In Nobel speech, Bob Dylan reminisces on 'powerful and electrifying' Minn. Buddy Holly concert
Just under the required deadline, Bob Dylan has delivered his official Nobel Prize lecture — and he leads it off by talking about seeing Buddy Holly perform in Duluth.
It's a topic the Duluth-born, Hibbing-raised singer-songwriter has discussed before — including in his acceptance speech for Album of the Year at the 1998 Grammy Awards. In his Nobel lecture — delivered in the form of an audio recording — Dylan says that Holly felt like an older brother, and that he "was the archetype. Everything I wasn't and wanted to be."
Dylan traveled from Hibbing to watch Holly perform at the Duluth Armory on Jan. 31, 1959; Holly died in a plane crash three days later.
"I had to travel a hundred miles to get to see him play, and I wasn't disappointed. He was powerful and electrifying and had a commanding presence. ... He was mesmerizing," Dylan says. "... Something about him seemed permanent, and he filled me with conviction."
Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature last fall and accepted the Nobel medal and diploma at a private ceremony in April, in connection with a visit to Stockholm for two sold-out concerts.
But Nobel laureates need to give a lecture within six months from the Dec. 10 award ceremony in order to receive the monetary prize of more than $900,000.
The Swedish Academy's decision to award last year's prize for literature to Dylan, who it said had "created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition," was seen by some as a slap in the face by some mainstream writers of poetry and prose.
In the rest of his lecture, Dylan — accompanied by piano in the background — describes books and music that influenced his life, and how his songs relate to literature. He expresses admiration for "Moby Dick," "All Quiet on the Western Front" and "The Odyssey," and talks about some of the themes in those works.
"Myself and a lot of other songwriters have been influenced by these very same themes. And they can mean a lot of different things. If a song moves you, that's all that's important. I don't have to know what a song means," Dylan says. "I've written all kinds of things into my songs. And I'm not going to worry about it — what it all means."
"The speech is extraordinary and, as one might expect, eloquent. Now that the lecture has been delivered, the Dylan adventure is coming to a close," Swedish Academy secretary Sara Danius said in a statement.
Find the entire lecture here.