Listen: Nobel Winner Bob Dylan Releases Remarkable Speech on How His Words and Songs Relate to Literature

Bob Dylan received the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” This week, in a recording studio near Los Angeles, he recorded a 27-minute speech discussing the inspiration and arc of his creative life in words, sound and song.


“When I received the Nobel Prize for literature, I got to wondering how my songs related to literature,” Dylan began. “I wanted to reflect on it, and see where the connection was. I’m going to try to articulate that to you. And most likely it will go in a roundabout way, but I hope what I saw will be worthwhile and purposeful.”

Dylan goes back to his start, when Buddy Holly inspired him. He was 18 when Holly died in a plane crash at age 22, he recalls. He felt a kindred spirit, a brother in music who combined country western, rock-n-roll, and rhythm and blues. As Dylan says, “three separate strands of music that he entwined and infused into one genre, one brand.”

The Nobel Foundation has posted a YouTube video of the audio track of Dylan reading his speech with excerpts on the screen. It must be listened to, because, Dylan’s words—like poems and songs—must be heard. As he says, words and sounds do strange and pleasing things to those who utter them and those who listen.

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