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

Christopher Hooton
Thursday 13 October 2016 12:35
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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.

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