Bob Dylan Receives Nobel Prize for Literature

bob_dylan

Bob Dylan is an American songwriter and singer who has sold over a hundred million records with influences from civil rights to philosophy. Now, he has once again been recognized for his five decades of work. In December 2016, the Nobel Committee awarded him with a Nobel Prize for Literature, making him one of the most controversial Nobel Laureates. The public was divided over whether a songwriter was eligible for a literary award.

The committee explained that Bob Dylan was selected for “creat[ing] new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” but many critics and novelists denounced the supposed cheapening of the Nobel Prize. Dylan further agitated the public by maintaining silence for two weeks after the announcement while the committee grew increasingly agitated. Finally, he accepted the prize but stated that he was unable to attend the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden. Instead, he sent a speech that was read aloud by Azita Raji, an American ambassador.

In it, Dylan expressed his humble thanks and the honor to be among the literary greats. He addresses the debate of lyrics and literature by comparing his situation to that of William Shakespeare. What was going through Shakespeare’s mind while writing Hamlet? Perhaps: “ ‘Are there enough good seats for my patrons?’ ‘Where am I going to get a human skull?’” Bob Dylan states, “The farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question ‘Is this literature?’… Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, ‘Are my songs literature?’”

Professor and Nobel Committee member Horace Engdahl asked in his speech, “What matter the rank of a work when its beauty is of the highest rank?” …That is the straight answer to the question of how Bob Dylan belongs in literature: as the beauty of his songs is of the highest rank.” Engdahl continued on, proclaiming Bob Dylan “a singer worthy of a place beside the Greeks’ ἀοιδόι, beside Ovid, beside the Romantic visionaries, beside the kings and queens of the Blues, beside the forgotten masters of brilliant standards.”

Bob Dylan is truly a step forward for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and his works will have a lasting influence on music culture.

The works of Bob Dylan are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They are also available for download through our new Hoopla service

Westwood Vibrato by Youn In Wan and Kim Sun Hee

There is a story behind every song as each note relays an untold emotion or memory. Music can be understood universally as a language without words, but the storyteller is often overlooked.

Cornelia Bobo Warsha is a genius instrument repairwoman living in South Africa. Her studio, “Westwood Vibrato,” can restore the sound of any musical instrument. For every instrument she repairs, Cornelia has a special request. She asks to hear the story of the one who plays the instrument. She calls it a hobby, but in a way it is healing for the one telling it. The readers are taken along with Cornelia as she immerse herself into the story.

Westwood Vibrato is filled with stories both happy and sad. Stories of broken or lost people connected to memories by the sound of music. This series digs deep into bonds between people and it is other people who make the biggest impact on other people’s lives. Cordelia is especially strong character because despite of her permanent disability she always looks toward the brighter side life and how she can make other people’s lives better. It is written in arcs with short comical interludes that build the story. Each of the arcs focus on a specific type of relationship. There is a wide ranged covered but all are relationships that could happen in everyday life. It is a heartwarming series. I would recommend this to those looking for a story that digs deep into both good and bad emotions.

I cannot say this is true for you so discover it for yourself and tell me what you think.

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

Westwood Vibrato is licensed by Line Webtoon and is free to read online.

Movie Review: August Rush

augustrushI was very surprised to discover that not many people have heard of or seen the movie August Rush. It is my all time favorite movie and, in my opinion, deserves a lot more recognition than it has been given. Though the movie came out in 2007, August Rush is one of those movies that stays with me forever; like some would say about Star Wars or Harry Potter. 

August Rush is a movie that effectively expresses the talents of Robin Williams and Freddie Highmore. Highmore’s character, Evan, grows up in an orphanage and is bullied by the older kids. Evan has a special connection to music and hears it everywhere he goes, and he hopes that it will reconnect him with his parents. Evan’s mother, Lyla, never wanted to give him up, however her disapproving dad told Lyla that she lost the baby, when really Evan was sent to an orphanage. Evan’s father, Lewis, is a businessman who used to be the lead singer in his band until he quit. The movie follows Evan on his journey to find his parents.

Along the way, Evan meets The Wizard, played by Robin Williams, and finds that he is a musical prodigy. He picks up guitar in minutes, and starts playing for Wizard on park benches to get money. Wizard gives Evan a new stage name: August Rush. Evan later realizes that Wizard just wants Evan, now August, for his talent in which to make money. He escapes and comes to a church where he again displays a knack for music when he starts playing piano and reading music for the first time. The reverend gets August in school at Juilliard, and he composes an original piece called August’s Rhapsody. While in school, Wizard tracked him down and tries to take him back by pretending to be his father. Meanwhile, Lewis (August’s dad) gets back into music and starts playing guitar again.

While August is playing in the park waiting for Wizard to arrive, he is approached by Lewis and the two play together, not knowing they are related in any way. Later in the movie, August escapes Wizard yet again to perform his rhapsody in the park for thousands of people. His mom performing before, and his dad being nearby, August’s music reunites his parents with each other, and later, himself. August Rush has given me a new perspective to music and is a great film for all ages.

-Kyle H.

August Rush is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

Modern Music and Classic Literature

“Classics in literature are irrelevant now and don’t relate to life today.”

At least, that’s what I used to think before given an assignment where I had to relate a classic to a text “in my own world”. I didn’t like classics before, and some I’m still not interested in, but after analyzing one for the assignment I realized there is much I can relate to. I started to see the relation and it was pretty surprising. And there really wasn’t that big of a generation gap.

As a very big fan of music, I have a lot of connections to songs and my life. One of the main reasons I love it so much is because it’s so similar to my situations and how I feel, so I always love to tie it to anything I can. In this particular assignment, I found a song that I think is a shorter, more modern version of the idea behind J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.

“Somewhere in Neverland” by All Time Low closely resembles the story of The Catcher in the Rye. The song talks about a boy in between adolescence and adulthood who doesn’t want to grow up. He doesn’t want to get a job and a life on his own. He feels lost “with no compass to guide”, much like Holden during his stay in New York. He wishes he could start over and be “forever young” and innocent, which is why Holden admires children.

In the song, the boy wants to run away with a girl to Neverland, a place where time stops and everything just keeps going around and around like the carousel. Holden just wants to go to a place where everything can stay the same, something he also likes about his memories of the Museum of Natural History museum. Holden proposes the idea of running away with Sally so they can escape the inevitability of growing up and having responsibilities. He wants to “start a life of the plain and the simple” when he has the idea of staying in a cabin in the woods away from the real world. This song is a close interpretation of the book and ties in with the ideas and themes very well.

-Sabrina C., 10th Grade

I’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil

imgladididit_cynthiaweilThe Big Apple.  Summer.  1963.  JJ Green. The Music Business.  Room for adventure.

JJ Green, a 16 year old girl, is one to speak her mind.  It has always been her dream to write songs, but there is a slight problem. There are three unbreakable rules in the Green family:

1. The Greens always eat breakfast together.
2. The Greens always negotiate instead of arguing.
3. The Greens always become lawyers.

As I read these first few pages, a song automatically popped into my head: “We are Family” by Sister Sledge.  The Greens were happy family, and especially in the 1960s, families stuck together. This song portrayed the scene of family life perfectly. But JJ shies away from these rules, for her wish is to become a songwriter.  Behind her parents’ back she applies for a job at the music business where her ‘disowned’ uncle works.  He calls it the place where songs are born.  Her parents call it the place where dreams are lost. On the contrary, Bobby, the producer, loves JJ’s talent and hires her as an intern for the summer.  When JJ finally shares her exciting news to her unenthusiastic parents, they are furious. Reluctantly, after tireless debates, they sign the paperwork, but they still are not approving of JJ’s decision. Her parents, then, make a deal: If JJ doesn’t get a song recorded by the time school starts in the fall, she will work as a lawyer. JJ doesn’t feel threatened by this arrangement at all.  At this point I thought of the song, “One Way or Another” by Blondie.  Somehow, somewhere, sometime she will get a record.

However, when the time comes to actually write the song, JJ’s fingers stop.  Her creative juices halt.  Her mind goes blank.  This may be a lot tougher than she set out for it to be.  Until she meets Dulcie Brown, her life flashes before her eyes, of thoughts of the deal with her parents. She cannot live the rest of her life as a lawyer; it just won’t do.  Dulcie, a negro jazz singer with an amazing voice, now a custodian at for the producer, can help her through this rough spot in her career. But things take a wild turn. Although a beautiful song is written, JJ’s heart is broken.

I would rate this book 5/5 stars for its originality and incredible authencity because it was written by an actual songwriter, Cynthia Weil.  I loved the historical fiction aspect as well as her unique style of creative writing.

-Maya S., 7th Grade

I’m Glad I Did is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.

Music Pairings: The Fairyland series, by Catherynne M. Valente

This wonderfully-written small series starts out with a 12-year-old girl, September, living her own life with only her mother and her father away at war until one night she falls into another dimension where she meets the best of friends and starts the adventure that has been waiting for her since the day she was born.

girl_who1The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making

She woke up to world full of vibrant colors and rich foods with birds and all sorts of animals welcoming her to Fairyland.  She learns many things including an expedition of her own and also finds out things she might not have wanted to know.  September discovers the ‘enemy’ is just a mirror of herself.   She battles her own brains and wits.  Her time has run out in Fairyland.  She must return to civilization.

The perfect soundtrack for this scene would be Get Back by the Beatles because the song shows that life is not perfect, and sometimes you have to ‘Get Back to where you once belonged’. She returns to a place where there is smog everywhere, the food on her plate is not good quality, and where the birds sing a sad tired song instead of a skipping happy one in Fairyland.  Will September accomplish what she set out to do?  Would the final song be We are the Champions by Queen while the credits roll?

girl_who2The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

September has been waiting for almost a year to go back to Fairyland.  If this were a movie, I think as they start the movie when the producer and executive producer–and the other almost ‘annoying’ information is displayed that just delays the start of the movie–the song should be You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones because she was expecting that she was going to be able to go to Fairyland again in the spring.   But like it says in the song ‘If you try sometimes, you just might find… you get what you need!’  September got what was needed.  On the night of September’s 13th birthday, she was called into the delight of Fairyland.  Instead of Fairyland-Above, she fell beneath Fairyland where she went on another adventure, but this time without her normal friends.  She strived to get the one part of the puzzle that will satisfy her forever.  I picture the song We are Family by Sister Pledge connected with this scene for the emotion.  When she walked back home that night, she saw two figures talking under the porch light.  She ran toward them…

I would recommend these 10-out-of-10 novels to any middle grader who thinks they have a spark of adventure in them.

-Maya S., 6th grade