Bob Dylan Among Honorees of 2012 Presidential Medal Of Freedom

PRESIDENT BARACK H. OBAMA awarded Presidential Medals of Freedom today at the White House to Jan Karski, Dolores Huerta, John Glenn, John Paul Stevens, Madeleine Albright, Shimon Peres, John Doar, William Foege, Juliette Gordon Low, Pat Summitt, Gordon Hirabayashi, and wait for it, can you believe it, the one and only Bob Dylan. The medal is the highest honor a president can bestow upon a civilian.

When delivering his brief remarks about each honoree, President Obama thanked musician Bob Dylan for opening up his world. "I remember in college listening to Bob Dylan and my world opening up because he captured something that—about this country that was so vital," Obama said. The president also noted that he's "a really big fan."

Bob Dylan started out singing other people’s songs. But, as he says, “There came a point where I had to write what I wanted to say, because what I wanted to say, nobody else was writing.” So born in Hibbing, Minnesota—a town, he says, where “you couldn’t be a rebel—it was too cold”—(laughter)—Bob moved to New York at age 19. By the time he was 23, Bob’s voice, with its weight, its unique, gravelly power was redefining not just what music sounded like, but the message it carried and how it made people feel. 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. 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.

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