Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature last year, but in order for him to collect the over $900,000 in prize money, he was required to deliver a lecture by June 10. He’s just now done that with only days to spare, with a 27-minute presentation recorded in Los Angeles on Sunday that’s been posted on NobelPrize.org and the Nobel Prize’s official YouTube channel.
In the address, Dylan discusses his musical and literary influences, while also examining three classic books he says had particular impact on his writing — Herman Melville‘s Moby Dick, Erich Maria Remarque‘s All Quiet on the Western Front, and Homer‘s The Odyssey.
Dylan starts by talking about how much Buddy Holly influenced him, noting that the late musician wrote songs “that had beautiful melodies and imaginative verses,” and that fused together country western, rock ‘n’ roll and R&B.
Bob then discusses how he became enamored with folk music after hearing Leadbelly‘s “Cottonfields.” He explains how he went on to learn all kinds of folk tunes, then used elements of them in his own songs.
Dylan says he combined his knowledge of folk music with “principals and sensibilities and an informed view of the world” that he developed in school by reading classic books such as Don Quixote, Ivanhoe, Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels.
After talking at length about Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front and The Odyssey, Dylan points out that “songs are unlike literature. They’re meant to be sung, not read. He adds, “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.”
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