Music

Bob Dylan wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Somewhere, Don DeLillo is stamping on his hat - because Bob Dylan has been announced as the winner of this year's Nobel Prize in Literature.

The first American to be awarded the prize since 1993, it's the latest in a long line of accolades for Dylan, from receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama to being played by Cate Blanchett.

His citation hails Dylan "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, told reporters in Stockholm had been chosen because he was "a great poet in the English speaking tradition... For 54 years now he's been at it reinventing himself, constantly creating a new identity," she told reporters in Stockholm.

In everyday parlance, that means he's written some absolute bangers - we heartily recommend spending your afternoon YouTubing your way around his more than 50-year career.

If you're unaware of Dylan, or are 12 - or both - he was born Robert Zimmerman in 1941 in Minnesota. He first came to prominence in the early 1960s with a brace of heavily folk-influenced songs that raged against the injustices of his time. Very quickly, his lyrics grew more and more abstract and surreal, bringing a literacy and breadth of reference that was a sensation in a world where 'pop' music had until very recently been mostly about kissing girls at the village dance.

In 1966, he controversially 'went electric,' handing in his acoustic guitar for a full backing band and started an arms race between the major acts of the time for who could bring the most creative ambition to rock 'n' roll. A motorcycle accident at the peak of his powers led to a period of seclusion, and since the early Sixties Dylan has alternated between being a chronicler of American roots music, creator of brutally frank love songs, political firebrand, purveyor of occasionally baffling live shows, and incarnation of the Christmas spirit.

That's a lot to take in. Where to start?

Come on, where else?

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