Good evening, everyone. I extend my warmestgreetings to the members of the Swedish Academy and to all of the otherdistinguished guests in attendance tonight.
I'm sorry I can't be with you in person,but please know that I am most definitely with you in spirit and honored to bereceiving such a prestigious prize. Being awarded the Nobel Prize forLiterature is something I never could have imagined or seen coming. From anearly age, I've been familiar with and reading and absorbing the works of thosewho were deemed worthy of such a distinction: Kipling, Shaw, Thomas Mann, PearlBuck, Albert Camus, Hemingway. These giants of literature whose works are taughtin the schoolroom, housed in libraries around the world and spoken of inreverent tones have always made a deep impression. That I now join the names onsuch a list is truly beyond words.
I don't know if these men and women everthought of the Nobel honor for themselves, but I suppose that anyone writing abook, or a poem, or a play anywhere in the world might harbor that secret dreamdeep down inside. It's probably buried so deep that they don't even know it'sthere.
If someone had ever told me that I had theslightest chance of winning the Nobel Prize, I would have to think that I'dhave about the same odds as standing on the moon. In fact, during the year Iwas born and for a few years after, there wasn't anyone in the world who wasconsidered good enough to win this Nobel Prize. So, I recognize that I am invery rare company, to say the least.
I was out on the road when I received thissurprising news, and it took me more than a few minutes to properly process it.I began to think about William Shakespeare, the great literary figure. I wouldreckon he thought of himself as a dramatist. The thought that he was writingliterature couldn't have entered his head. His words were written for thestage. Meant to be spoken not read. When he was writing Hamlet, I'm sure he wasthinking about a lot of different things: "Who're the right actors forthese roles?" "How should this be staged?" "Do I reallywant to set this in Denmark?" His creative vision and ambitions were nodoubt at the forefront of his mind, but there were also more mundane matters toconsider and deal with. "Is the financing in place?" "Are thereenough good seats for my patrons?" "Where am I going to get a humanskull?" I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare's mind wasthe question "Is this literature?"
When I started writing songs as a teenager,and even as I started to achieve some renown for my abilities, my aspirationsfor these songs only went so far. I thought they could be heard in coffeehouses or bars, maybe later in places like Carnegie Hall, the London Palladium.If I was really dreaming big, maybe I could imagine getting to make a recordand then hearing my songs on the radio. That was really the big prize in mymind. Making records and hearing your songs on the radio meant that you werereaching a big audience and that you might get to keep doing what you had setout to do.
Well, I've been doing what I set out to dofor a long time, now. I've made dozens of records and played thousands ofconcerts all around the world. But it's my songs that are at the vital centerof almost everything I do. They seemed to have found a place in the lives ofmany people throughout many different cultures and I'm grateful for that.
But there's one thing I must say. As aperformer I've played for 50,000 people and I've played for 50 people and I cantell you that it is harder to play for 50 people. 50,000 people have a singularpersona, not so with 50. Each person has an inpidual, separate identity, aworld unto themselves. They can perceive things more clearly. Your honesty andhow it relates to the depth of your talent is tried. The fact that the Nobelcommittee is so small is not lost on me.
But, like Shakespeare, I too am oftenoccupied with the pursuit of my creative endeavors and dealing with all aspectsof life's mundane matters. "Who are the best musicians for thesesongs?" "Am I recording in the right studio?" "Is this songin the right key?" Some things never change, even in 400 years.
Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself,"Are my songs literature?"
So, I do thank the Swedish Academy, bothfor taking the time to consider that very question, and, ultimately, forproviding such a wonderful answer.
My best wishes to you all,