It's been described as unprecedented, extraordinary, rare and revealing – the 35-minute speech delivered by the normally reticent music legend Bob Dylan, as he was honored Friday as the MusiCares Person of the Year as part of this year's Grammys festivities.
Dylan, the 73-year-old Minnesota native and folk music icon, talked about his songwriting roots and the musicians who inspired him in front of an audience of 3,000 people in Los Angeles, the New York Times reports.
“These songs of mine, they’re like mystery plays, the kind Shakespeare saw when he was growing up," said Dylan. "I think you could trace what I do back that far. They were on the fringes then, and I think they’re on the fringes now.”
Dylan was introduced by former President Jimmy Carter, who said he and his wife Rosalynn are fans of Dylan, for his music and his message.
"There's no doubt that his words of peace and human rights are much more incisive and much more powerful and much more permanent than any President of the United States," Carter said, according to USA Today.
Some of music's most famous names performed Dylan songs during the evening, including Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Norah Jones, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson and Tom Jones.
It was Dylan himself who curated the musical performances, choosing many of the artists and requesting they sing specific songs, USA Today noted. Dylan himself did not perform.
Dylan also spoke quite a bit about some of his critics, who didn't like his music or his voice, including some well-known musicians like '50s songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, country singers Merle Haggard and Tom T. Hall.
"I just thought I was doing something natural, but right from the start, my songs were divisive for some reason. They divided people. I never knew why. Some got angered, others loved them. Didn't know why my songs had detractors and supporters. A strange environment to have to throw your songs into, but I did it anyway.
"Last thing I thought of was who cared about what song I was writing. I was just writing them. I didn't think I was doing anything different. I thought I was just extending the line. Maybe a little bit unruly, but I was just elaborating on situations. Maybe hard to pin down, but so what? A lot of people are hard to pin down. You've just got to bear it."
USA Today has a summary of some of Dylan's sharpest barbs.
MusiCares, a charity affiliated with the Grammys, supports musicians in financial need or in health crises. Since MusiCares began in 1989, it has distributed nearly $40 million in aid, according to the group.
You can find a transcript of Dylan's entire speech at the Los Angeles Times.
The Grammy Awards show is Sunday Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. CST. It will be broadcast on CBS.