Upon awakening this morning following a full, demanding, elevating, affirming, and purifying Yom Kippur, I learned of the Nobel Prize for Literature being awarded this year to Bob (Zimmerman) Dylan, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
It is said that the music of one’s youth and teen years remains a person’s favorite and default music for the rest of their lives, even if we evolve our tastes. For me, I grew up in the early to late ’60s loving Bob Dylan. His music was at once personal to me and it was the voice of my generation in the midst of a cultural revolution in America.
I was told by a dear friend after delivering my high holiday sermons this year that I could not have spoken the way I did had I not grown up in the 1960s. Though I think my messages transcend my generation, in a way my friend is right. I have a certain orientation in the world reflecting values and politics that were forged in the 1960s after the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement, and Vietnam War.
Those were painful and confusing times for Americans and for me and my generation in particular (I was born in the closing weeks of 1949). I’ve carried those ’60s memories into my liberal politics today.
I am not a scholar of poetry, but Dylan’s verse has always moved me. I walk in my neighborhood 3 to 4 times a week listening to my favorite podcasts. When I tire of the spoken word, I shift to the music I’ve downloaded, and prominent there is Dylan. His poetry, syntax, melody, and voice lift me, offer me insight and provoke my thinking as only a great poet can do.
I regret that Dylan left Judaism for Christianity, as the press has reported, but I recognize that as an artist, he is forever seeking and breaking from convention. I’m thrilled for the honor he has received.
Mazal tov Bob! Keep the music and poetry coming!