Is rock and roll the new reading? The news that Bob Dylan has been awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature caused controversy and excitement among just about everyone – except the nasally-challenged one himself.
We have to avert our eyes and ears to Dylan’s record of late – some Frank Sinatra cover versions, a woeful Xmas album – and accept that the honour is more of a Lifetime Achievement award covering his anti-war prose of the 1960s.
However, the singing legend seemingly showed little interest when approached to receive the gong, ignoring the calls from the committee, who deemed him “impolite and arrogant” as he even removed mention of the award from his website.
But those who questioned the decidedly left-field choice for a prize more usually given to, well, authors, shouldn’t be too surprised, given that Henry Kissinger once got a Peace Prize while Gandhi didn’t.
Mind you, bearing in mind the awards are about salving the conscience of the people who invented dynamite, we can perhaps expect Donald Trump to get the nod next time round .
To avoid such disputes in future it might make sense to introduce a category specifically for music – but the hapless organisers would probably just give it to Simon Cowell.
Dylan’s recent career trajectory seems to be at odds with other poets, who seem to improve with age. Mind you, Dr John Cooper Clarke has just made an album of crooning ‘standards’ with old mucker Hugh Cornwell from The Stranglers. Ironically JCC seems to have cut down on the actual prose since being awarded a doctorate back in 2013 – putting him in good company alongside Wilko Johnston, who also gained a new lease of life following his cancer ‘cure’. Honoured at the same ceremony was Suzi Quatro, who in vanishing into Countdown’s Dictionary Corner may similarly have come to terms with her own mortality.
In less cheery news, Leonard Cohen recently announced that he was “ready to die”. Fortunately, the world’s most morose songwriter may have simply been getting into character for his next release. The Canadian doom-monger plans to “stick around until 120,” adding “I’ve always been into self-dramatization.”
Another set of pensioners refusing to swap bourbon for Werther’s Originals are the Rolling Stones – although their new album, recorded in the space of three days, is a set of blues classics. To be fair, the band’s whole schtick was pinched from the likes of Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf, so in a way it’s nice they’ll pay tribute to these musical pioneers – and more importantly, cough up those long-overdue royalties.
But despite Keith Richards owing a massive debt to him, there’s no Chuck Berry on the Stones album – meaning that the 90-year-old (Chuck, not Keef) has been forced to get his own album out instead. And he’s even written new material for it – truly a man who could still teach those septuagenarian whippersnappers a thing or two.