Why Bob Dylan Earned The Nobel Prize

It’s been slightly more than a week since Bob Dylan received the Nobel Prize in Literature, and his website is just acknowledging it. More important than the delayed response is the legacy that Dylan has worked tirelessly to create, whether he cares or not.

The artist has invented a new language, and there are songwriters across the world who want to be recognized for their greatness the same way Dylan was. What tips can they pick up from their hero?

1. Offer multiple interpretations.

Dylan’s often cryptic lyrics are left open-ended for listeners to figure out for themselves. The songs are fragmented pieces strung together that flow in and out of listeners ears.

Many listeners tune in to what they are interested in and leave what they don’t. Include lyrics that can be heard in a variety of different ways.

2. Maintain the mystery.

In the modern age of being a musician, it is hard to leave much up to the listener’s imagination. Musicians are tweeting and posting photos nonstop. As helpful as their use of social media can be, it has to be used in the right ways.

Dylan gave interviews at the height of his fame, but the media worked to his advantage. An enigma is built around the lyrics as well as the man. There is more to music than music, though. Listeners respond to a story or an image just as much as the work left behind.

3. Keep at it.

No one handed Dylan this award when he released his first single more than half a century ago. He hasn’t stopped working since the early sixties. Although he has discussed hanging it up, Dylan is still touring, releasing albums, and working hard.

Despite facing rough patches over long periods of time, the fact that Dylan is still working is a testament to how impressive he is as an artist.

Bob Dylan is the ultimate songwriter. He is an icon, yet he is still respected in small subculture circles. He never meant to be a counterculture figure, but he fell into it because of his enigmatic presence. It seems as if he fell into winning The Nobel Prize as well. Write meaningful lyrics, blaze trails, and become the songwriter that defines the times.

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Will Randick is a blogger and educator working out of the Bay Area.

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