In addition to Patti Smith honoring Dylan with a rendition of his “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” the 75-year-old folk singer penned a heartfelt speech, which was read inside the Stockholm Concert Hall.
In the statement, Dylan apologized for his absence and acknowledged his gratitude — and surprise — for being awarded the distinction.
“I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but please know that I am most definitely with you in spirit and honored to be receiving such a prestigious prize,” Dylan said. “Being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature is something I never could have imagined or seen coming. From an early age, I’ve been familiar with and reading and absorbing the works of those who were deemed worthy of such a distinction: Kipling, Shaw, Thomas Mann, Pearl Buck, Albert Camus, Hemingway. These giants of literature whose works are taught in the schoolroom, housed in libraries around the world and spoken of in reverent tones have always made a deep impression. That I now join the names on such a list is truly beyond words.”
Dylan likened his chances to winning a Nobel Prize to “standing on the moon,” and addressed the controversy around him being chosen for the literary prize.
Referencing Shakespeare, he said, “the thought that he was writing literature couldn’t have entered his head. His words were written for the stage. Meant to be spoken not read.”
Read the entire speech below: