On the 13th, in the New Yorker daily posting, a rapidly composed shout of delight from David Remnick (the editor)


(I would have added an exclamation point.) With links to 8 songs and an interview. Plus a quickly sketched cartoon from David Sipress:


Dylan is just about six months younger than I am, which means that at this stage in our lives we are essentially the same age — and that I recall him as he was in our youths:


From Remnick:

[the news that] Bob Dylan, one of the best among us, a glory of the country and of the language, had won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Ring them bells! What an astonishing and unambiguously wonderful thing! There are novelists who still should win (yes, Mr. Roth, that list begins with you), and there are many others who should have won (Tolstoy, Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Nabokov, Auden, Levi, Achebe, Borges, Baldwin . . . where to stop?), but, for all the foibles of the prize and its selection committee, can we just bask for a little while in this one? The wheel turns and sometimes it stops right on the nose.

He went on, and there were more celebrations on the magazine’s site (and on the New York Times‘s site, and elsewhere). Then, coming up in this Thursday’s issue, more still, with this fine stylized cover, by Malika Favre:


The Nobel was for Dylan’s work as poetry, especially its remarkable imagery (so it’s beside the point to note, as some people have on Facebook, possibly with tongue in cheek, that most of his songs are hard to dance to). In his (often evasive) interviews, Dylan has talked about his highly “intuitive” work process: listening to tons of music of all kinds, exploring all sorts of cultural connections, and then the songs just come to you. Well, if you’re Dylan, they do, and you get things like the first verse of “Like a Rolling Stone”:


(Italics to aid in an analysis of the rhyme scheme. By the way, meal gets a rhyme at the ends of all the other verses.) This is one of his simplest, most folksong-like, of his writings, and the imagery is not especially dense, but it’s still satisfyingly complex.

Footnote: Dylan and the Beatles (especially John Lennon) were the main sources for my work on the organization of folk/pop/rock music, in particular:

“This rock and roll has got to stop”, on rhyme in rock music (Chicago Linguistic Society, 1976).

Arnold Zwicky & Ann Zwicky on “Patterns first, exceptions later”  (Channon & Shockey, To Honor Ilse Lehiste, 1986).

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