The stiff and starchy Nobel Prize committee has finally taken off its stuffy shirt and shuffled into the 21st century. Thank goodness. It was getting a bit dreary having not a clue who the winners of the awards were. Ignorance slamming you in the face.
Giving the prize for literature to Bob Dylan was a splendid and valid gesture and those who seem to be unhappy about it and find that a pop singer trivialises the award are talking poppycock. Not only should the Nobel committee recognise talent in music, which pervades our lives, but also in humour and art and sport. And the singer and the song are equally important in every category.
Where would the world be without music? The food of love, for sure, we’d all be poorer for its absence. Thank you for the music for giving it to us. Comfort in times of trouble, enjoyment in solitude, an upliftment of the spirit like nothing else. Why not Pavarotti and Placido Domingo?
What is wrong in pure pleasure?
Think of it. Dylan is not just singing songs; the guy is a poet with a body of work to prove his credentials. His songs have survived the test of time, they have impacted millions and are far more eligible than obscure writers' whose words, though outstanding, don’t even get read.
'Blowing in The Wind' is an all-time classic. By that measure, Lennon’s 'Imagine' on its own deserves an award for its stunning lyrics. If writers are recognised for being lyrical in their prose, why can the lyricists also be acknowledged for grand thought? The Beatles didn’t just sing songs, their music is pure genius and the words of 'Eleanor Rigby' ('wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door') and 'Let it be' will resonate for generations. The claustrophobic despair of Tracy Chapman’s 'Fast Car' and the heartbreaking 'Suzanne' by Leonard Cohen are poetic literature. He anti-establishment statements set to the right chord by Joan Baez live on Neil Diamond, Jimi Hendrix, political campaigners with a message. Peace prize material.
It's time the Nobel prizes became more relevant. The collection of people like Simon and Garfunkel should be contenders. Just 'Bridge over troubled waters' and 'El Condor Pasa' would qualify. Frank Sinatra’s 'My Way' (written by Paul Anka) is no less enlightening or brilliant than any work of literature.
Music is so powerful it touches every bit of our lives. From the depths of grief to the heights of joy, music permeates every part of us. Giving it to Dylan is just getting real and the Nobel Committee deserves credit for waking up and seeing a new world out there. A world in which all the arts and sciences are redefined by our priorities that have undergone a sea-change in a decade rather than 10 centuries.
Adding new categories makes sense. And it is not just English. Take the words of 'Kabhi Kabhi' (Mukesh) or the collection of AR Rahman’s music led by 'Tere Bina' or Shailendra’s 'Ajeeb Dastan', circa 1960, just to arbitrarily name a few.
As it is the annual Nobel ceremony and the strip of announcements of the winners have kind of lost their appeal. We go through the ritual more by habit than from any profound sense of excitement.
Many of us have never heard of the winners, because in many cases they are so obscure it makes no difference to us.
By opening the doors and having a reality check by giving Dylan the award, the decision is a recognition of this new world and creative talent that has been downgraded in its intrinsic genius because it wasn’t seen as serious enough for the Nobel.
Music is literature.
It's time for these categories to have their seasons in the sun, what say you 'Billie Jean'?
First Published On : Oct 15, 2016 14:41 IST