Bob Dylan is about to kick off his AmericanaramA Tour, but he’s about to receive France’s highest honor. It was announced today (June 3) that the Legion d’Honneur awards committee confirmed the 72-year-old singer will receive France’s highest award.
This was a bit controversial, apparently. As France’s The Local (an English language publication that covers news about France) notes, France’s Le Canard Enchainé reported that “Jean-Louis Georgelin, a French army general and Great Chancellor of the Légion d’honneur, was none too pleased to receive the name of Dylan,” citing the songwriter’s anti-war songs like “Blowin’ In The Wind,” and “his pot-smoking past” (possibly using songs like “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” as evidence).
But in a letter to the daily Le Monde published on Sunday (read a translated version here), Georgelin called the singer-songwriter an “exceptional artist” known in the United States and internationally as a “tremendous singer and great poet.”
Previous American recipients of the Legion d’Honneur award include Wynton Marsalis, Barbra Streisand and Elie Wiesel, as well as hundreds of World War II veterans.
Dylan has yet to issue a statement about the honor, whose award shelf (if he has one) would also include numerous GRAMMYs, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, the Polar Music Prize, a Kennedy Center Honors medal, and membership in both the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. Last year, he added the Presidential Medal Of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.
But it seems he takes all of these honors with a grain of salt. In 2010 interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama reported that when Dylan performed at the White House, He wouldn’t come to the rehearsal; usually, all these guys are practicing before the set in the evening. He didn’t want to take a picture with me; usually all the talent is dying to take a picture with me and Michelle before the show, but he didn’t show up to that. He came in and played ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’.’ Finishes the song, steps off the stage — I’m sitting right in the front row — comes up, shakes my hand, sort of tips his head, gives me just a little grin, and then leaves. And that was it — then he left. That was our only interaction with him. And I thought: That’s how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don’t want him to be all cheesin’ and grinnin’ with you. You want him to be a little skeptical about the whole enterprise.”
As for Dylan’s AmericanaramA Tour (his spelling), it kicks off June 26 in West Palm Beach, Florida at the Cruzan Ampitheatre. Wilco and My Morning Jacket will be joining Dylan on most of the dates, with Richard Thompson, Ryan Bingham and Beck joining on select shows.