Bob Dylan

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Most Likely He’ll Go His Way (To Sweden, for a Nobel Prize)

As of press time, there was one thing that nearly everybody in America knew and another that only one person did.

What everybody knew was that the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to an American-born Jewish singer-songwriter, memoirist, poet and occasional filmmaker who has served as the voice of his era. What only one person knew was whether Bob Dylan would actually show up in Stockholm on December 10 to accept that honor

Dylan’s only response has been to tell a reporter from the Daily Telegraph that he’ll be there “if it’s at all possible.” Whether that’s a sign of reluctance or “rudeness,” as one member of the Nobel academy put it, this mystery is consistent with the gnomic image of the Hibbing, Minnesota-born Mr. Dylan, née Zimmerman, who has both embraced and shunned the spotlight during a career that has spanned 37 albums, a protest-singer phase, an electric phase, a country phase, a born-again gospel phase, a born-again Lubavitch phase, an Internet radio host phrase, a Frank Sinatra phase, and garnered such honors as the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 12 Grammy Awards, one Emmy Award, one Golden Globe Award, and now, the Nobel.

Like Dylan’s work, his silence on the Nobel Prize is open to interpretation. Is it because the author of “Masters of War” feels conflicted about an award that was founded by Alfred Nobel, the man who invented dynamite and worked for the armaments industry? Or is it because Dylan, 75, who has been touring consistently for the past three decades, has better things to do with his time? Or because, as he once put it, he sees himself merely as a “song and dance man”?

We’d say the answer to the question is “blowin’ in the wind,” but since that Dylan lyric has become a cliché, we’ll go with a lesser-known one: “God knows.”

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