The Interesting Side-Effect of Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize

As I’ve mentioned here many times, I’m a huge Bob Dylan fan. I’m delighted that he won the Nobel Prize. I’m not actually surprised; I knew he had been nominated for the past ten years, and I actually called it on Twitter a few minutes before the prize was awarded, and also in a Facebook discussion a few days earlier. (I only wish I had placed a bet on him winning the prize…)

I’ve been seeing some interesting discussions on Facebook, where I take part in a number of groups about music and musicians. Lots of people are asking who could be the next songwriter or lyricist to win the Nobel Prize?

First, I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon. Dylan’s prize has certainly opened the door to more lyricists being nominated, just as the 2015 prize to Svetlana Alexievich opened the door to journalists, but that doesn’t mean that the Swedish Academy is going to reward songwriters often. And even if they did, they would certainly not all be people who write in English.

But there’s a lot of discussion about whose lyrics are Nobel-worthy. And I think that’s a good thing. I’ve always felt that lyrics are important, at least for certain types of songwriters. I think a subset of music fans, at least among those who are interested in literature, are going to pay more attention to the words of the songs they listen to.

People have been tossing out names such as Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison, John Lennon, even Pink Floyd. I don’t think any of those artists come anywhere near Bob Dylan, at least as far as their lyrics are poetry. But it’s great that this discussion is taking place. I would expect to see a few more lyricists getting nominations for the prize in the future.