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Hullabaloo


Saturday, October 29, 2016

 

Dylan on getting it right

by Tom Sullivan


Bob Dylan at Azkena Rock Festival in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, June 2010. Photo by Alberto Cabello, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Two weeks of silence from Bob Dylan followed news that the Swedish Academy had awarded him the Nobel Prize in literature. In a Friday call to Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Dylan said he would accept the award. "The news about the Nobel Prize left me speechless," he said. "I appreciate the honour so much." Dylan's silence had garnered criticism:

Dylan had not responded to repeated phone calls made by the academy following the prize announcement, nor had he made any public statement, prompting one academy member to call him "impolite and arrogant".

The academy said Friday that it had not yet been decided yet if Dylan would visit Stockholm to pick up his award.
Dylan told Britain's Daily Telegraph he would, "Absolutely. If it's at all possible." The Guardian quotes Dylan on talent, practice and process (emphasis mine):
“I’d like to drive a race car on the Indianapolis track. I’d like to kick a field goal in an NFL football game. I’d like to be able to hit a hundred-mile-an-hour baseball. But you have to know your place.” he said. “There might be some things that are beyond your talents.

“Everything worth doing takes time. You have to write a hundred bad songs before you write one good one. And you have to sacrifice a lot of things that you might not be prepared for. Like it or not, you are in this alone and have to follow your own star.”

The academy announced that Dylan would be awarded the prize on 13 October, saying he had “created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.
It is easy to forget that when evaluating politicians who are not in it alone. We expect them to answer to our concerns over those of every other constituency. Progressives expect their allies to get it right the first time and are primed to throw them under the bus the first time they don't. One sees this especially with novice legislators still learning the trade. Not grasping all the nuances and traps, they vote for a bill they should have voted against. They draft a well-intentioned bill with a fatal flaw. They write a bill that gives us only some of what we want and includes something for adversaries as a sweetener and we go all Red Queen on them. If politicians were songwriters and bills were songs, nobody would get beyond the state legislature.

It took a speechless Bob Dylan two weeks to get accepting the Nobel Prize right.