Bob Dylan, who has influenced generations of songwriters and artists, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature this Thursday. This is the first time this award has been presented to a musician for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

This award came in as a surprise for most and Dylan has now joined the ranks of T. S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, Gabriel García Márquez and Toni Morrison, to have been bestowed upon with the honour.

This, of course, did set off debate about whether songs should be put in the same category as novels or poetry but according to poet Billy Collins, “Bob Dylan is in the 2 percent club of songwriters whose lyrics are interesting on the page, even without the harmonica and the guitar and his very distinctive voice. I think he does qualify as poetry.”

This is not the first time that the academy has broadened the definition of literature because in the year 1953, Winston Churchill was the recipient of the same due to his brilliant speeches. When the question arose whether the decision to broaden the definition of literature was a good idea or not, Ms. Danius cheekily replied, “The times they are a-changing, perhaps”.

Bob Dylan, whose original name is Robert Allen Zimmerman, started off in 1961 and stood out among his peers with his protest songs that comprised some of the most brilliant lyrics, alongside some acoustic music that became a cult of sorts during that era.

He possesses the status of an icon and has also been honoured with the Grammy, the Golden Globe Award, the Academy Award and has been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the year 1988.