The Times They Are A-Changin'
Bob Dylan receives Presidential Medal of Freedom (in sunglasses) alongsideMadeline Albright and Toni Morrison
Bob Dylan wore sunglasses while being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama Tuesday evening.
The singer-songwriter known for his early radical political views looked stoic and unaffected throughout the ceremony, which bestowed the highest civilian honor given in the United States for "meritorious contributions to the national interest" of the country or the world. When his name was called, Obama had to catch Bob's attention before bringing him to the stage.
"Today, everybody from Bruce Springsteen to U2 owes Bob a debt of gratitude. There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music." - President Obama
Many of Dylan's fans began speculating what must be going through the 71-year-old's mind while posing, unsmiling, for the cameras with Obama. Having eschewed the pressures of being the "voice of his generation" long ago, the personal-political protest singer looks completely uninterested in receiving the purple ribbon from the President, who counts Dylan as one of his favorite singers.
"Today, everybody from Bruce Springsteen to U2 owes Bob a debt of gratitude," said Obama during the ceremony. "There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music. All these years later, he's still chasing that sound, still searching for a little bit of truth. And I have to say that I am a really big fan."
Perhaps it is less about politics, however, and more about the ceremony of it all. Dylan is, after all, a highly decorated musician already, having won 11 Grammys, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Pulitzer, two Honorary Doctorates of Music (one from Princeton, no less), two Hall of Fame inductions, and the National Medal of Arts. So what's another trophy to add to his collection?
Then again, Dylan's fellow honorees are also highly decorated and and still seemed to enjoy themselves during the ceremony. Author Toni Morrison, former astronaut John Glenn, former secretary of state Madeline Albright, and college basketball's "winningest coach" Pat Summitt all had smiles on as they received their Medals of Freedom.
But even as the Marine Band played a medley of Dylan's songs at the ceremony, the reluctant hero of the protest era stayed placid, with all of his secrets hidden behind those shades. Still making a statement after all these years.