Bob Dylan was asked to give 25 words on Woody Guthrie, he wrote 1,705 beautiful ones - Listen

The 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature winner

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature today, having "created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

He is undoubtedly a man of words as much as he is a man of music, as typified by this poem ‘Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie’, which he has only read aloud once, reciting it at New York City’s Town Hall in 1963.

Introducing the poem, Dylan told the crowd he had been asked to “write something about Woody...what does Woody Guthrie mean to you in twenty-five words,” for an upcoming book on the singer-songwriter.

He explained that he “couldn't do it - I wrote out five pages, and, I have it here, have it here by accident, actually."

What followed was not a simple eulogy, but a lengthy missive on the necessity of hope, and how it can as readily be found in Guthrie’s music as it can be in religion.

The majority of the poem focuses poignantly on where hope won’t be found however, here’s just a selection (full reading in the video above):

 Cause you can't find it on a dollar bill

 And it ain't on Macy's window sill

 And it ain't on no rich kid's road map

 And it ain't in no fat kid's fraternity house

 And it ain't made in no Hollywood wheat germ

 And it ain't on that dimlit stage

 With that half-wit comedian on it

 Ranting and raving and taking yer money

 And you thinks it's funny

 No you can't find it in no night club or no yacht club

 And it ain't in the seats of a supper club

 And sure as hell you're bound to tell

 That no matter how hard you rub

 You just ain't a-gonna find it on yer ticket stub

 No, and it ain't in the rumors people're tellin' you

 And it ain't in the pimple-lotion people are sellin' you

 And it ain't in no cardboard-box house

 Or down any movie star's blouse

 And you can't find it on the golf course

 And Uncle Remus can't tell you and neither can Santa Claus

 And it ain't in the cream puff hair-do or cotton candy clothes

 And it ain't in the dime store dummies or bubblegum goons

 And it ain't in the marshmallow noises of the chocolate cake voices

 That come knockin' and tappin' in Christmas wrappin'

 Sayin' ain't I pretty and ain't I cute and look at my skin

 Look at my skin shine, look at my skin glow

 Look at my skin laugh, look at my skin cry

 When you can't even sense if they got any insides

 These people so pretty in their ribbons and bows

 No you'll not now or no other day

 Find it on the doorsteps made out-a paper mache¥

 And inside it the people made of molasses

 That every other day buy a new pair of sunglasses

 And it ain't in the fifty-star generals and flipped-out phonies

 Who'd turn yuh in for a tenth of a penny

 Who breathe and burp and bend and crack

 And before you can count from one to ten

 Do it all over again but this time behind yer back

 My friend

 The ones that wheel and deal and whirl and twirl

 And play games with each other in their sand-box world

 And you can't find it either in the no-talent fools

 That run around gallant

 And make all rules for the ones that got talent

 And it ain't in the ones that ain't got any talent but think they do

 And think they're foolin' you

 The ones who jump on the wagon

 Just for a while 'cause they know it's in style

 To get their kicks, get out of it quick

 And make all kinds of money and chicks

 And you yell to yourself and you throw down yer hat

 Sayin', "Christ do I gotta be like that

 Ain't there no one here that knows where I'm at

 Ain't there no one here that knows how I feel

 Good God Almighty

 That stuff ain't real.