I Will Go To Stockholm For Bob

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News item: A member of the Swedish Academy called Bob Dylan “impolite and arrogant” for thus far ignoring winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. Repeated phone calls have gone unanswered. Dylan does not acknowledge winning the award while performing in concert — he appeared in Shreveport earlier this week — and a mention on his website has been removed.

First, let’s note I’m pleased Dylan received the Nobel, the first American to receive it for literature since Tony Morrison received the award in 1993. In 50 years or so, he has written more than 450 songs, many of which are firmly entrenched in American culture. “Blood on the Tracks,” which was released in 1975, is one of my desert island albums. I played it on Spotify the day I heard he won the prize. Every song is a gem.

Here is a sampling of my favorite lyrics:

  • From Wallflower: “Just like you I’m wondrin’ what I’m doin’ here. Just like you I’m wondrin’ what’s goin’ on.”
  • From To Ramona: “Everything passes. Everything changes. Just do what you think you should do,”
  • From Motorpsycho Nightmare: “Without freedom of speech. I might be in the swamp.”
    Amen to that.

I have seen Dylan in concert once, in 2007, at ACL Fest in Austin. ACL is a three-day endurance test of one’s ability to eat dust, endure stopped-up Porta-Johnnies and stand in long lines for a beer or some food, while jostling with large crowds in order to hear great musical acts. I went twice, that year and the next, but only for a single day. After the second year, I concluded I was getting too old for such foolishness even for just a day — though I can’t say I won’t return someday if the lineup is particular attractive to a sexagenarian.

Dylan was the final act that night. It was not the best venue to hear someone whose voice has been reduced to an interesting growl — outside at Zilker Park with thousands of beer-soaked fans. Between the background noise of young people wondering aloud who Bob Dylan was — seriously — and the poor acoustics, it was not the greatest concert experience. But I continue to admire Dylan’s work ethic and considerable talents. He just released his latest album — “Fallen Angels.” I will give it a listen when it pops up on Spotify. Dylan has to be the most covered songwriter on the planet, given the volume of his work.

Bob being Bob, he might continue to ignore the hoopla and not show up in Stockholm on Dec. 10 for the awards ceremony. That is his prerogative. It is not like he applied to be Nobel laureate. As a New York Times writer put it, “Mr. Dylan may yet accept the prize, but so far, his refusal to accept the authority of the Swedish Academy has been a wonderful demonstration of what real artistic and philosophical freedom looks like.”

So I have a proposal:

I am willing to fly to Stockholm pick up the award on Bob’s behalf. Then I will be happy to mail it to him, or even spring for UPS, since I figure he would not actually want to meet me. However, not having a large travel budget — actually I have no travel budget — I will need Bob to buy me a ticket to Sweden. I am not greedy. I can fly coach. And all I require for lodging is a hotel somewhere higher in stature than a Super Eight. Best Western is fine, or whatever the Nordic equivalent might be.

If a speech is required, I will prepare a brief one, likely incorporating lyrics from “Idiot Wind” for a bit of panache. I will decline any invitations to sing, out of respect for both Dylan and the audience.

Will Bob accept my offer? He said it best: “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.”

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