When Bob Dylan became the first pop musician awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, I recalled that Leonard Cohen was the first pop musician to win the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature (2011) and Cohen and Chuck Berry were the inaugural recipients (in 2012) of the PEN New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award.1
In his PEN Award acceptance speech, Leonard Cohen claimed he and Chuck Barry were chosen as the first recipients of the honor on “the basis of seniority.” As I pointed out in a Feb 2012 post, I hesitate to disagree with this site’s icon of choice, but I am obligated to point out that he – and the many periodicals, broadcast stations, and online sites reporting on this event – have inexplicably overlooked two other rather obvious attributes common to him and the Father of Rock and Roll that were either coincidences on a cosmic scale or, one must assume, weighed in the judges’ decision to confer this honor upon them:
- Signature hats
- Bolo ties
And, the naming of Bob Dylan as Nobel Laureate further supports this observation. Check out the composite photo atop this post: three literary award-winning musicians who are senior artists adorned with bolo ties and distinctive headgear.
How To Win A Major Literary Award As A Musician
So, for all you aspiring literary award winners, Cohencentric offers these recommendations based on the Cohen-Dylan-Berry Criteria:
- Do not, advice from The Who notwithstanding, die before you get old.
- Wear a hat that fits your style.
- Drape a nifty bolo tie around your neck.
- Write exquisite song lyrics.
Credit Due Department: Leonard Cohen photo by Ashley Tanasiychuk. Chuck Berry photo by Masahiro Sumori – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia. Bob Dylan photo by Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz – Bob Dylan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia
- Wouldn’t you think that an organization of “poets, playwrights, essayists, editors, and novelists” could come up with a name for their prize that flows off the tongue more trippingly than “The PEN New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award?” [↩]