in the jingle jangle morning I’ll come following you
I guess many people of a certain age hope to get close to Bob Dylan. A few years ago I wrote a post about the American Academy of Arts and Letters making Bob Dylan an honorary member. Now the highest literary establishment has prepared a Nobel Prize in Literature medal to put around Dylan’s skinny neck. Congratulations to Bob Dylan, but I’ll hate to see that picture in the Boston Globe. I feel the same way about this announcement that I did about the American Academy of Arts honor: Dylan’s oeuvre stands for freedom from the coercion of the powerful, and from official patronage and patronizing praise, such as the Nobel committee bestowed.
Dylan’s Tambourine Man is a dense and dreamy masterpiece of the power of music to move people, not move people to do anything in particular, just move them. Freedom of movement is an artistic value. Freedom of composition was never in doubt for Dylan. He kept moving, kept telling stories, following the beat. Folk singers followed him and told their stories too. There was music and the music made us promise to go wandering. I can’t bear to think of Dylan in a tuxedo trying to understand what is being said about him in a stuffy Swedish accent.