Bob Dylan finally delivers Nobel Prize lecture, mere days ahead of deadlineRob Moran
Published: June 6 2017 - 10:04PMIf he missed the cut-off, he wouldn't get his $1.2 million prizemoney.
Even Nobel Prize winners are procrastinators, it seems.
Musician Bob Dylan has finally delivered his Nobel lecture, a prerequisite for the award's accompanying prizemoney, almost eight months after he was controversially awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in October.
The singer had been granted six months from December 10, the date of the Nobel Prize ceremony, to deliver his lecture in order to receive the 8 million krona ($1.2 million) prizemoney.
He made the deadline with just days to spare.
In the 30-minute address, reportedly sent to the Nobel Prize academy via audio link, Dylan waxes poetic on the connection between his song lyrics – "folk lingo, the only vocabulary I knew" – and classic literature, as jazzy piano chords play in the background.
In a pronounced laconic drawl that online commenters have compared to late comedian Mitch Hedberg, the musician discusses his early admiration of Buddy Holly and black blues and folk music, before breaking down the formative novels he read in grammar school – Moby Dick, All Quiet On The Western Front, and The Odyssey – whose themes, he says, later informed his music.
"If a song moves you, that's all that's important," he says in the speech. "I've written all kinds of things into my songs. And I'm not going to worry about it – what it all means."
Dylan's enthusiastic English tutorial was praised by the Swedish academy's permanent secretary Sara Danius, who called the speech "extraordinary and, as one might expect, eloquent," in a blog post.
"Now that the lecture has been delivered, the Dylan adventure is coming to a close," she wrote.
And perhaps not too soon, the added subtext might imply, as the musician ruffled feathers over the lengthy course of his Nobel-winning saga.
As well as backlash over Dylan's own nonchalance over the prize – he refused to acknowledge the honour for weeks after his win, before announcing he would miss the December 10 ceremony, where the winner traditionally delivers their lecture, due to "pre-existing commitments" – the academy's initial announcement was met with criticism from author types, including Irvine Welsh and Gary Shteyngart, who thought the prize should've been awarded to a deserving novelist rather than a songwriter.
Dylan seemed to respond to those criticisms in his speech's closing stanza, saying "songs are unlike literature."
"The words in Shakespeare's plays were meant to be acted on the stage. Just as lyrics in songs are meant to be sung, not read on a page," he said.
"I hope some of you get the chance to listen to these lyrics the way they were intended to be heard: in concert or on record or however people are listening to songs these days."