What a Drag it is to See You

You might have noticed that Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday, for “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Some people have expressed surprise at this, feeling that a lyricist shouldn’t be given the award. I don’t see why not though. First of all, there’s not such a difference between poetry and song lyrics. They’re very similar structurally, tending to be divided into verses, and share the same concerns with rhythm and rhyme. I think some people feel that because song lyrics need to match the song’s music, they’re therefore less important than less important than the words of a poem or a novel which the writer was not required to match to anything. But I don’t think that’s much of an argument: all that should matter is the words, and if they’re good, and can be appreciated on their own, without music, then why shouldn’t that count as literature?

Anyway, to celebrate Bob’s win, here are some of my favourite of his lyrics in no particular order, and without commentary, because sometimes I just like them for their own sake:

I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’ (A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall)

But I wish there was somethin’ you would do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
But we never did too much talking anyway
But don’t think twice, it’s all right. (Don’t Think Twice, it’s all Right)

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. (Subterranean Homesick Blues)

I ordered some suzette, I said
“Could you please make that crepe?” (Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream)

And if my thought-dreams could been seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only. [It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)]

You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal. (Like a Rolling Stone)

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl. (All Along the Watchtower)

Her folks they said our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like Mama’s homemade dress
Papa’s bankbook wasn’t big enough. (Tangled up in Blue)

You’re an idiot babe
It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe. (Idiot Wind)

Time is an ocean but it ends at the shore
You may not see me tomorrow. (Oh Sister)

Yes I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
You’d know what a drag it is to see you. (Positively 4th Street)

11 thoughts on “What a Drag it is to See You

  1. It is so interesting here in Sweden to check out the reactions after Dylan got the prize. That surprise is messing with lots of culture people who think they know what’s wrong or right. They don’t really know how to react. It is outside their comfort zone. That’s fun 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • Agree. But now I wonder about the long silence from the prize winner. At first I thought ok he doesn’t know what to say, but now… But I guess everyone has the right to react the way they want. His lyrics are worth the price no matter how he react.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, it’s a bit strange at this stage. I think maybe he’s expecting to be asked a lot of annoying questions and wants to avoid that by staying silent. I remember watching old footage of him getting annoyed in the 60s by journalists asking questions like “Are you the voice of your generation?”

          Liked by 1 person

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