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Bob Dylan Fulfills Nobel Academy's Lecture Requirement

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

At long last, Bob Dylan has something to say about his Nobel Prize for Literature. When the award was announced, the singer did not comment for weeks, and then he didn't show up for the official ceremony.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

He did ultimately accept the honor, but that required him to deliver a lecture, which he has now done.

MARTIN: He delivered it in a 26-minute recording with piano accompaniment. Sounds like a podcast.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BOB DYLAN: I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature.

INSKEEP: And in his monologue, Dylan refers to three books - "Moby Dick," "All Quiet On The Western Front" and "The Odyssey."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DYLAN: They gave you a way of looking at life and understanding of human nature and a standard to measure things by. I took all that with me when I started composing lyrics. And the themes from those books worked their way into many of my songs either knowingly or unintentionally.

MARTIN: In what sounds almost like a long and laid-back Dylan song, he dissects the stories and the images of the books. He says they influenced his songwriting. Then he comes to a conclusion.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DYLAN: But songs are unlike literature. They're meant to be sung, not read. The words in Shakespeare's plays were meant to be acted on the stage just as lyrics and songs are meant to be sung, not read on a page.

And 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. I return once again to Homer, who says, sing in me, old muse, and through me tell the story.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T THINK TWICE, IT'S ALL RIGHT")

DYLAN: (Singing) Well, it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe.

INSKEEP: Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan has been singing for decades. It's easy to criticize his voice, yet he's always had a voice for storytelling, which is now bit better explained.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T THINK TWICE, IT'S ALL RIGHT")

DYLAN: (Singing) It'll never do somehow. When your rooster crows at the break of dawn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.