Finally, it’s the time for Dylanphiles to breathe in relief as Bob Dylan is a Nobel Laureate at last. As you all can recall, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature last October. But, to officially collect the prize and the bundle of cash coming along with it, the winner must a deliver a lecture within the six-month deadline, in the Swedish Academy’s award ceremony in December.
Bob Dylan skips the event, as he claimed that he couldn’t attend the event because of some “previous commitments”. As he didn’t attend the event and delivers the lecture, he was given the deadline of June 10th. When he came to Stockholm, during April tour stop, to receive the Nobel medal, he looked more like a burglar than a Nobel Laureate, as he sneaked in private prize hand-off through a service door. Dylan finally submits his Nobel lecture on June 5th, which was four thousand and eight words long. In a recording of his Nobel lecture, which he submitted this week, Bob Dylan sounds like a lounge singer lost in contemplative patter, just letting the thoughts flow. The transcript was accompanied by an audio recording of Mr. Dylan reading his speech with an unusual sonic touch: jazzy piano chords floating in the background.
The lecture’s first revelation is that Dylan has spent the past eight months asking himself the same question as the rest of us. “When I first received this Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering how my songs related to literature. I wanted to reflect on it and see where the connection was,” he begins. Dylan was grateful for the Nobel and this also seems very humble and honest, considering that he won the award at an expense of a poet or a novelist.
Dylan acknowledges the performers who first drew his attention towards Music – Buddy Holly and Leadbelly. In his Nobel lecture, Dylan also cited three classics, which has informed his music all his life: “Moby-Dick,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” and the “Odyssey” and then he goes on to describe each of them.
At the end of his lecture, Dylan describes the moment in the Odyssey when Odysseus visits Achilles in the underworld. Achilles tells him that trading a long life of peace for a short one of honor and glory was a mistake. He is dead for eternity; “if he could, he would choose to go back and be a lowly slave to a tenant farmer on Earth rather than be what he is—a king in the land of the dead,” Dylan says. “That’s what songs are, too. Our songs are alive in the land of the living.” Dylan never needed to make that trade as he certainly has had more than one lives and all of them adding up to one long life with enough glory and honor to last awhile.
A day will come when he too will go down to the ground but his song will remain with us till the world lasts.