This year, American songwriter Bob Dylan won the Nobel prize in literature for “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” While social media is divided on those who are hailing this bold and different choice, there are those questioning it as well. (Read: Bob Dylan winning Nobel literature prize for 2016 leaves Twitterati divided) The answer, though, can be found the the profundity of the lyrics to his songs, many of which – it is believed – may have even changed the course of history back in the 1960s.
His songs inspired political and artistic movements and protests across America. The songs have been sung in political rallies, becoming anthem for various human and civil rights movements. In fact, his 1964 song, ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ was adopted as United Nations’ unofficial anthem for the Copenhagen climate summit. Dylan wrote many of his songs in response to socio-political changes that took place in the second half of 20th century. For instance, ‘The Times They Are A-Changin” was penned for the people to embrace change because otherwise they’ll either become obstacles or get lost.
“Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
Dylan is, in fact, the first American to win Nobel Prize in Literature since Toni Morrison in 1993 and the first songwriter to have won the prestigious literary award. Sara Danius, permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, said at the news conference, “A great sampler … and for 54 years he has been at it, reinventing himself. An extraordinary example of his brilliant way of rhyming. putting together refrains, and his brilliant way of thinking”.
Here are five songs by Nobel laureate Dylan that made a difference:
Which is your favourite Dylan song? Tell us in the comments below.