Listen To Bob Dylan’s Long-Awaited 30-Minute Nobel Lecture In Literature

first_imgIn April, folk hero Bob Dylan accepted the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature in April while in Sweden during a small ceremony restricted to a dozen or so people. His acceptance of the prize has been nontraditional to say the least, with the singer-songwriter skipping the celebration gala earlier in the year and taking months to even acknowledge his winning the prize in the first place. On top of that, the literary world was shaken when Dylan won the accolade, causing a rift between purveyors of more traditional writing and those with a more freeform understanding of what literature is. However, today, Dylan has finally delivered his Nobel lecture, which is a requirement for the musician to collect the 8 million kroner (approximately U.S. $900,000) in prize money.Read Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize Acceptance SpeechDylan’s lecture was delivered in the form of a thirty-minute long recording, during which the songwriter-cum-poet outlines how classic literature has affected his own song writing as well as delving into some folk traditions and how he’s internalized them. Dylan starts off by talking about seeing Buddy Holly when he was a young man, and how this performance (and the subsequent gift of a record at the show) opened the floodgates for him as a musician. From there, he talks about the folk vernacular and how he’s always understood the rhetoric commonly found in these songs. However, he then notes that in his quest to write music that was uniquely his own, he frequently called on his grammar school reading of classics, noting that he took those books with him when he started composing lyrics.At the center of the video are three classic novels: Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, and Homer’s The Odyssey. Over a background of quiet piano music, Dylan outlines the various themes found in each of these books, which he notes have worked their way into his into many of his own songs. For Moby Dick, there are a plethora of common themes and ideas calls out, frequently noting Melville’s tendency toward allegory, both Judeo-Christian or pagan, as well as the themes of good and evil and, on a surface level, how people react differently to the same experience. Dylan introduces All Quiet on the Western Front as a “horror story” and a “whirlpool of death and pain,” outlining the loss of innocence as well as life during wartime. He then darkly notes, “I never wanted to read another war novel again, and I never did.”Watch Patti Smith Perform Bob Dylan In His Place At Nobel Prize GalaFor the final book that Dylan speaks on, he talks about the ancient Greek epic, The Odyssey, outlining the mystical tale and the adventures of Odysseus. While the epic poem was written is believed to be written in the 8th century BC, Dylan speaks on the ability of modern audiences to relate to the text: “In a lot of ways these things have happened to you. You too have had drugs dropped into your wine, you too have shared a bed with the wrong woman, you too have been spellbound by magical voices — sweet voices, with strange melodies. You too have come so far, and have been so far blown back. And you’ve had close calls as well, you’ve angered people you should not have. You too have rambled this country all around, and you’ve also felt that ill wind — the wind that blows you no good.”After outlining these literary connections that have frequently worked their way into Dylan’s songs, the Nobel Prize winner’s final note is almost at odds with the former twenty-something minutes of his speech. Deconstructing his own work and these other literary text, he speaks on the unimportance of the messages in texts or songs, saying, “If a song moves you, that’s all that’s important. I don’t have to know what a song means. I’ve written all kinds of things into my songs, and I’m not going to worry about it — what it all means.” As the quiet piano in the background tapers off, after noting that “Lyrics are meant to be heard,” Bob Dylan quotes Homer, “Sing in me old muse, and through me, tell the story,” as the final thought of his speech.You can listen to Bob Dylan’s Nobel Lecture in Literature below.last_img

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