By Bob Dylan
New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2008
ISBN # 978-0-393-07617-2
95 pages



By Bob Dylan
London: Music Sales Limited, 2012
ISBN # 978-184772-677-3

144 pages

Bob Corbett
November 2016

It was a great surprise for me when a few days ago it was announced that Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for 2016. Shocking as it may be to any who come across these notes, I know virtually nothing of Bob Dylan. I do remember hearing the song “Blowin in the Wind” and perhaps a couple other songs, but I couldn’t name them. I was just never really much into folk music, though my life’s time frame is about the same as Dylan’s.

Dylan is just two years younger than I. Further, in the 1960s through the 80s I was quite active in various political movements in which his music, if not his person, were frequently heard and celebrated. I was just never really interested in his folk music.

So, since I have read and commented in my book review page on every one of the 114 authors who have until now won the Nobel Prize for Literature I decided to see if I could find some books of his songs and simply read them AS LITERATURE and comment on them as I might other works of Nobel literature prize winners. I think it’s a rather odd thing to do, and perhaps unsuccessful in offering any comments worth making, but I thought I’d give it a try in order to keep my “record” of commenting on every Nobel Prize winner in Literature intact.

It isn’t even clear at the time I am writing these notes as to whether Dylan will accept the Nobel Prize or not [note, he did later decide to accept the prize], it is not yet known what response, if any, he will make to the announcement and award.

I selected two books which have the lyrics of quite a few of his songs. I tried to read them as poetry, not as “songs,” I wouldn’t quite know what that even means and am definitely not capable of dealing with the lyrics as poetry, it just isn’t working for me. However, I have read a great deal of poetry and written about many poets in the set of comments that are on my web page. Thus, I just want to be upfront to anyone who comes across these notes and comments: I was just reading the words of these songs as poems, and not as songs or music.

Perhaps one of the most satisfying “poems” (again, I’m trying to look at these song lyrics strictly as poetry) is “Blowin’ in the Wind.” While it is a very sad poem it is quite insightful and pleas the case for a greater understanding of hardships and mystery even if there is no real solution to the problems and difficulties one is suffering. Even then, the song pleads, we can become more sensitive and sympathetic. I am much impressed with the powerful content of this short poem.

However, for much of the others, and I did read two “song books” of his poems (lyrics to songs), I just couldn’t take them very seriously as Nobel Prize quality poetry.

Bob Corbett


Becoming Reading Thinking Journals


Bob Corbett