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Nobel Prize in Literature

My favorite composer

Xavier Badosa Bob Dylan: tribute paid in scientific articles to lyrics from songsXavier Badosa

The choice of Bob Dylan for the Nobel Prize in Literature came as a surprise, but it was common knowledge that the composer’s works served as inspiration in situations closely related to that of the prize. In 2014, a Swedish magazine revealed that researchers at the Karolinska Institute, where the choice of the Nobel Prize in Medicine is made, have for a long time enjoyed sneaking some of Dylan’s lyrics into their scientific articles. The game started in 1997 with a paper entitled “Nitric oxide and inflammation: The answer is blowing in the wind.” In 2016, researchers at Karolinska decided to search for allusions to the composer’s songs in other periodicals. The result was an article in the journal The BMJ. In the MedLine database of medical articles, 727 references to Dylan’s lyrics were found, 213 of which were unequivocal tributes. The first one appeared in 1970 in The Journal of Practical Nursing in the article “The times they are a-changin,” the title of a 1964 Dylan hit. There are 134 other articles that reproduced this song’s name in their titles to suggest that times were changing. “Blowin’ in the Wind” (1963) was the second most cited, with 36 references. The authors concluded that Dylan’s respect for the medical profession was mutual, as evidenced in a line of the song “Don’t fall apart on me tonight,” in which he says “I wish I’d have been a doctor.”