My Most Noble Literature Prize In Music List
UDR - METAL BLOG, Vol. 15 - by Steff Chirazi
I AM going to take a wild guess and say that most of the people reading these words are not die-hard Bob Dylan fans. Me? Well, having been raised by hippy parents, having been brought to the Isle of Wight at the age of 3, having been fed a steady aural diet of Dylan, Leonard Cohen, 10 Years After, Hendrix, The Doors, The Who, Soft Machine and countless others whilst my parents entertained a merry bunch of weed smoking hippies, and having seen Dylan’s face smiling at me every morning as he looked in from the bedroom wall at my bed, it appears to have soaked in yet never really come out. My dad wants “Desolation Row” played at his funeral. I like “Maggie’s Farm”. I think the fact he’s grumpy is sort of cool, and I get it. You know. That’s about it.
I laughed when he got a Nobel Prize in Literature.
I get it.
A touchstone for generations.
But all it made me think about, were the potential candidates this award now opens to, and how we are to judge their validation.
Is it to be based on some critical consensus? Some glorious braintrust of critics whose opinions have been deemed the sacred ones? Y’know, does it have to be validated by Rolling Stone and the New York Times? Is it about age? Is it about era? WHAT is it about, exactly?
MY deduction is that it is about the sphere of influence, and the impact, a writer/lyricist’s words have had on a mass body of people as much as the weight of critical consensus behind them. It got me thinking about all the ‘writers’ whose lyrics have spoken to generations, whose words have carried weight, meaning, hope, heart, soul and emotion for generations. And so, I thought I’d share a few of my Nobel Prize Winners with you. And maybe you could, in turn, share a few back with me. That sort of thing. Because let’s face it, this cannot be allowed to begin and end with Bob Dylan!
NOBEL PRIZE #1
Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister
“Fourth day of a five-day marathon/We’re moving like a parallelogram…” Sorry. NO-ONE has EVER written a cooler geometric lyric, let alone managed to align parallelograms and people so serenely. Lemmy loved words. He loved the way they looked on a page, he loved the shape of letters and by God he loved verse - so it should be no surprise whatsoever that the man who consistently wrote such brilliant verse as
I am the one, Orgasmatron, the outstretched grasping hand
My image is of agony, my servants rape the land
Obsequious and arrogant, clandestine and vain
Two thousand years of misery, of torture in my name
Hypocrisy made paramount, paranoia the law
My name is called religion, sadistic, sacred whore.
is getting a posthumous Nobel Prize from me.
NOBEL PRIZE #2
Show me a man from the ‘60s who tapped into hippy conscience and I will show you a child of the ‘70s/early ‘80s who surged into the main vein of disconsolate, doleful, angry bitter suburban youth via some of the most turmoil-saturated, frustrated screams of rage and self-medication ever committed to lyrical creation.
Pure black, looking clear
My work is done soon here
Try getting back to me
Get back which used to be
Let the beatings begin
Distributor of pain
Your loss becomes my gain
That’s from “Harvester Of Sorrow” and it didn’t get much cheerier after that I can tell you, and when he wails ‘God it feels like it only rains on me’ during “My World”, well, I’m sorry, Van Morrison, Dylan, Cohen, none of them got close to writing something so utterly soul-chillingly sad and lonely. I could go on, but let’s just accept that Hetty’s getting a Nobel, OK?
NOBEL PRIZE #3
Yeah. Yeah. And yeah again, because this man related tales of the common man, woman and child for decade upon decade, casually throwing out brilliant prose as though it was a morning yawn. His stories are poetry of the highest standard, that he found a musical vehicle to convey them to millions more people is a massively amazing thing. Check out this verse from “Folsom Prison Blues” …
When I was just a baby
My Mama told me, son
Always be a good boy
Don't ever play with guns
But I shot a man in Reno
Just to watch him die
When I hear that whistle blowin'
I hang my head and cry
So simple, so effective and so great. And for those who might rightly say that composer Gordon Jenkins supplied the template with his “Crescent City Blues”, Cash took them and brought it to the dark side, the bleak shadows. Something he seemed to revel in, just read this from “A Man Called Sue”.
Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean
My fist got hard and my wits got keen
I'd roam from town to town to hide my shame
But I made a vow to the moon and stars
That I'd search the honky-tonks and bars
And kill that man who gave me that awful name
So give this man a Nobel NOW!
NOBEL PRIZE #4
“Heavy Metal Thunder” … ”Denim & Leather” … ”Dallas 1pm” … ”747 Strangers In The Night” … do I need to go on? I mean, can you or can you not sing ALL OF THEM RIGHT NOW SEQUENTIALLY? Do they or DO THEY NOT speak to YOU and yours? Look, there are others too, many of them, but my point is that once again, in the realm of communicating with everyone and empathizing with the feelings and emotions of millions of normal, working class people, Biff Byford is every bit as important as Bruce Bloody Springsteen, and might even be deserving of a new moniker, aka The Barnsley BOSS. So Swiss blokes, wrap up another of those bloody NOBEL thingy’s and send it over here PRONTO!
NOBEL PRIZE #5
Oh sweet Jesus Mary, Joseph and whoever the fuck else was hanging around the manger that night bearing gifts or deities, why the hell Iggy Pop DID NOT RECEIVE A NOBEL PRIZE before The Zimm remains one of the filthy mysteries of life. Our own Lord & Saviour of delicious depravity, lawlessness and sterling silver honour has been touching souls since the late ‘60s with a cornucopia of sensational, incendiary literary arrows of joy at our need-to-bleed hearts. Let’s revisit some right now…
I'm a street walking cheetah
with a heart full of napalm
I'm a runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb
I am a world's forgotten boy
The one who searches and destroys
Search & Destroy
I'm worth a million in prizes
With my torture film
Drive a G.T.O.
Wear a uniform
All on government loan
Lust For Life
It's a big industry
And they can beat my brain
With houses and wars and chains
They are insane
But they can beat my brain
God and his captains
They won't pull a fucking plug
They won't pull a fucking plug
And give the skies
Back to the birds and bugs
Till Wrong Feels Right
Those trendy Norwegian and Swiss socialites should crawl naked on the very same broken glass that Sir Iggy has rolled on many times over and BEG him to accept their measly door-stopper, because the man puts the POET in ‘POET’ and is living, breathing, electric and vital art!
NOBEL PRIZE #6
Who cannot sing the words to “Breathe”? Or “Wish You Were Here”? Or vast tracts of “The Wall”? Who has not, at 3am, roared in melancholic fashion ‘run, rabbit run, dig that hole, forget the sun’ … put simply, if Bob Dylan spoke to ‘a’ generation, Roger Waters spoke (and speaks) to generations upon generations. He is one of those rare phenomenon - a hugely successful global storyteller - who circumvents the need for bilingualism. He speaks the human language. Those boffins in academia should probably fire one up and dip into the soul of Waters’ words (not that it’s necessary if you have a clue to start with) but given the stiffness of their shirts I’d suggest it as an immediate course of action. And then they can just send Mr Waters that NOBEL immediately!
Those are my immediate choices, so now it’s your turn. Come on. Don’t just sit there, inert and lumpen, FIRE SOME BACK!