If Dylan, then Morrissey

Some people are asking, “Why not Philip Roth? Why not Leonard Cohen?”

Well, for some reason Stockholm doesn’t like Roth. It’s almost as if they had agreed to strike him off the list for good.

Cohen is Canadian. Alice Munro used up the quota in 2013. Two Canadians within five years and not a single American in twenty-four would have been too much. Also, great as Cohen is, he’s less of an era by himself than Bob Dylan.

There are sillier questions, like “why not Paul McCartney?” I guess that’s because Sir Paul is mostly a tunesmith. If there is a British lyricist deserving the prize, that must be Morrissey.

There’s more to life than books, you know.
But not much more,
not much more.


  1. I don’t think Dylan should have won it. It’s not as if he needs the publicity, money or adulation. I’ve never really managed to get into him because I’ve been put off by the excessive claims of his admirers, plus that voice.

    I’m a big fan of The Smiths though.

    • NB: One of the reasons I think I started listening to The Smiths was that some of my teachers at school told us not to (“you kids shouldn’t be listening to that depressing, negative music”). Yes, it’s “negative, depressing music” but it’s also witty and humorous. I have a feeling they were Bob Dylan fans too.

      • At least they cared. I was lucky to have a literature teacher with an interest in that kind of music and a sound judgment (as I realized later), but I think he was still an exception for that time and place (the late 1980s, Moscow). Everyone was listening to some kind of Anglo-American music at the time but there was little interest in British groups of the 1980s. The Smiths, oddly, seem to have had little influence on the Russian pop/rock/indie scene. (I only realized a year or two ago how amazing they had been.) As for Bob Dylan, it’s a name everybody knows but few care much for in these parts, although old hippies seem to revere him.

    • I’m not arguing he deserved it (I’m anything but a Dylan expert). I’m merely saying it wasn’t a category error. They could have gone the whole way and chosen Chuck Berry instead, but the thought of his acceptance speech must have stopped them.

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