- 30 Mar 17
It's been a long time coming, as Sam Cooke once sang, but it's a case of better late than never when it comes to Bob Dylan.....the music icon has now surprisingly agreed to accept his Nobel Prize for Literature in person from the academy when he visits the Swedish capital this weekend.
"The good news is that the Swedish Academy and Bob Dylan have decided to meet this weekend," Prof Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, wrote in a blog.
"The Academy will then hand over Dylan's Nobel diploma and the Nobel medal, and congratulate him on the Nobel Prize in Literature. The setting will be small and intimate, and no media will be present; only Bob Dylan and members of the Academy will attend, all according to Dylan's wishes."
Apart from failing to turn up to accept the prize last year, Bob Dylan has also failed to give a lecture that is required to receive the staggering 8m kroner ($900,000;£727,000) prize.
The deadline of June is fast approaching. But while Dylan will not give the lecture this weekend, it's understood that he has recorded one instead to present to the academy, which has been done on rare occasions in the past.
Bob Dylan said last year that it was a great honour to receive “such a prestigious prize” – but confessed that he always thought he’d just about the same chance of going to the moon as he did of being the first singer-songwriter to be deemed a worthy enough winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
In Bob Dylan's acceptance speech, which was read out on his behalf at the Nobel Banquet back in December by US Ambassador to Sweden, Azita Raji, Dylan admitted that winning the Nobel Prize for Literature came as a much of a shock to himself as it had to the rest of the world.
“If someone had ever told me that I had the slightest chance of winning the Nobel Prize, I would have to think that I’d have about the same odds as standing on the moon,” he revealed.
“In fact, during the year I was born and for a few years after, there wasn’t anyone in the world who was considered good enough to win this Nobel Prize. So, I recognize that I am in very rare company, to say the least.”
At the Nobel prize-giving ceremony, Patti Smith performed Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ but had to stop mid-song and restart her performance because she forgot the lyrics during the ceremony on 10 December .
“I apologize. I'm sorry, I'm so nervous," Smith said to the audience in Stockholm’s Concert Hall, before asking the orchestra to start over.
Here’s Patti Smith’s performance at the ceremony:
Dylan's selection for the Nobel Prize raised many eyebrows within the world of literature, mostly from disgruntled writers who themselves have failed so far to get their hands on this holy grail prize.
Back in December, Best-selling author Stephen King dismissed the criticism of Dylan becoming the first singer-songwriter to win the Nobel Prize for Literature as nothing more than “just plain old sour grapes”.
The author of ‘Misery’ and ‘The Shinning’ says he was “over the moon” when he heard Bob Dylan was to receive the prestigious accolade. "I read it over my breakfast. It's like remembering where you were when Kennedy was shot,” he says.
The king of horror pointed out that he never met Bob Dylan, but has been a huge fan of his music and, in particular his lyrics, ever since he first went to one of his gigs back in 1975 while writing his first major blockbuster ‘Carrie’ .
Asked for his thoughts about the criticism directed at the iconic singer-songwriter being awarded the Nobel Prize, King told Rolling Stones magazine: “People complaining about his Nobel either don't understand or it's just a plain old case of sour grapes.
"I've seen several literary writers who have turned their noses up at the Dylan thing, like Gary Shteyngart. Well, I've got news for you, Gary: There are a lot of deserving writers who have never gotten the Nobel Prize. And Gary Shteyngart will probably be one of them. That's no reflection on his work. You have to rise to the level of a Faulkner if you're an American.
“My kids listen to Dylan, and so do my grandkids. That's three generations. That's real longevity and quality. Most people in pop music are like moths around a bug light; they circle for a while and then there's a bright flash and they're gone. Not Dylan,” he concludes.
Here’s Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech in full:
“Good evening, everyone. I extend my warmest greetings to the members of the Swedish Academy and to all of the other distinguished guests in attendance tonight.
“I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but please know that I am most definitely with you in spirit and honored to be receiving such a prestigious prize. Being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature is something I never could have imagined or seen coming. From an early age, I’ve been familiar with and reading and absorbing the works of those who were deemed worthy of such a distinction: Kipling, Shaw, Thomas Mann, Pearl Buck, Albert Camus, Hemingway. These giants of literature whose works are taught in the schoolroom, housed in libraries around the world and spoken of in reverent tones have always made a deep impression. That I now join the names on such a list is truly beyond words.
“I don’t know if these men and women ever thought of the Nobel honor for themselves, but I suppose that anyone writing a book, or a poem, or a play anywhere in the world might harbor that secret dream deep down inside. It’s probably buried so deep that they don’t even know it’s there.
"If someone had ever told me that I had the slightest chance of winning the Nobel Prize, I would have to think that I’d have about the same odds as standing on the moon. In fact, during the year I was born and for a few years after, there wasn’t anyone in the world who was considered good enough to win this Nobel Prize. So, I recognize that I am in very rare company, to say the least.
“I was out on the road when I received this surprising news, and it took me more than a few minutes to properly process it. I began to think about William Shakespeare, the great literary figure. I would reckon he thought of himself as a dramatist. The thought that he was writing literature couldn’t have entered his head. His words were written for the stage. Meant to be spoken not read. When he was writing Hamlet, I’m sure he was thinking about a lot of different things: ‘Who’re the right actors for these roles?’ ‘How should this be staged?’ ‘Do I really want to set this in Denmark?’ His creative vision and ambitions were no doubt at the forefront of his mind, but there were also more mundane matters to consider and deal with. ‘Is the financing in place?’ ‘Are there enough good seats for my patrons?’ ‘Where am I going to get a human skull?’ I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question “Is this literature?”
“When I started writing songs as a teenager, and even as I started to achieve some renown for my abilities, my aspirations for these songs only went so far. I thought they could be heard in coffee houses or bars, maybe later in places like Carnegie Hall, the London Palladium. If I was really dreaming big, maybe I could imagine getting to make a record and then hearing my songs on the radio. That was really the big prize in my mind. Making records and hearing your songs on the radio meant that you were reaching a big audience and that you might get to keep doing what you had set out to do.
“Well, I’ve been doing what I set out to do for a long time, now. I’ve made dozens of records and played thousands of concerts all around the world. But it’s my songs that are at the vital center of almost everything I do. They seemed to have found a place in the lives of many people throughout many different cultures and I’m grateful for that.
"But there’s one thing I must say. As a performer I’ve played for 50,000 people and I’ve played for 50 people and I can tell you that it is harder to play for 50 people. 50,000 people have a singular persona, not so with 50. Each person has an individual, separate identity, a world unto themselves. “They can perceive things more clearly. Your honesty and how it relates to the depth of your talent is tried. The fact that the Nobel committee is so small is not lost on me.
“But, like Shakespeare, I too am often occupied with the pursuit of my creative endeavors and dealing with all aspects of life’s mundane matters. ‘Who are the best musicians for these songs?’ ‘Am I recording in the right studio?’ ‘Is this song in the right key?’ Some things never change, even in 400 years.
“Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, ‘Are my songs literature?’
“So, I do thank the Swedish Academy, both for taking the time to consider that very question, and, ultimately, for providing such a wonderful answer.
“My best wishes to you all,