Someone has been nominating Bob Dylan for the Nobel literature prize since 1997.

It’s no stretch, as an idea. It’s also about time. If there was no Dylan, none of the other, ineffably pompous criteria concerning art and influence would ever, even once, apply.

He has his Oscar, his Pulitzer, his many honorary degrees from St Andrews and lesser schools. He has a great many scholarly things attached, barnacle-like, to his name. All that’s left is to persuade the Swedish Academy that a peculiar circumstance of writing and performance is also, always, poetry.

We could even adopt him as our own, if it helped. Dylan probably knows more about the Scottish folk tradition than most Scottish folk. He has a weakness for our songs. If the SNP is casting the net wide, they could make an honorary Scot (another one) of the laird of Aultmore House, by Nethy Bridge, one of his many “homes”.

For Nationalism, it would mark an advance (God knows) on Brian Souter, Donald Trump, David Murray and the House of Windsor. It would certainly count as a triumph for the literature of Scotland. We’re short on poets, currently.

But Dylan doesn’t need that, and never has. He has fought shy of political manoeuvres since a little song, Blowin’ In The Wind, began to elicit odd, discrepant reactions from those who confused agit-pop with troubled juvenile art. As a matter of fact, the funniest thing about “Bob Dylan, Protest Singer” is the scarcity of any protest in his music over a long career.

He has objected to grand politics about as often as most of us have objected to local planning decisions. He has kept his mouth tight shut for near 40 years. Those imagined songs, that “Voice of a Generation” stuff, were in large part the products of someone’s wishful thinking. Where was Dylan throughout the Vietnam war? The roughly factual answer: down in a basement, drunk.

That’s a little brusque. Pressed, Dylan has argued that our party-political democratic habits are neither here nor there. He has said (as much as he could ever be bothered) that “politics” misses the point of human existence. “Politics” goes around and comes around. Nothing changes. To wit: “You can hang back or fight your best on the front-line ... Sing a little bit of these workingman blues”.

Bob Dylan doesn’t do politics. He has been repeating himself on this point for a very long time. When on occasion he has involved himself in “an issue”, he has been accused of naivety, or worse, of indulging radical chic – the case of Reuben “Hurricane” Carter – or arraigned for simple stupidity. You have to pick among the facts, though, to see how those things happened.

Late in 1971, he picked up a phone, booked a studio, and did versions of a song entitled ‘George Jackson’. Some said the subject was a terrorist thug who had played liberal opinion; others thought George was the last best hope of black Marxist liberation, a man who knew full well he would be murdered in prison, and who chose to give it back, bullet for bullet. Tricky, then.

Trickier, though, for a pop star in the pre-Bono, pre-9/11 world. Trickier when you have cast aside all bien pensant advice about how a proper Voice of a Generation must sing and must, always, behave. People mistake Bob Dylan for naive. All those black bloc kids scurrying around London the other weekend could have done with a declarative statement as bold as “George Jackson”.

Like this: “Sometimes I think this whole world/ Is one big prison yard/ Some of us are prisoners/ The rest of us are guards”. That would do it for TopShop, I think.

Dylan isn’t an idiot. The present President of the United States was tickled, recently, when the National Treasure played a song at the White House. Afterwards, Obama said: “He wouldn’t come to the rehearsal. Usually, all these guys are practising before the set in the evening. He didn’t want to take a picture with me; usually all the talent is dying to take a picture with me and Michelle before the show. But he didn’t show up to that.”

Dylan was down to do The Times They Are A-Changin’ that day in DC in a commemorative show for the civil rights movement. As a young man he was there, in Washington, when Martin King spoke. He wrote the songs that were sung. But “come to the rehearsal”, as “the talent”? He’s Bob Dylan. The other guy is just the President of the United States.

My soft spot for Bob Dylan could be mistaken, most years, for a bruise. He’s one of two talents in the last 100 years that I cannot – the other was a painter – explain. I can tell you why ‘New Danville Girl’ and ‘Brownsville Girl’ are so very different. I can talk about the blues and the rebellions of fettered folk. I can tell you why he isn’t as bad in poetry as those real, dull, invented poets. I can talk about Bob Dylan, politics – and the rest – until a strayed milking cow comes home.

The only Bob Dylan I don’t understand is the one who agrees to be censored. These days, he doesn’t need the money – Aultmore was £2.2 million, five years back. With his catalogue, a certain boldness is allowed.

The point in dismissing politics is to grant freedom from every politician. Had you happened to be called Dylan, and written “Chimes of Freedom”, and then found yourself in the middle of TotalitarianCentral, it might resonate.

But no. Instead, a silence. Instead, he allowed those ancient Chinese inherited party goons to tell him what he may and may not sing. In fact, having abandoned a tour last year, Dylan just appeared at the Worker’s Gymnasium – fully one half of the Marxist problem – in Beijing, with 5000 “fans”, and with “approved content”.

We left a younger Bob, you’ll recall, drunk in a basement. He emerged from that soon enough with a song entitled “I Shall Be Released”. He then went on to do some stuff about the Spanish Steps, in Rome.

Inter alia, the Bob sang of folk, hack reporters too, beaten by pol-eess for speaking up. In Beijing, at the show, there was not a word of these things, least of all from the Voice of a Generation. Why not?

I could do special pleading. I could point out that he got away with “All Along The Watchtower”: a doom foretold, a secret prophecy. It’s no comfort. Being let down by Bob Dylan is not a big deal. It’s par – and he’s so old now, he plays golf – for the course. Only the songs remain to be explained. It turns out that they are a larger case, morally, than any person, or singer.

That was always a problem for “Bob Dylan”. A Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, has just disappeared into the totalitarian murk. Perhaps he’s “calling out that he’s been framed”. Perhaps we could get him out, and talk a regime to death. It wouldn’t cost “Bob Dylan” more than the effort of a raised eyebrow to care.

But if he does not, songs die. They’re not my songs, mercifully. So I venture. “Bob? Almost 70? That means ‘nothing to lose’.”