Bob Dylan's apparent reluctance to accept his Nobel Prize for literature almost cost him the rather tasty £727,000 prize money that comes with the accolade.
"You know what it's all about. Takin' the pistol out and puttin' it back in your pocket. Whippin' your way through traffic, talkin' in the dark. You know that Stagger Lee was a bad man and that Frankie was a good girl. You know that Washington is a bourgeois town and you've heard the deep-pitched voice of John the Revelator and you saw the Titanic sink in a boggy creek. And you're pals with the wild Irish rover and the wild colonial boy. You heard the muffled drums and the fifes that played lowly. You've seen the lusty Lord Donald stick a knife in his wife, and a lot of your comrades have been wrapped in white linen."
Later on, he addresses rather more straightforwardly the issue of 'meaning' in his songs, which have been obsessed over for decades by 'Dylantologists' – something that irritated him in early interviews and contributed to his later reluctance to engage with the press.
"If a song moves you, that's all that's important," he says.
"I don't have to know what a song means. I've written all kinds of things into my songs. And I'm not going to worry about it - what it all means."
Here, he again reminds us of another Nobel Prize winner, this time Ernest Hemingway, who grew so tired of people wanting to know what the novella which landed him the prize – The Old Man And The Sea – 'meant', he said somewhat unconvincingly:
"There isn't any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is the old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The sharks are sharks, no better, no worse."
The lesson here? Great writers don't want to have to tell you what their works means, figuring that out for yourself is your part of the contract.
But Dylan's lecture is worth a listen in full, as are pretty much all of his albums. If the Nobel Prize helps more people realise that, then it can't be a bad thing.