On Thursday morning, the Swedish Academy announced that Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016. He's the first American to win since Toni Morrison in 1993, and he is clearly an unconventional choice, as the award normally is bestowed upon authors of novels, short stories, or poetry – not songwriters. But if you take a close look at Bob Dylan's lyrics, you'll see that he's a poet just as deserving of the Nobel Prize as any other who has gone before him.
As Sara Danius — the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy — told reporters, Dylan is "a great poet in the English speaking tradition." He spoke harsh truths through his works and his songs, and his music and poetry will long outlive him or any of us. His words became rallying cries for the anti-war and civil rights movements; he spoke of war, of peace, of fear, of displacement, of loss, of loss, and he did it all in the most accessible of ways — through song.
Here are a few of my favorite Bob Dylan song lyrics. Read his words, listen to his words, and remind yourself why he absolutely deserves the Nobel Prize in Literature.
1. "Come writers and critics who prophesy with your penAnd keep your eyes wide the chance won't come againAnd don't speak too soon for the wheel's still in spinAnd there's no tellin' who that it's namin'For the loser now will be later to winFor the times they are a' changin'!"
— "The Times They Are a-Changin'"
2. "Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed Stay, lady, stay, stay with your man awhile Until the break of day, let me see you make him smile His clothes are dirty but his hands are clean And you’re the best thing that he’s ever seen."
— "Lay Lady Lay"
3. "How does it feel, how does it feel?To be without a homeLike a complete unknown, like a rolling stone."
— "Like A Rolling Stone"
4. "I’ve been down on the bottom of a world full of lies. I ain't looking for nothing in anyone's eyes."
— "Not Dark Yet"
5. "Yes, and how many times must a man look upBefore he can see the sky?Yes, and how many ears must one man haveBefore he can hear people cry?Yes, and how many deaths will it take 'till he knowsThat too many people have died?The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the windThe answer is blowin' in the wind."
— "Blowin' In The Wind"
6. "I'm not the one you want, babeI will only let your downYou say you're lookin' for someoneWho will promise never to partSomeone to close his eyes for youSomeone to close his heartSomeone who will die for you an' moreBut it ain't me, babe"
— "It Ain't Me Babe"
7. "Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you king."
— "Sweetheart Like You"
8. "Though I know that evening's empire has returned to sand Vanished from my handLeft me blindly here to stand but still not sleepingMy weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feetI have no one to meetAnd the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming."
— "Mr. Tambourine Man"
9. "Then take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mindDown the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leavesThe haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beachFar from the twisted reach of crazy sorrowYes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving freeSilhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sandsWith all memory and fate driven deep beneath the wavesLet me forget about today until tomorrow."
— "Mr. Tambourine Man"
10. "It ain't no use in turning on your light, babeThat light I never knowedAnd it ain't no use in turning on your light, babeI'm on the dark side of the roadBut I wish there was somethin' you would do or sayTo try and make me change my mind and stayWe never did too much talking anywaySo don't think twice, it's all right."
— "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright"
11. "He woke up the room was bareHe didn't see her anywhereHe told himself he didn't care pushed the window open wideFelt an emptiness inside to which he just could not relateBrought on by a simple twist of fate."
— "Simple Twist of Fate"
12. "Now all the criminals in their coats and their tiesAre free to drink martinis and watch the sun riseWhile Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cellAn innocent man in a living hellThat's the story of the HurricaneBut it won't be over till they clear his nameAnd give him back the time he's donePut in a prison cell, but one time he could-a beenThe champion of the world."
13. "'There must be some way out of here' said the joker to the thief'There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief'Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earthNone of them along the line know what any of it is worth."
— "All Along The Watchtower"