Nobel Prize Committee Disses Dylan — and Songwriters — Again

When Britain’s largest bookmaking site, Ladbrokes, announced that Bob Dylan was the odds-on favorite to win this year’s Nobel prize in literature, it seemed that perhaps the times really are a changing. Alas, it turns out the times haven’t changed all that much. The Nobel committee bypassed Dylan in favor of Swede Tomas Tranströmer.

Dylan has been nominated multiple times for the prize and lost. In nominating Dylan in 1999, Dr. Gordon Ball, professor of English and Fine Arts, Virginia Military Institute, wrote of Dylan’s work: “His blend of poetry and social consciousness with music is entirely appropriate for Nobel recognition.”

Dylan isn’t the only talented poet who just happens to add music to his haunting words. Here’s a list of songwriters/poets who deserve to win the Nobel in literature—but probably won’t:

Paul Simon. Simon became a Kennedy Center honoree in 2002 His Kennedy Center biography notes: “His work embraces a world of poetry and music that knows no frontiers.” The biography concluded:”Paul Simon is a born storyteller.”

John Lennon. It’s hard to “Imagine” Lennon missing out on a Nobel prize because he chose to concentrate on writing songs instead of standard poetry, but it’s true. Also, the the Nobel committee doesn’t award the prize posthumously, according to the Washington Post. This year, Ralph Steinman, died of pancreatic cancer three days before getting his prize. The committee didn’t know Steinman had died when he was chosen. Official rules were pored over, and the committee decided to let Steinman’s award stand.

Warren Zevon. Besides the fact that the masses know him for crooning about “Werewolves of London,” Zevon, like Lennon died years ago, so if ever he had a chance, it’s gone. In the case of Ralph Steinman, the committee didn’t know he was dead until after Steinman had won. Whether or not Steinman could keep the status became the source of another committee meeting and debate, so odds are it won’t happen for Zevon or the last person on this list.

Frank Zappa. To start off, like Lennon and Zevon, Zappa has that “being dead” thing going on which limits his chances. Also like Zevon, while the bulk of his writing deals with issues poetry is born from, he’s most known for penning the likes of “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow.” It’s a shame because in his deeper moments he wrote “Dumb All Over,” which presented a witty perceptive view of man’s obsession with religion and the fights and wars that result from that obsession.

More from this contributor:

Bob Dylan: A Man of Many Faces and Even More Music

Masters of Music: Bob Dylan’s Top Songs

Music Trivia: How the Band Got Its Name

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