By Claudia Pascual
On Thursday, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in literature. For those who don’t know, Bob Dylan is one of the most influential musicians and songwriters in American folk music. His unexpected win perplexed and enraged critics. They didn’t understand why a musician (not a professional writer) won the prize for literature. Even though it’s kind of weird to give the award to a musician, people should remember that music and lyrics can be just as influential, powerful and revolutionary as a book. Dylan’s win sparked a controversial conversation about whether songwriters should be nominated for the prestigious Nobel Prize in literature. Regardless, I believe there are many brilliant songwriters who should receive the prize for their works of poetry. Here are five magnificent musicians that are just as worthy of the prize:
1. Tupac Shakur
If you’re a fan of the California-loving rapper, you know that 2Pac lives on. The hip-hop genius broke stereotypes in the R&B music industry. Inspired by Shakespeare and Machiavelli, Tupac exposed the truth on gang wars and the social injustices African Americans face. In 2010, his song “Dear Mama” was added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress. The song voices the struggles of his mother and all the mothers who are raising a family while living in hard circumstances.
Most influential lyrics: “A poor single mother on welfare, tell me how ya did it / There’s no way I can pay you back / But the plan is to show you that I understand / You are appreciated” from “Dear Mama.”
2. Anthony Kiedis
The lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers is more than a flawless, handsome man who is always shirtless. Kiedis is a true poet worthy of every literature and poetry prize. Many of his psychedelic and dark lyrics make references to history, poetry, philosophy and addiction. Other than bass player Flea’s mad skills, the lyrics to the band’s songs are what differentiate them from other rock bands and categorize them as alternative funk music.
Most powerful lyrics: “Comin’ on strong / Baudelaire/Seems to me like / All the world gets high / When you take a dare / Let it rise before you / This is my crime” from “Tear.”
3. Stevie Nicks
Before going solo, the badass female member of Fleetwood Mac poured her heart out into every song. The haunting sense of melancholy and passion in Nicks’ words came from her constant love conflicts and drama between band members. The delicate lyrics in her songs allude to the universally relatable truth that human survival is based on love and dependence on others.
Most famous lyrics: “Who wants to wrap around your dreams and… / Have you any dreams you’d like to sell? / Dreams of loneliness…” from “Dreams.”
4. Gustavo Cerati
The late Argentinian musician, who had a long run with Soda Stereo before his solo career, is responsible for revolutionizing Latin American rock music. Pure poetry, his complex lyrics are difficult to unravel and analyze. Many of his songs touch philosophical themes, such as the essence of existing and finding the truth. His sensual, sort of hippie, yet obscure lyrics transport you to your deepest thoughts about life, love and friendship. Fun fact: he wrote songs for old-school, gypsy Shakira.
Most beautiful lyrics: “Quedabas esperando ecos que no volverán / Flotando entre rechazos / Del mismo dolor / Vendrá un nuevo amanecer” from “Adios.”
English translation: “You stay there waiting for echoes that won’t return / lingering between rejections / from the same pain / a new sunrise will come”
5. Bob Marley
He spread the message of revolution, love and peace while showing red, yellow, green and black colors of the Rastafarians to the world. He made reggae music universal and acclaimed international fame through his spiritual lyrics. Through his lyrics, he protested against social and political injustices generated by corrupt dominant people. His lyrics served as the eternal message to never give up the fight against evil, which will in the end lead us to unity and peace.
Most powerful lyrics: “Most people think, / Great God will come from the skies, / Take away everything/And make everybody feel high./But if you know what life is worth, / You will look for yours on earth: / and now you see the light, / You stand up for your rights. Jah!” from “Get Up, Stand Up”