Thanks to Bob Dylan, rock’n’roll has finally broken through the Pulitzer wall.
Dylan, the most acclaimed and influential songwriter of the past half century, who more than anyone brought rock from the streets to the lecture hall, received an honorary Pulitzer Prize today (April 7), cited for his “profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.”
It was the first time Pulitzer judges, who have long favored classical music, and, more recently, jazz, awarded an art form once dismissed as barbaric, even subversive.
Long after most of his contemporaries either died, left the business or held on by the ties of nostalgia, Dylan continues to tour almost continuously and release highly regarded CDs, most recently 2006’s “Modern Times.”
Fans, critics and academics have obsessed over his lyrics — even digging through his garbage for clues — since the mid-1960s, when such protest anthems as “Blowing in the Wind” made Dylan a poet and prophet for a rebellious generation.