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Bob Dylan Doesn't Accept Being The 'Voice Of His Generation'

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We don't know who will win the presidency this year. We do know this big news. Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in literature. This week's announcement brought to mind Dylan's talk on this program back in 2004.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A part of that interview is fun to hear now because Dylan says that honors and accolades just get in his way. Let's listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE GROOM'S STILL WAITING AT THE ALTAR")

BOB DYLAN: (Singing) I see the turning of the page, curtain rising on a new age, see the groom still waiting at the altar.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

INSKEEP: Why does it bother you when people sometimes refer to you as a voice of your generation?

DYLAN: I think that was just a term that can create problems for somebody, especially if someone just wants to keep it simple and write songs and play them. Having these colossal accolades and titles - they get in the way.

INSKEEP: You're saying it made it harder for you to just do your job.

DYLAN: Yeah, absolutely.

INSKEEP: I guess it's your fault 'cause you went and wrote all those lyrics that a lot of people think speak to them.

DYLAN: (Laughter) Yeah. And that's OK. When it becomes a problem - like, when we get known outside of our field, then we're known by people who don't really know - who've never had any experience with what we do. Or we're just names.

You know, sometimes a person's reputation can be far more colossal than the influence of the person. I don't pay any attention to it anymore.

So I was trying to reconstruct the feeling of what it does feel like to have anything like that thrown at you, where you're expected to be something that you just flat-out know you're not.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STANDING IN THE DOORWAY")

DYLAN: (Singing) Maybe they'll get me. And maybe they won't. But not tonight - and it won't be here. There are things I could say. But I don't.

INSKEEP: Bob Dylan spoke in 2004 of being something that he's not.

MONTAGNE: In 2016, here's something that he is - a Nobel laureate. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.