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Bob Dylan’s five main inspirations cited in Nobel lecture

Bob Dylan

In his long-awaited Nobel lecture, Bob Dylan reflects on the possible links between his lyrics and literature and mentions artists and books that have inspired his songwriting.

The lecture, which can take any form, including a speech, letter or song, is the only requirement to receive the eight million kronor (819,000 euros, $923,000) that comes with the Nobel prize in literature.

– Buddy Holly –

“If I was to go back to the dawning of it all, I guess I’d have to start with Buddy Holly,” Bob Dylan said in his speech to the Swedish Academy.


“From the moment I first heard him, I felt akin. I felt related, like he was an older brother. I even thought I resembled him,” he added.

“And he sang great – sang in more than a few voices. He was the archetype. Everything I wasn’t and wanted to be.”

– Classic books –

“Don Quixote, Ivanhoe, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, Tale of Two Cities, all the rest – typical grammar school reading that gave you a way of looking at life, an understanding of human nature, and a standard to measure things by.”

“And 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.”

– Moby Dick –

“This book tells how different men react in different ways to the same experience.”

“We see only the surface of things. We can interpret what lies below any way we see fit.”

“History of the whale, phrenology, classical philosophy, pseudo-scientific theories, justification for discrimination – everything thrown in and none of it hardly rational.”

– All Quiet on the Western Front –

“You’re stuck in a nightmare. Sucked up into a mysterious whirlpool of death and pain. You’re defending yourself from elimination. You’re being wiped off the face of the map.”

“I put this book down and closed it up. I never wanted to read another war novel again, and I never did.”

– The Odyssey –

“The Odyssey is a strange, adventurous tale of a grown man trying to get home after fighting in a war.”

“He’s trying to get back home, but he’s tossed and turned by the winds. Restless winds, chilly winds, unfriendly winds. He travels far, and then he gets blown back.”

“You too have had drugs dropped into your wine. You too have shared a bed with the wrong woman.”

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