In case you didn’t know this: Nobel Prize winners are required to give a lecture in order to receive their prize money.
Bob Dylan, the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, has finally given his required talk. And you can listen to it in the above video.
The prize was announced in October of last year, and Dylan took weeks to accept the honor, maybe because “the news about the Nobel Prize left me speechless,” as he told the Swedish Academy in his acceptance, according to a Nobel Foundation press release. Recent winners include Svetlana Alexievich in 2015, Patrick Modiano in 2014 and Alice Munro in 2013.
Dylan has won multiple Grammys and several other awards in his career, but isn’t always consistent in how he accepts them. He has delivered acceptance speeches for many, however.
At the December Nobel ceremony in Stockholm, Dylan was absent, and remarks were read on his behalf by the United States Ambassador to Sweden Azita Raji. The musician did receive his diploma and medal in April, but had to give the requisite lecture to cash in on the prize money, 8 million Swedish kronor, or $922,000.
Connecting his musical work to literature was one thing Dylan tried to do in his speech, which came out more like a spoken-word poem than a lecture. He talked about his early role model Buddy Holly, who Dylan saw perform just days before the legend died in a plane crash — “something about him felt permanent,” he said. Recorded Sunday night in Los Angeles, the nearly 30-minute lecture is available to listen to on YouTube (above).
Dylan also discussed how literature influenced his music and worldview. Of grammar-school classics like “Robinson Crusoe” and “A Tale of Two Cities,” among several others, he said “they gave you a way of looking at life, an understanding of human nature, and a standard to measure things by.”
“I took all that with me when I started composing lyrics,” he said. “And the themes from those books work their way into many of my songs whether knowingly or unintentionally. I wanted to write songs unlike anything anybody had ever heard.”