Singer and songwriter Bob Dylan admitted in the Nobel Prize speech he penned that he was always so caught up in his musical endeavors that he had never stopped to consider whether his lyrics had any literary merit.
Dylan, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in October for creating ‘new poetic expressions,’ officially accepted the honor on Saturday, with a speech that was read out loud by the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden.
“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 had the same odds as standing on the moon,” he wrote in his speech.
He also added that just the idea of being mentioned in the same breath as luminaries and “giants of literature” such as Rudyard Kipling, George Bernard Shaw and Albert Camus was “truly beyond words.”
The Nobel laureate, whose career has endured over half a century, said that when he first started out, he only dreamed of his records being played in coffee houses or bars, and “if I was really dreaming big…the radio.”
“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.
“The fact that the Nobel Committee is so small is not lost on me.”
At the banquet, earlier, Nobel Prize Committee member Horace Engdahl told the audience that it should not come as a surprise that a musician be awarded such a prestigious award.
“In a distant past, all poetry was sung or tunefully recited; poets were rhapsodists, bards, troubadours; ‘lyrics” comes from ‘lyre.” But what Bob Dylan did was not to return to the Greeks or the Provençals. Instead, he dedicated himself body and soul to 20th-century American popular music,” he said. “If people in the literary world groan, one must remind them that the gods don’t write, they dance and they sing.”