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NEW YORK (AP) – Bob Dylan, Nobel laureate. In the book world’s equivalent of a Supreme Court ruling, the Nobel judges declared Thursday that Dylan is not just a rock star but a poet of the very highest order.
Dylan, 75, becomes the first musician in the 115-year history of the Nobel to win the prize in literature. He was honored for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
It is the ultimate ascension for the man who set off a lasting debate over whether lyrics, especially rock lyrics, can be regarded as art. Dylan, who gave the world “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and dozens of other standards, now finds himself on a list that includes Samuel Beckett, Toni Morrison, and T.S. Eliot, whom Dylan referred to in his epic song “Desolation Row.”
“Congratulations to one of my favorite poets, Bob Dylan, on a well-deserved Nobel,” tweeted President Barack Obama, who, in 2012, presented the singer-songwriter with a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Dylan rarely gives interviews, and a representative said the star had no immediate comment. He is on tour and was scheduled to play in Las Vegas on Thursday night.
The startling announcement out of Stockholm was met with both euphoria and dismay.
Many music fans already quote Dylan as if he were Shakespeare, and judges work Dylan quotations into their legal opinions all the time.