Sunday 19 November 2017

Nobel Prize party to go ahead - with or without Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan

Harriet Alexander in New York

The Nobel Prize committee has given up trying to reach Bob Dylan, five days after he became the first musician awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Dylan (75) is yet to respond to the accolade, which was announced on Thursday. That evening he gave a concert in Las Vegas in which he spoke little, and did not mention the award.

On Friday he performed in Coachella, as part of the Desert Trip festival - and was commended by The Rolling Stones, who performed after him.

"I want to thank Bob Dylan for an amazing set," said Mick Jagger. "We have never shared the stage with a Nobel Prize winner before. Bob is like our own Walt Whitman."

Keith Richards added: "I can't think of anybody that deserved it better."

But Dylan himself again failed to acknowledge it.

The Swedish Academy, which awards the prizes every October and organises the presentation in December, says it has not heard back from the Minnesota-born singer.

"Right now, we are doing nothing," said Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the academy.

"I have called and sent emails to his closest collaborator and received very friendly replies. For now, that is certainly enough."

Ms Danius said they did not know whether he planned to attend the December 10 ceremony, for winners to be presented with their awards in Stockholm from King Carl Gustaf.

"If he doesn't want to come, he won't come," she added. "It will be a big party in any case and the honour belongs to him.

"I am not at all worried. I think he will show up."

Dylan has a long and erratic history with award ceremonies, beginning with his 1963 Tom Paine award for civil rights, in which he delivered a rambling acceptance speech saying he sympathised with JFK's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. He later issued an apology.

In 2000, he won the Oscar for best original song, with 'Things Have Changed' from the film 'Wonder Boys'. But he chose to not to attend, and instead accepted the award via video link, from Australia.

In 2007, he skipped the Crown Prince of Spain's ceremony to award the Prince of Asturias medal, playing that night in Omaha instead, and in 2010 failed to show up at the White House to collect the National Medal for the Arts.

Barack Obama, who has frequently declared himself to be a great fan of Dylan's, tweeted congratulations, calling him "one of my favourite poets".

But Mr Obama has previously told how Dylan, invited to play at the White House, was initially reluctant to accept the invitation.

When he finally agreed to play at the 2010 ceremony, to mark Black History Month, he performed - and then walked off, without attending any ceremonies.

"That's how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don't want him to be all cheesin' and grinnin' with you. You want him to be a little sceptical about the whole enterprise," recalled Mr Obama, in a 2013 interview.

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