When musician Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature last year, there was no word from him.
When the recipients of the award gathered in Stockholm to receive their awards and give lectures on their subject, Bob Dylan was not among them.
But the singer has finally received his award. On Monday, June 5, the Nobel Foundation released his lecture, a prerequisite to receiving the award. The lecture is 27 minutes long and is about how Dylan has grappled with whether song lyrics can be constituted as literature.
Winners must give a lecture by June 10 and Bob Dylan sent his in just in time. Along with the award, recipients also get $924,000.
Here are some takeaways from the speech:
He talks about how tried to figure out the connection between his literature and song lyrics.
He spoke about his hero Buddy Holly. He was one of the first people who inspired him. “He was everything I wanted to be,” he said.
“He filled me with conviction. He looked me right straight dead in the eye, and he transmitted something. Something I didn’t know what. And it gave me the chills.”
Dylan talks about the works that have inspired him: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, The Odyssey by Homer, and Moby Dick by Herman Melville. The themes from those books worked themselves into the themes of his songs.
Moby Dick helped Dylan with learning how to intertwine character’s voices. He admires the high drama of the book.
About All Quiet on the Western Front, he says, “This is a book where you lose your childhood, your faith in a meaningful world and your concern for individuals. You’re stuck in a nightmare, sucked up into a mysterious whirlpool of death and pain. You’re defending yourself from elimination.”
Dylan was fascinated with The Odyssey’s description of the hero’s wanderings, mistakes and how he finds his way.
He says that songs have similarities with literature, but they are also very different. “They’re meant to be sung, not read.” He says that he wants people to interact with his lyrics the way they were intended to be heard — in songs at a concert or on record or “however people are listening to songs these days”.
He says that literature has influenced him in conscious and subconscious ways and that you don’t have to understand everything about a poem, song or book to have it move you.
“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.”
Picture Credit: Rolling Stone