Dylan the poet

From Buddy Holly to Moby Dick, here’s what inspired Bob Dylan to write searing, soul-searching songs.

As the world knows, Dylan is the first songwriter to be awarded the Nobel prize for literature. He was given the award in 2016 “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”


Dylan couldn’t attend the awards ceremony in Stockholm due to prior commitments, but he sent along a video that eloquently revealed his deep intellect, a love of literary classics, and profound sensitivity to the pain and joy in life.

“When I received this Nobel prize for literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature,” Dylan begins the video.

The first influence on his creativity was Buddy Holly, whose music “changed my life,” Dylan said. And Buddy’s death in a plane crash at 22 broke his heart.

Dylan spoke about the novels in literature that stirred his heart and soul, including Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, and Homer’s The Odyssey.

The first 6 minutes of Dylan’s Nobel acceptance video:

The full 27-minute video contains the usual YouTube clutter but has the advantage of captions if you have trouble hearing every word, as I did. Here it is.


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