Bob Dylan Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature

bob_dylan_-_azkena_rock_festival_2010_2The singer and songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on today for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” in the words of the Swedish Academy. He is the first American to win since the novelist Toni Morrison, in 1993.

In a 2013 Op-Ed Essay in the New York Times Bill Wyman wrote, “Mr. Dylan’s work remains utterly lacking in conventionality, moral sleight of hand, pop pabulum or sops to his audience. His lyricism is exquisite; his concerns and subjects are demonstrably timeless, and few poets of any era have seen their work bear more influence.”

Below is my poem, “Gone Electric.” It is a poetic tribute to Bob Dylan. It includes one line “And played the greatest poet – lyricist ever seen.” Today’s award kind of validates my point of view. The poem is my most viewed poem and second most viewed post on my blog with over 2,000 views a day.

If Dylan were sitting with me I could help but ask, “How does it feel?” to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Gone Electric

Our music choice back then was known as folk
the surgeon general told us not to smoke
Acoustic was our favorite sound
In Washington, D.C. The Beatles played in the round

We cried when JFK was assassinated that November day
and why the Vietnam War we asked LBJ
The Newport Folk Festival was going strong
And Bob Dylan wrote our favorite song

On television we all got Lost in Space
And Ryan O’Neil made hearts throb on Payton Place
Back in ’65 three girls sang with a sound which was Supreme
And played the greatest poet – lyricist ever seen

And the times were a changing because of him
Playboy Playmate Sara Lownds was his wife, young and trim
She gave him three sons and a beautiful little girl
Some before, some after the tour that rocked the world

His acoustic half-set sounded the same
the electric-half critics called a shame
and his music still changed the world
Even as shouts of Judas started to swirl

They hated him at the Royal Albert Hall
and were glad when he took that horrible fall
some thought after his motorcycle accident
That his life and career were totally spent.

Eight years before he toured the world again,
He wouldn’t let the critics boss him with their poison pen
And his music never really would change
Though his voice now shows age’s strain

To the arenas, stadiums, and theaters we still all come
and he sings putting the sunshine:  in our lives glum
Just Like a Woman, Mr. Tambourine Man and Desolation Row
Then with Like a Rolling Stone he closes the show.

Jimmie Aaron Kepler
© 2011

Originally published in:
WORDS..RHYMES..POETRY & PROSE! as  Electric Dylan
“Gone Electric” is the title poem in “Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection” available on Amazon.

Photo Credit: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Description: Bob Dylan, onstage in Victoria-Gasteiz, at the Azkena Rock Festival.
Date 26 June 2010, 21:14
Source Bob Dylan
Author Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, The Baptist Standard (ghostwriter), Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine, WORDS..RHYMES..POETRY & PROSE, and more. His novels The Rebuilder and Miss Sarah’s Secret as well as Charlie’s Bells: A Short Story Anthology and the award-winning short story The Cup, and the short stories Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, The Paintings and poetry collection Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com.


Available on Amazon

Review: Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon – And the Journey of a Generation

Tonight I watched a new installment of PBS’ My Music series. Founding Supremes singer Mary Wilson served as the host of the program showcasing many classic female singers and girl groups of the 1960s. It showcased seventeen of the singers/groups. Watching it reminded me of the book “Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon – And the Journey of a Generation” by Sheila Weller that I read a couple of years ago. Here is a review of the book I wrote in August 2011.

The contents of “Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon–And the Journey of a Generation” by Sheila Weller will be very recognizable to us who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s. Sheila Weller tells us that King, Simon, and Mitchell pushes back the barriers for women specifically, “one song at a time.”

The enigmatic one remains Carole King, whom Weller just can’t shed light on in any significant way. King’s life was amazing then it stopped being of any interest at all. We learn and hear again and again how she wrote all those Brill Building masterpieces before she was 21. We learn how she broke down under the strain of a troubled marriage to a husband and lyricist, Gerry Goffin whom she at married when she was 17 and pregnant by him. We see how she comes through the divorce with an LP, Tapestry, that everyone loved and bought. After that her life is bad men in abundance. They were attracted to her wealth. King once estimated that every time she divorced a man, it cost her a million dollars. Weller gives us all the facts. One still has to wonder why King did this to herself.

Carly Simon, on the other hand seems nearly normal as normal can be for someone of the upper, upper middle class. Though perceptibly spoiled and protected by wealth, Simon doesn’t seem spoiled. Her reactions are always understandable and sympathetic. This includes her meeting and marrying the drug-zombie James Taylor.

Joni Mitchell isn’t sympathetic. She has the integrated persona of the genius totally in love with herself and obsessed with her own reflection, so she’s great in a special way. The author makes fun of Mitchell’s vanity and enormous self-esteem. Weller still lets us know that, in her estimation at any rate, Mitchell actually is amazing.

Weller is interested in the ways women deal with each other. It’s nearly a biography of five people, not just three, as there is so much about James Taylor you will never need to read another word about him if you have this book on your shelf. There is also plenty of material about Judy Collins. Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon–And the Journey of a Generation is a book that convinces us forcefully in its larger arguments and dazzles with its wide-ranging portraits of artistic life in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Review: I, Me, Mine

“I, Me, Mine” by George Harrison was an extremely challenging read. The book was at times boring, has poor structure, and lacked direction. You can feel George Harrison’s dry wit and humor in the pages of the book with the key word being dry.

Don’t expect to learn a lot about Harrison. The book lacks the tell all element that many want.

Harrison was obsessed with Krishna. He says in the text that he promoted his personal religious beliefs through his songs. He felt it critical to share his faith. Does that make him an evangelical Hare Krishna?

George does not describe much of his relationships with the other Beatles. Including the handwritten lyrics is a great bonus. This is a definite must-have for admirers of the Harrison. If you can find the book at the half-price book store or even you local library and love the Beatles and George, enjoy.

Review: Clapton: The Autobiography

Biographies are a passion for me. I approach each with an open mind ready to hear the writer’s story. My interest in music, love of rock and roll, and respect for great guitar musicianship lead me to read Eric Clapton’s autobiography.

Sex, booze, drugs and rock and roll fill the celebrated guitarist’s autobiography. As he retraces his career, from the early stints with the Yardbirds, Cream, and Derek and The Dominoes to his solo successes, Clapton also devotes great detail to his drug and alcohol addictions.

You get the back-story of his life as you learn he was raised by his grandparents. You learn that his mother was 15 when she became pregnant with him and that his father was a Canadian soldier. He struggles all his life with his background.

A major influence/obsession in his life was Pattie Boyd (former wife of Beatle George Harrison). His relationship with the Boyd for whom he wrote Layla culminated in a turbulent marriage. He spends great detail on their relationship as well as other female relationships.

I enjoyed reading about how he taught himself to play the guitar. I learned that he never learned to read music. He describes his playing style as a variation of the folk music claw-hammer style. He says he uses the top two strings of his guitar for the bass line, the middle two strings for rhythm, and the bottom two strings for playing lead guitar. He shares how he selected his guitars. We learn how the gauge of the strings and the distance between fret and neck influenced his ability to play.

You get the story of his son Connor, his accidental death, and the song Tears in Heaven.We learn of the impact of the death of Stevie Ray Vaughn on his life.

Clapton warms to the subject of his recovery, stressing its spiritual elements and how he started the Crossroads Clinic in Antigua. He eagerly discusses the fund-raising efforts for his Crossroads clinic and the Crossroads Guitar/Music Festivals he used to raise money for the clinics. Sharing this personal journey into addiction and recovery is therapeutic for him.

His reflecting is filled with humility, particularly in the form of unhappiness with his early successes. He professes ambivalence about the famous Clapton is God graffiti, although he admits he was grateful for the recognition from fans. At times, he sounds more like landed nobility than a rock star. He shares about his collection of contemporary art, enthusiastically defending his hunting and fishing as leisure activities, and extolling the qualities of his quiet country living. But both the youthful excesses and the current calm state are narrated with a charming tone that pushes Clapton’s story ahead of other rock and roll memoirs. This is a well written book that is worth the purchase price and time you invest in reading.