The legendary Bob Dylan has now become the first rock star ever to be voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The wildly prestigious honour sees Dylan in fairly good company, with other inductees including Philip Roth, Jasper Johns, Meryl Streep, Woody Allen and Marty Scorsese.
To give an idea of how huge this event is, Billboard sum it up perfectly – had be been born in the UK, he would now be known as Sir Bob Dylan, so this isn’t a light accolade by any means. According to Virginia Dajani, it was a challenge to decide whether Dylan was added on account of his lyrical prowess, or for his abilities as a composer, so the panel decided to settle on making him an honorary member.
“The board of directors considered the diversity of his work and acknowledged his iconic place in the American culture,” Dajani said recently. “Bob Dylan is a multi-talented artist whose work so thoroughly crosses several disciplines that it defies categorization.”
Dylan has apparently accepted the vote, which is a key part of being added into the Academy, though that is about as much as we can tell you about his reaction. The award ceremony will apparently be taking place in the spring, which is when Dylan does most of his touring, so it’s unlikely he will be there to accept the award in person.
For more than 100 years, the American Academy of Arts and Letters has been paying tribute to those who stand out in their field, though ironically, it was initially set up to keep people like Dylan out, in fact, jazz artists were considered too contemporary to be added. As Dajani explained, the panel is reluctant to vote for rock stars, as there is already a bevy of accolades and academies to acknowledge their achievements: think Rolling Stone Hall Of Fame.
That’s how good Bob Dylan is.