Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize for Literature came as a surprise to many, but for a lot of these people, it was still a well-deserved award for the legendary singer-songwriter. Musicians, actors, and even heads of state congratulated Dylan, 75, for winning the prestigious prize, even if he is better-known as a creator of timeless songs and an almost six-decade veteran of the music scene, rather than a literary great in the conventional sense.
However, one prominent name wasn’t happy about the news, as Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh took to Twitter on Thursday to complain about the decision.
Indeed, it can be said that Bob Dylan is a Nobel Prize winner for Literature unlike any other. Born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, on May 24, 1941, Dylan started his musical career in the late ’50s and moved to New York in 1961, where he became one of his generation’s predominant singer-songwriters. Starting with his self-titled debut album in 1962, Dylan has released 37 studio albums, with his latest, Fallen Angels, arriving in the spring of 2016.
Despite numerous changes in musical trends through the years, Dylan songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin'” remain classics. One of his songs, “All Along the Watchtower,” is best-known as a Jimi Hendrix cover, and it’s that cover version that is oftentimes a staple of soundtracks to movies set in the late ’60s. As such, Dylan is a veritable force in popular music despite his folk roots, but since music and literature seem to be two completely contrasting things, Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh took to Twitter to register his disgust over the musician’s 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature.
If you're a 'music' fan, look it up in the dictionary. Then 'literature'. Then compare and contrast. https://t.co/lBacq8sIzp— Irvine Welsh (@IrvineWelsh) October 13, 2016
On Thursday afternoon U.K. time, Welsh started a heated discussion on Twitter, saying that while he’s a fan of Bob Dylan, his Nobel Prize is an “ill-conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies.” As documented by the Daily Mail, Welsh also added a tweet asking followers to “compare and contrast” music and literature, and he sarcastically asked beforehand if fellow writer Don De Lillo has been named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame “alongside Def Leppard and Slayer.”
When Dylan was awarded the prize, the Swedish Academy in Stockholm said he won it “for having created new poetic expressions” within American music, but Welsh’s Twitter posts generally suggest that he wasn’t having any of that due to his view that music and literature are completely different from each other.
Later tweets from Welsh, however, suggested that he may be slightly softening his stand on the Bob Dylan Nobel Prize victory. Responding to a Twitter user who asked him to read books “about the history of literature and/or music,” Welsh said that it “might be no bad thing” if categories such as the aforementioned are rendered superfluous. Still, he remained combative against users who took the opportunity to criticize his work and retweeted a post from someone who said pop music is the “highest art form” and therefore doesn’t need validation by being filed under the same category as literature.
It’s clear that Irvine Welsh is no fan of musicians like Dylan winning the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature. However, that’s not the case for Washington and Lee professor Gordon Ball, who said his victory is a “vindication” after he had nominated the legend for 15 years straight, from 1996 to 2010.
“There’s an enormous, almost a kind of unbelievability, that it finally happened,” Ball told the Daily Mail via phone.
He added that people did think he was “crazy, or really out of line” to nominate Bob Dylan for the Nobel Prize for Literature but added that the awarding committee has been more open toward a wider range of mediums and that Dylan’s broader impact on the world cannot be ignored.
[Featured Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]