True West
The Western Dreams of a Nobel Outlaw Image Credit: True West
The Western Dreams of a Nobel Outlaw Image Credit: True West

The Western Dreams of a Nobel Outlaw

Mama, take this badge off of me I can’t use it anymore It’s getting’ dark, too dark for me to see I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.

—Bob Dylan, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”

Stuart Rosebrook

IN 1978, Bob Dylan told a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine, “I’m sure of my dream self. I live in my dreams. I don’t really live in the actual world.”

On October 13, 2016, almost 55 years to the day and month when Dylan went into Columbia Recording Studios’ Studio A in New York City to record his self-titled debut album Bob Dylan, the Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy Sara Danius announced that the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature had been awarded to the Duluth, Minnesota, native “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” She also said, “He can be read and should be read, and is a great poet in the English tradition.”

The 13 songs on Dylan’s debut record, folk, gospel, blues and country, were a harbinger of his career as an American songwriter, poet and “voice of a generation.” Greatly inspired by Oklahoma singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie, Dylan found song-writing inspiration in the lyricism of English, Scottish and Appalachian troubadours and poets, Southern bluesmen and bluegrass pickers, folk and country champions of the underdog, the oppressed, the laborer and the lonely, the living and the dying, the lovers and the heartbroken. His lyricism inspired his listeners and his peers, with songwriters across many genres recording his music as well as writing their own contributions to the American catalog of folk mu


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