For the first time in its history, the Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to a musician. Depending on who you ask, however, Bob Dylan blurs the line between musician and poet. The 75-year-old singer/songwriter joins the likes of Toni Morrison, T.S. Eliot, and Gabriel García Márquez, and his work was even compared to that of ancient bards Homer and Sappho, whose work was sung. His simple melodies and deep, thoughtful lyrics tackled topics like social unrest, civil rights, and more. He is credited with expanding the boundaries of genres like rock and folk, and even combining the two in a way that had never been done before, musically.
Dylan is probably most famous for songs like “Times They Are A Changin’” and “Like A Rolling Stone,” but his music spans generations and genres, from the 1960s all the way up to modern day, and from folk to rock to country and more. The choice of Dylan as the recipient of the award suggests that the definition of literature is expanding and can include musical works as well.
Today on AirTalk, Larry chats with former L.A. Times pop music critic Robert Hilman, who came to know Dylan during his years as a working music journalist, and even sat down for a long interview with him in the early 2000s.
What are your favorite Bob Dylan songs and albums? How did his music influence your life? What do you see as his contributions to literature through his music?
René Engel, country music DJ, host and producer of the show Citybilly on San Louis Obispo NPR affiliate KCBX and a former KPCC host
Robert Hilburn, former pop music critic for The Los Angeles Times from 1970 through 2005 and author of several books, including “Corn Flakes with John Lennon And Other Tales from a Rock ‘n’ Roll Life” (Rodale Books, 2009)