Six months after Bob Dylan received the Nobel Prize in Literature at a ceremony he did not attend, the songwriter has fulfilled the award’s criteria by delivering a lecture on the topic to the Swedish Academy.
Recorded June 4th in Los Angeles, Dylan’s lecture finds the rock legend discussing both his musical influences like Leadbelly and Buddy Holly alongside literary works that informed his songwriting, including Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front and Homer’s The Odyssey.
“The themes from those books worked their way into many of my songs, either knowingly or unintentionally. I wanted to write songs unlike anything anybody ever heard, and these themes were fundamental,” Dylan says during the 30-minute lecture.
Dylan then summarizes those classic stories and how folk music often cited their themes and motifs.
“The Odyssey is a great book whose themes have worked its way into the ballads of a lot of songwriters: ‘Homeward Bound,’ ‘Green, Green Grass of Home,’ ‘Home on the Range,’ and my songs as well,” Dylan said.
“The Odyssey is a strange, adventurous tale of a grown man trying to get home after fighting in a war. He’s on that long journey home, and it’s filled with traps and pitfalls. He’s cursed to wander … He’s a travelin’ man, but he’s making a lot of stops,” a nod to the Ricky Nelson single.