Vancouver Zeitgeist
Reflections on Vancouver, British Columbia and other topics, related or not


Misunderstood, still

A Nobel for literature leaves
Bob Dylan’s greatest gift unrecognized

Greg Klein | October 15, 2016

Bob Harmonica Man Dylan sure is talented

He sure is talented.


And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, like, thing to do, to really really understand this guy’s talent. The Nobel Prize for Literature is just a first step.

What the prize does accomplish is to prove the profundity of everyone. Dylan’s lyrics sort of express what average people sort of think, when they’re sort of thinking. Dylan brings out the greatness within all of us, sort of.

But those lyrics are just an accompaniment to an even higher level of talent, one that better expresses Dylan’s absolutely ineffable genius—his harmonica playing.

Maybe the prize was a compromise, there being no Nobel for music. But surely the award committee could have just as easily given him the literature prize on the basis of that harmonica playing. Makes at least as much sense, doesn’t it?

Listen to the harmonica to understand the man. Self-indulgent, irritating, incoherent, don’t-give-a-fuck noise. Only a great man could have such attitude. And attitude is key to Dylan’s appeal.

Not good looking, not overly bright, not particularly capable of anything, his genius was to package all that mediocrity into a persona that, not withstanding its God-like aura, people can identify with. Anyone can aspire to do what he does every bit as well as he does it.

Probably more people would try, if they could figure out what it is he does.


Looking at Vancouver, here are some equally worthy Nobel nominees:

Physics: Buddy at the Cambie Street Canadian Tire service centre

Chemistry: Justin, on-call barista at the Broadway and Commercial Blenz

Physiology or Medicine: The docs at that weird medical clinic beside the Rio on east Broadway

Peace: Any B.C. social justice warrior

Economic Sciences: Christy Clark for her 2013 LNG campaign promises

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