflects a social conscience.
In that, Dylan fits, just as he fitted the president’s Freedom Medal… “The Times They Are A’changin’…”
Bob Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Minnesota in 1941. His story — by now well-known — includes traveling to New York, giving himself a new name, and embarking on a career in folk music. He became the voice of a generation with songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changing,” which became anthems protesting the Vietnam War.
Dylan, whose lyrics could sometimes be inscrutable, was restless, however, and shocked his fans by going electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. His wide-ranging career has continued to this day; last weekend he performed at the Desert Trip concert in Indio, and will perform again this weekend.
“My music comes from two places: white hillbilly music — Roscoe Holcomb, stuff like that — and black blues — people like Son House, Charley Patton, Robert Johnson. These are the two elements I’ve always related to best, even now,” Dylan told The Times’ Robert Hilburn in 1978. “Then, all of a sudden in the ’60s, I heard Woody Guthrie, which just blew my mind — what he did with a lyric. So, I stopped everything and learned his songs.”
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