Prince on stage at the 2007 Superbowl during his famous half-time performance.
Ahead of the release of the artist’s posthumous album, a sense of awe and mystery around his huge archive of unreleased music remains
Samantha Morton in Code 46.
BBC Films, BBC, Kailash Picture Company
A somewhat obscure 2003 science-fiction film has a luminous soundtrack, which brings surprising solace to a locked down world.
Then – as now – Americans found themselves transfixed by the news.
International Center of Photography
During our current bout of collective trauma, many of our coping strategies have mimicked the ways Americans responded to the Kennedy assassination.
The Supremes, with their polished performances and family-friendly lyrics, helped to bridge a cultural divide and temper racial tensions.
Fifty years ago, Sly and the Family Stone sang ‘We got to live together, I am no better and neither are you.’ The words ring just as true today.
That year, the pillars of 1960s pop music released unfocused, confused albums.
A few musicians metaphorically took to the streets. But most fled for cover.
What is it about Westerns that tempts so many musicians into ten-gallon hats?
Robert Plant, the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, performs in Hamburg, Germany in 1973.
How can a band so slavishly derivative – and sometimes downright plagiaristic – be also considered radically innovative and influential?
The Rolling Stones performing in Hamburg during the ‘No Filter’ European tour: the band’s legacy is entwined with the pioneers of black American music.
Morris Mac Matzen/Reuters
Pinching musical phrases and stylistic approaches has always been a part of art making and can be a respectful exchange. But shallow, ill-informed appropriation only perpetuates tired stereotypes.
Bootlegs - across formats - have experienced buoyancy within the music marketplace for the last 40 years or so.
Bootlegs will continue to be manufactured.
The future of the bootleg might just reinvent the official release.
Music fans gather for the Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter’ concert at California’s Altamont Speedway in 1969.
Musicians were able to connect with confused, scared and angry Americans – including those who supported the war – in a way actors, broadcasters and writers could not.
Odysseus and his crew escape the cyclops, as painted by Arnold Böcklin in 1896.
The story of the Odyssey is a quintessential quest that relates to the passage through life and the importance of love, family and home. Odysseus’s adventures have influenced everyone from Batman to Bob Dylan.
Bob Dylan in 1991.
Bob Dylan said songs are meant to be sung not read, and he has a point. Songs and poems obey different rules.
Bob Dylan pictured in 2012: his long synopses of a seemingly random list of books made up the bulk of this week’s Nobel Prize speech.
This extraordinarily odd speech might well be the singer’s most Dylanesque performance.
Dylan: not leaning on his guitar.
Xavier Badosa via Flickr
He was criticised for leaning on the crutch of his guitar, but if Dylan leaned on anything, it was his love of poetry.
Leonard Cohen in 2008, just before he was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Perhaps more clearly than Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen showed that songwriting can be a literary art. Within his apparently simple words lies a profound sense of playfulness and enigma.
What does the Nobel mean for America?
Immigrants have contributed to America’s great success at the Nobel. Of the 350 Nobel winners from the United States, more than 100 have been immigrants.
What counts as literature? It’s less to do with genre than we think.
A portrait of Indian poet and musician Rabindranath Tagore.
In 1913, an Indian literary giant named Rabindranath Tagore was the first non-white person to win the literature prize. He wrote over 2,000 songs and, like Dylan’s, they still resonate today.
Is Bob Dylan a poet in the great tradition of Sappho?
In the days of Sappho, John William Godward
Ancient poems were accompanied by a musical instrument called the lyre – from which we get the word ‘lyric’. ‘Literature’ and ‘poetry’ are categories of our own making - so moving beyond them in a major award seems long overdue.
Dylan is a musician, who has been well recognised in his field.
Were there really no poets or novelists or essayists - no people who have spent their lives in the field of literature - considered Nobel-worthy? This nostalgic decision is discourteous to writers.