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Singer-Songwriter Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize for Literature
Oct 15, 2016

American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, whose decades-long career in music has pushed the boundaries of multiple genres, has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. The 75-year-old-musician was honoured by the Swedish Academy for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

The Nobel is the latest accolade for a singer who has come a long way from his humble beginnings as Robert Allen Zimmerman, born in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, who taught himself to play the harmonica, guitar and piano.

  • That made him the first American to win the prize since 1993, when novelist Toni Morrison was honoured by the Nobel academy.
  • He also became the first true musician to win the literature prize since it was first awarded in 1901.
  • During a career spanning more than five decades, much of Bob Dylan’s work has chronicled social unrest, with early songs of poetic defiance and incandescent imagery such as ‘Blowing in the Wind’ and ‘The Times They Are a-Changing’ becoming anthems for the civil rights and antiwar movements.
  • For years, his concerts began with an announcement that introduced him (perhaps ironically) as the ‘poet laureate of rock ’n’ roll
  • Bob Dylan began performing in local nightclubs. After dropping out of college he moved to New York in 1960. His first album contained only two original songs, but the 1963 breakthrough "The Freewheeling Bob Dylan" featured a slew of his own work including the classic "Blowing in the Wind".
  • Armed with a harmonica and an acoustic guitar, Bob Dylan confronted social injustice, war and racism, quickly becoming a prominent civil rights campaigner—and recording an astonishing 300 songs in his first three years.
  • Bob Dylan's first British tour was captured in the classic documentary ‘Don't Look Bac’ in 1965.
  • The following albums, ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ and ‘Blonde on Blonde’, won rave reviews, but Bob Dylan's career was interrupted in 1966 when he was badly injured in a motorcycle accident and his recording output slowed in the 1970s.
  • By the early 1980s his music reflected the performer's born-again Christianity, although this was tempered in successive albums, with many fans seeing a resurgence of his explosive early-career talent in the 1990s.
  • Since the turn of millennium, as well as his regular recording output and touring, Bob Dylan has also found time to host a regular radio show, the Theme Time Radio Hour, and published a well-received book ,Chronicles’, in 2004.
  • He was the focus of at least two more films, Martin Scorsese's 2005 ‘No Direction Home’ and ‘I'm not There’ in 2007 starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger and Cate Blanchett.
  • Over the years Bob Dylan has won 11 Grammy awards, as well as one Golden Globe and even an Oscar in 2001, for best original song ‘Things have Changed’ in the movie ‘Wonder Boys’.

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