Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin‘.

This segment of Bob Dylan’s famous song could not have been more prophetic. The times are indeed changing. The legendary singer’s role was further elevated when he was announced the winner of the Nobel Prize in literature. The Swedish Academy’s decision to grant Dylan the prize has caused a stir online. On one hand, staunch supporters and fans alike are celebrating the icon’s achievements. On the other hand, the committee’s decision drew the ire of those who felt that the committee had snubbed other deserving candidates. Whichever side of the debate one falls on, it is undeniable that Bob Dylan made a lasting impact with his work.

Here is a quick overview of his style and contributions to the field.

Dylan’s lyrics incorporate a wide range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences. They defied existing pop music conventions and appealed to the burgeoning counterculture. For example, Dylan’s topical songs enhanced his early reputation, and he came to be seen as more than just a songwriter. As famous journalist and literary critic, Janet Maslin wrote of Freewheelin‘:

These were the songs that established Dylan as the voice of his generation—someone who implicitly understood how concerned young Americans felt about nuclear disarmament and the growing movement for civil rights: his mixture of moral authority and nonconformity was perhaps the most timely of his attributes.

His famous song “Blowin in the Wind” is said to capture this spirit.

Since 1994, Dylan has published six books of drawings and paintings, and his work has been exhibited in major art galleries. As a musician, Dylan has sold more than 100 million records, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He has also received numerous awards including eleven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award. And now, he has entered the pantheon of select artists with a Nobel Prize.