The famously enigmatic Bob Dylan might not have shown up to the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, as was expected, but he did provide an earnest speech that was read by the U.S. ambassador to Sweden last Saturday. Wrote Dylan, “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 wrote about how he was ultimately surprised when he had learned he’d won the Nobel in Literature, and about how it made him think of Shakespeare: The Bard, he posited, likely never wondered if he was making literature. “Like Shakespeare, I too am often occupied with the pursuit of my creative endeavors and dealing with all aspects of life’s mundane matters,” he said. “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.”
During the ceremony, Patti Smith paid tribute to Dylan by singing a rendition of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” Though she paused a couple times, citing nervousness, Smith, a legend herself, gave a moving performance that made audience members tear up. Chalk it up to Smith passion and these lyrics:
Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall