Of course words are important than tunes in Dylan-verse. But his live concert was underwhelming where no one could neither follow tunes nor words.
Does it matter that Dylan wins a Nobel prize for literature? Well, it surely does. The question is how much? The prize hasn’t been non-controversial. There is always something to complain about. So at least they are consistent with that. The Swedes have been obsessed with Dylan for a while.
Personally, i have gone through a lot of ups and downs as a Dylan fan.
I was introduced to his songs without music first. “How was that?” you ask. Well, newspapers were generous in using his lyrics as headlines for random features. Travel articles quoting or generously using ‘Like a Rolling stone’ and ‘Blowing in the wind’ are endless, just look it up.
Ironically, his lyrics seem to be a lot more useful to journalists than any other community. Since past few decades shoving a microphone into someone’s face after an incident or event, asking ‘How does it feel?’ has been everyone’s favourite question. Even after wars, demonstrations, crisis, natural calamities or performances the question remains, ‘How does it feel?’
I learnt it the hard way not to get too attached to Bob Dylan’s tunes. His music has been all about lyrics they say. After a lot of hoopla and heartburn, we made it to a Bob Dylan concert in Germany. The hall was full of people in their 50s and 60s. We were the only ones in late 20s at the time. Thankfully, there was a Mark Knopfler opening the show and he saved it by calling Elvis. There was no chance we understood anything that Dylan croaked on the stage.
We were there for the words. so was everyone else. Whoever has been to a Dylan concert in recent years might tell you how it is difficult to sit through even fifteen minutes of that. Especially because he refuses to stick to his own compositions. The lyrics in his own voice are beyond comprehension now. He insists on singing songs in different, random tunes, teasing the listener, as if challenging the listener. Of course words are important than tunes in Dylan-verse. But his live concert was underwhelming where no one could neither follow tunes nor words.
People still pay to see him croak his way through endless tours. He is a maestro refusing to give up gracefully. Now that he even has a Nobel prize, hopefully he will retire. I secretly think the Nobel committee also sat through his recent concert and decided to present him this award so he would stop singing and does what he does the best, write songs or just enjoy the beauty he has already created.
The night his Nobel was announced, he was playing in Vegas. Interesting how pop culture seems to have longed for the approval from the high brows or may be the intellectuals have had this hidden need to be popular all along.