Expert Breaks Down Why Bob Dylan Deserves the Nobel Prize for Literature

Dylan expert David Gaines breaks down why the singer has earned this honor.

ByABC News
October 14, 2016, 10:19 AM

— -- Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He's the first musician ever to capture the prize, and the first American writer since 1993 to do so.

But should a songwriter really be eligible to win the Nobel Prize for literature?

Yes, says Dylan expert David Gaines, professor of English at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and author of the book "In Dylan Town: A Fan's Life."

"I think Dylan has always been putting words out there, combining words and thoughts and images, telling stories and turning phrases in ways that will be read for a very long time," Gaines told ABC News.

"I'm excited because it expands our notion of what literature can be," he added. "It can be words set to music. It can be film. It can be sermons. It can be speeches. So I think it's a bigger tent and it's not just your grandfather's novels anymore."

Now that Dylan's won the honor, though, does that mean that other songwriters should be seriously considered? Should Bruce Springsteen win it? What about Paul Simon?

"I think Paul Simon -- and Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell -- are all really, really terrific writers and they have almost the longevity of Dylan," Gaines said. "But I do think ultimately there's something a notch or two different about his use of language, his ambition. And one thing that distinguishes him, to me ... [is that] he is even more timeless in his interest and his scope."

Another plus in Dylan's column, according to Gaines, is the fact that much of Dylan's music is political, which is something the Nobel committee likes to see in its nominees.

But asked to name the work that proves that Dylan's worthy of the honor, Gaines didn't choose any political tracks.

"I'll give you a song: '[Mr.] Tambourine Man,'" Gaines said. "And I think it's a real toss-up between 'Blonde on Blonde' and 'Blood on the Tracks.' Those are two terrific albums from very different stages in his life and career."