It’s the Super Bowl, Academy Awards, and Downton Abbey all rolled into one.
December 10, the day Alfred Nobel’s died, is always the culmination of the week’s activities. It’s the Super Bowl, Academy Awards, and Downton Abbey all rolled into one. The most widely watched program in Sweden, it is a celebration of genius across academic and artistic disciplines. Only family births, weddings, graduations, and meals have topped it in my life.
For me, it began in the snow as I bought a cardamon danish from a woman named Johanna (I asked her if she was named for Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna” and she told me, “probably not”) and ended in the snow as I watched a woman named Johanna introduce the Nobel Laureates to deliver their addresses to the Banquet crowd of 1300. (It was if, uncannily, Dylan was pulling some strings from wherever he is.)
That’s right: Dylan was not physically there. But his spirit–celebrated remarkably by Professor Horace Engdahl in his reading of the citation from the Swedish Academy and by Patti Smith in her rendition of “Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”–was. She was so visibly moved that she had to stop and restart a stanza, stating, “Sorry. I’m so nervous. Can we take it one more time.” The audience, including the King and Queen, erupted into unprecedented applause when she finished.
And, of course, there were so many happy connections throughout the day. I visited with Sir Christopher Ricks– author of Dylan’s Visions of Sin and the other academic authority (along with yours truly) in the SVT documentary on Dylan; my new SVT family; and a few good souls who recognized me from my minutes on camera. I saw the streets of Stockholm in winter’s light and felt so blessed for so much. I was yet again thankful for Bob Dylan, his art, and the way he has connected so many people to one another.
The day was too much a truly magical culmination of too many feelings (I thought of my father saying “my cup runneth over”) to do it justice on deadline. So I’m going to post a few pictures–please view them as something akin to the previews at your neighborhood movie house–and give you the much fuller report (the director’s cut, if you will) when I’m home in Georgetown late tomorrow night. Today, I still have packing to do, a snowy changing of the guards (at the Royal Castle, as distinguished from Dylan’s song of that title from Street Legal) to check out, and a nap to take before my early flight.
Thanks for traveling with me. I promise to check back in soon.