Add the Nobel Prize ceremony to the list of things Bob Dylan is too big for.
The musician—whose win of the Nobel Prize in Literature stunned the world, and offended some—has been weirdly silent about his victory since it was announced in October. This week though, the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobels, received a personal letter from Dylan that said he is “very honored” by the decision but won’t be able to attend the ceremony in his honor on Dec. 10 in Stockholm. The artist has “pre-existing commitments.”
In October, Dylan told a journalist that he would “absolutely” attend the Nobel prize ceremony, “if it at all possible.” (He also said he does not “have any opinion” and feels “not really qualified” to comment on interpretations of his songs or lyrics.)
“That laureates decide not to come is unusual, to be sure, but not exceptional,” the Swedish Academy reluctantly conceded in a statement, pointing to past winners—Harold Pinter, Elfriede Jelinek, Doris Lessing—who also opted not to receive their prizes in person. Neither the academy nor Dylan provided details on his pre-existing commitments; the artist is not currently scheduled to tour on that date.
It’s not Dylan’s first “no thanks.” Other things the musician has rejected include:
- performing on The Ed Sullivan Show
- his label, particularly in the 1960s, as a protest musician
- his religion—sort of
- two marriages
- his real name, Robert Allan Zimmerman
Dylan will still give a Nobel lecture sometime before June 2017, which the award’s rules require him to do.