Thursday, 13 October 2016

The poet laureate of rock n' roll

We live in a fallen world. That's a sentence that makes sense even if you're not religious. Religious language is sometimes needed to express truth, even if truth is not what religion says it is. Few people have expressed this particular way of apprehending the world as well as Bob Dylan. Here are some of his most pregnant and memorable formulations:
I hear the ancient footsteps...
Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there.
Other times it’s only me.

The cards are no good that you’re holding, unless they’re from another world.
There’s no exit in any direction, ’cept the one you can’t see with your eyes.
One of the things that make Dylan an unforgettable experience is his meanness, his roughness or toughness, which is also a loneliness - the loneliness of a person trying to live in a fallen world without being swept away by depravity, without following others, without asking anyone else's opinion. This is also meanness towards oneself, an impatience with admirers, with recognition and with honors. His skill in giving voice to this meanness in his text is enough to make him one of the greatest poets I know. Here are a few more sentences, which I'll leave as they are, without context. Some are from his songs, others from interviews. They seem to work well that way, conveying the loneliness of their author, standing on their own, without help from others.
All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie. 
I think that this world is just a passing through place and that the dead have eyes and that even the unborn can see and I don’t care who knows it.

You always got to be prepared, but you never know for what.

Be kind because everyone you’ll ever meet is fighting a hard battle.
One more thing before I end. Many people seem to think he shouldn't have been awarded the Nobel Prize. Maybe they're right. But not because he doesn't deserve it. What would he do with the prize? He probably won't appreciate it. He'll always respect "the hearts and the hands of the men who come with the dust and are gone with the wind" far more than he respects the Swedish Academy. But even without the prize, he would be a hero of literature. He connects up with the roots of literature. If we think Francois Villon is a great poet, Dylan should be thought of as one as well.

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