In giving a Nobel Prize to Bob Dylan, Baby Boomer male backslapping has officially reached its nadir

I’ve tried to find Dylan godly, really tried, but to the unloving ear he sounds like a man with a bronchial infection arduously describing his favourite commute

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It is beautifully apt that in a Nobel Prize year which honours no women at all – none, zero – Bob Dylan should be bestowed with a gong for his way with words. Dylan, the mumbling messiah to decades of puddle-deep male bohos. The saviour of the shell-necklace wearing brigade. The wibbling hero to a million men who smell slightly of damp washing basket. All party atmospheres extinguished in record time by some trust-fund troubadour with an acoustic guitar bleating through “Lay Lady Lay”.

“You don’t get it. Dylan is God,” said my ex-boyfriend, and the boyfriend before him, and the one before that, and in fact all boyfriends ever since 1985. And I’ve tried to find Dylan godly, really tried, but to the unloving ear he sounds like a man with a bronchial infection arduously describing his favourite commute.

Dylan-denying is an opinion as popular among Baby Boomer men as suggesting Laurel and Hardy aren’t funny, dangling the carrot that On The Road by Jack Kerouac is a bit self-involved tut in need of a good edit, or criticising Breaking Bad.

Bob Dylan wins Nobel Prize in literature: Some of his best lyrics

That said, women should be thankful that Bryan Cranston as Walter White wasn’t given a 2016 Nobel Prize, considering the committee was so very short of inspiration for physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, economics and peace. Half the planet – the vagina-owning side – just weren’t good enough for a place at the table, so Cranston should have got chemistry at least.

I don’t mean merely, “Not good enough over 2016, try harder ladies”, because the Nobel Prize awards lifetime achievement. That means this year, when all of the exceedingly high-achieving, lifelong endeavours that happened to people with tits were held up to scrutiny, there was nothing to report. The awards were established in 1895 and since then only 49 women have been honoured, compared with 825 men. Instead of progressing, they are plummeting backwards.

Or perhaps, this is the start of something exciting. If Dylan’s lyrics are worthy enough for Nobel, then surely in 2017 we’ll look forward to Debbie Harry’s award for Parallel Lines onwards and for rewriting ideas of feminine sexuality and lust with songs such as “Picture This”? Perhaps Stevie Nicks might get a prize at some point for “having created new poetic expressions” among a billion floaty-skirted teenage girls? Will Sinead O’Connor even ever get a tiny bit of credit, let alone a Nobel Prize, for haemorrhaging her entire career in 1992 by outrageously flagging up the Catholic Church’s hushed up child abuse record on Saturday Night Live?

No. But she wasn’t mad, was she? She was absolutely right. With gorgeous irony, 14 days after the Saturday Night Live incident, Sinead O’Connor was booed off stage at a Bob Dylan tribute concert at Madison Square Garden by the exact same great set of lads who will be cheering Dylan’s prize today.

Of course there is a certain amount of sour grapes flavouring any of these arguments, because I plainly don’t like Bob Dylan. Did I mention I think he sounds like Chef from The Muppets reading Vogon poetry?

But if a literature Nobel had gone to Morrissey for his work from Hatful of Hollow onwards, or to Andrew Eldritch from The Sisters of Mercy, or even to Elton John – who couldn’t write a lyric if his life depended on it but emotes other people’s so beautifully – there’s a chance I’d have found the 2016 Nobel crop gorgeously progressive.

But as it stands now, this year’s prize to Dylan is fabulously emblematic of men backslapping other men for things of manly importance. It’s going to take another 20 years and a lot of people dying until fresh blood takes over the Nobel Prizes. Be ready Dolly Parton; your time will come. 

Comments