Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature. He's the first songwriter to be awarded the honor. While Dylan is a great songwriter, who influenced many others, why not Lennon/McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Sufjan Stevens or many of the others who use songs to tell great stories, or to make people think about the important issues in life? All of the above have impressive and large bodies of work. Maybe because Dylan is considered the first and because he was adopted as a symbol and spokesman for a generation?
Mr. Dylan, 75, is the first musician to win the award, and his selection on Thursday is perhaps the most radical choice in a history stretching back to 1901. In choosing a popular musician for the literary world’s highest honor, the Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, dramatically redefined the boundaries of literature, setting off a debate about whether song lyrics have the same artistic value as poetry or novels.
Perhaps the most important thing about this award is that they chose a songwriter for the first time. Maybe it will inspire younger songwriters to pay more attention to their lyrics, now that song lyrics have been considered among the best of literature.