As much as I love the bard of Hibbing, I did sympathize a bit with Jon Friedman’s Marketwatch column about Dylan’s Pulitzer Prize. He’s a Dylan fan too (hell, it sounds like he almost has as many bootlegs as I do) but he insists that anointing Bobby is just a play for the Prize people to look hip. I wonder about that myself and you can’t honestly think that such a sentiment didn’t cross the minds of the Prize committee. It’s only in the last decade that the committee decided that jazz was worthy of the honor and even then, they’ve only chosen a small handful of recipients then.
Dylan represents the first time that a rock performer has gotten any kind of recognition from them (it was a special citation after all). But much like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you wonder why other performers haven’t gotten a similar nod. Dylan was noted for “his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.” It’s nice that they recognize that he’s a great songwriter and that if they are going to start to recognize someone in rock for these kind of skills, you might as well start with him. Dylan is an easy choice for them also because much of his work has a literary tinge to it so it falls in line pretty well with other artists that they’ve honored. Also, his recent Chronicles book is one of the best rock bios you’ll ever read- no doubt that helped him too. But is this just going to be a blip or an ongoing concern with the committee? Which rockers, if anyone, will they recognize in the coming years?